By Michael Lewis/NPSL.com
Dylan Mares scored twice within a two-minute span in the first half as The Miami FC defended its National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) title by recording a 3-1 victory over New York Cosmos B at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Saturday night.
Mares, named Man of the Match by media and NPSL staff, struck twice within a two-minute span in the first half. Second-half sub Shawn Chin added an insurance goal five minutes into second-half stoppage time in front of a crowd of 5,285.
The Miami FC (15-1-0), which defeated FC Motown on the road to capture the 2018 championship, accomplished the same thing away from home this year. The club won its 14th consecutive match as the visitors snapped Cosmos B’s (16-1-1) 17-game unbeaten streak.
“It was a great game,” The Miami FC head coach Paul Dalglish said. “It was two really good teams going at it. We managed to get the victory today. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to celebrate. It was a fantastic game.”
In 2017, the Cosmos upset favored Miami in the North American Soccer League (NASL) semifinals and denied the Florida side a chance to play for the league title.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Mares said. “Regardless where we’re at, what we’re doing, trying to win something two years in a row is never easy. I’ve had a history with New York personally. I’m glad to get one back. It was a good feeling. Everyone worked hard and we did what we had to do.”
After Cosmos B captain Danny Szetela lost the ball at midfield, Mares picked up the ball and found Miguel Gonzalez on the right flank. Gonzalez crossed to Mares in the middle of the penalty area as the Miami captain fired a shot past goalkeeper Paul Blanchette for a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
Less than two minutes later, The Miami FC took advantage of another turnover by Szetela as Mares scored his second of the match.
“We’ve got great players that punish mistakes,” Dalglish said. “Dylan, Ariel [Martinez], Miguel, they were so fantastic tonight and they looked so dangerous in transition.”
Cosmos B left back Ansi Agolli sliced the lead in half in the 31st minute. On a free kick from just outside the right side of the area, Agolli sent what appeared to be a pass toward the net that was just over the head of forward Isaac Acuna that sailed past keeper Mark Pais.
Agolli, who didn’t score a goal during the regular season, finished with three goals in four playoff matches.
Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes said the defeat was “obviously disappointing for the group.”
“You have disappointment for the fans, the club. You have a final at home,” he added. “There were a lot of good moments for us. We did a lot of good things against a very good team. We made some mistakes. They executed on their chances and we didn’t. That was the difference in the game. Credit to them because they were a very good team. They were dangerous and executed when they got the opportunity.”
Photo Credit: Manish Gosalia/NPSL.com