By The Miami FC
The Miami FC used four second-half goals to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit in the NPSL South Region final and beat Tulsa Athletic 4-1. The victory secures Miami a berth in the NPSL National Semifinals.
It took just 40 seconds for Miami to threaten to open the scoring, as Tomás Granitto played a chipped ball over the top of the defense to Ariel Martínez, whose right-footed shot was parried away for a corner.
In the ninth minute, the Orange and Blue came close again. A Granitto corner kick was met by Callum Chapman-Page and headed back towards the middle of the box, where Miguel González connected with the ball with an acrobatic scissor kick that was cleared off the line by some last-ditch defending.
Tulsa needed its standout goalkeeper Bryson Reed to come through several times in the first half, including in the 20th minute, when Martínez got loose from the defense and uncorked a powerful shot that had eyes for goal. Reed fully extended himself and pushed the ball just wide of the post.
The match’s opening goal came in the 25th minute, when Tulsa’s Joe Garcia one-timed an incoming long pass and put Aboubakr Diallo through on goal for the striker to finish past Miami FC goalkeeper Mark Pais and put his team ahead 1-0.
Miami ended up with nine shots taken in the first half, but impressive goalkeeping from Tulsa and a streak of unfortunate luck saw Miami scoreless and down 1-0 at the break.
Just as it has for the past two years in the NPSL, Miami picked itself up and dominated the second half.
Miami found an equalizer in the 61st minute, when a Granitto rocket shot from long distance dipped and swerved late, fooling the goalkeeper into thinking the shot would go high and wide. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and was headed into the goal by Miguel González, who smartly stayed alert and followed up the initial shot.
Eight minutes later, the Orange and Blue went ahead as substitute Darío Suárez made a crucial impact. Man of the Match Hector Morales picked out a stellar through ball that Suárez got on the end of while fighting off the last defender and slotted home to put Miami up 2-1.
Miami took advantage of the shifting tide late in the match, using an over-the-top pass from Suárez to get Martínez away from the Tulsa back line and with a clear look at goal. Reed came off his line and wiped out Martínez, earning himself a yellow card and Miami a penalty kick. For the third straight match, Martínez stepped up to the spot, put pace on his shot and got the ball past a diving Reed to his right side.
The Orange and Blue found its fourth goal to put the match away in the 89th minute. Yet another pinpoint long through ball by Morales put Martínez past the defense and with an open glance at Reed one-on-one. Martínez calmly finished and put an exclamation point on a brilliant second-half performance by Miami.
The South Region final triumph meant Miami FC captured its seventh overall trophy in four years of existence. The Orange and Blue will now go for its eighth trophy and a second consecutive NPSL National Championship, beginning with an NPSL National Semifinals match against an opponent yet to be determined on Saturday, July 27th at FIU Soccer Stadium.
Photo Credit: Orovio Photography