By Kartik Krishnaiyer/NPSL.com
Second-half substitute and NPSL alum Claudio Repetto scored two late goals as Miami FC edged past Jacksonville Armada, 3-1, in a second round U.S. Open Cup clash at FIU Soccer Stadium. The match, which was a close-run affair, featured three red cards and some scintillating end-to-end action.
The series between these two Florida-based clubs has significant history and Jacksonville boasted a nice traveling contingent of fans to the match. The two sides have plenty of history against one another. They were one-time NASL rivals, who faced each other twice in knockout NPSL Sunshine Conference matchups in 2018 and 2019. Miami FC won both of those contests.
Jacksonville qualified for this round with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Miami United in Round 1 at Hodges Stadium. That match saw Mikah Thomas, who scored Jacksonville’s lone goal, sent off toward the end of regular time. Miami United peppered the Armada goal in the extra time period, but couldn’t find a winner. As a result of the red card, Thomas was forced to sit out tonight’s match.
Miami FC started out on the front foot, and Florian Valot had a great chance to put the home side on top in the 9th minute but his header went over the crossbar. Minutes later Valot turned provider for Kyle Murphy who also missed a header over the bar. Another great opportunity came for the home side in the 27th minute when Ryan Telfer put a header on frame but it was cleared.
Jacksonville broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute with a goal from Charles Eloundou, who beautifully placed his shot from the inside left portion of the attacking area into the corner of the far post. Eloundou, a veteran of the aforementioned battles between these two clubs in the past, has been a reliable performer through the years for the Armada when called upon.
The lead did not last long as Miami equalized behind Telfer who headed in an excellent cross from the right flank by Curtis Thorn.
In the 43rd minute, Luto Tom was booked for a second foul and Jacksonville was reduced to ten men. Immediately Miami FC went on the attack, looking for a second goal, but Michael Salazar’s whipping shot from outside the area was saved by Nicklas Rulle.
The second half started with another Miami effort on goal but Rulle once again was strong in saving Joaquín Rivas’ speculative strike from outside the box.
But the match took another turn when in the 50th minute, the Armada’s Rijad Kobiljar was released on a counter-attack. He was cynically taken down by Miami’s Curtis Thorn, who was shown a second yellow and thus sent off. The match now was reduced to 10v10 for the duration.
Rivas had another opportunity to give Miami the lead in the 61st minute, but his effort missed just wide to the left of the far post. Minutes later, though Eloundou had an opportunity to give the Armada a lead, as he found space behind the Miami FC backline after a wonderful through-ball from Giovanny Abreu, but his chance went wanting as he pushed the effort just left of the far post.
The match perhaps decisively turned on an injury in the 64th minute, as Miami FC’s number 9, Kyle Murphy hobbled off injured to be replaced by Repetto. The substitution paid dividends in the 80th minute as Repetto finished a close-range shot after a cross from Aedan Stanley. In the 84th minute, Repetto converted from the spot after a hard foul in the area by Ayrton Redmore on Ben Mines. Redmore was shown a second yellow and sent off as a result.
Despite being down to nine men and down two goals, the Armada had two excellent chances in the second-half stoppage time, the first a long-range effort from Jemal Johnson was cleared and the second a header from Gavin Penzone was saved by Miami keeper Jake McGuire.
Photo Credit: Kartik Krishnaiyer/NPSL.com