Miami United FC midfielder Tomas Granitto is a special talent, a player that could make all the difference in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Orlando City SC.
He has loads of experience even though he is just 24 years old. After finishing studies and playing at Florida Gulf Coast University, he returned to his homeland of El Salvador to play for Firpo in 2013. He then spent time with the FC Dallas reserve team before joining NASL side FC Edmonton in 2014. He would sign with Swope Park Rangers in 2016 and played a full season for Portland Timbers 2 and Portland Timbers before coming back home to South Florida to join Miami United for the 2018 NPSL season.
However, Granitto’s best memories come from playing at the national team level.
“The best memory I have from my professional career was playing in the U-20 World Cup for El Salvador in 2013. We had Colombia, Turkey, and Australia in our group. We made history by giving the country its first ever win in any World Cup versus Australia. I was Man of the Match so it was something very special. It was in Turkey. I was born in El Salvador but everyone in my family is from Argentina and I grew up here in Miami.”
There’s no question that Granitto’s big-game experience will be a great asset to the home team. And Miami United will need him to lead the team in such a historic matchup. Wednesday night is going to be one for the history books as Miami United become the first NPSL team to ever face an MLS side in the Open Cup.
“It is historic for the club and the city,” Granitto commented. “We hope many fans come support us on Wednesday. Playing an MLS team is going to be a great challenge for the team. I feel confident. I know what it is to play against an MLS team. I played in the CONCACAF Champions League with Sporting Kansas City and last year I was with the Portland Timbers organization. The guys are excited and confident. Most of them have never played against an MLS team so it is going to be a great experience for them.”
The historic nature of the match doesn’t take away from what will be a challenging situation.
“I expect it to be a difficult game,” Granitto continued. “I told the team that there will be times where things will not go our way because players will be anxious and nervous. That’s normal. Once they accept that we need to stay calm/focused in those moments so we can then play our game. Once we play our game we are dangerous. The team grew in confidence after this.”
The idea of an NPSL team hosting an MLS team is a special occasion.
“We know who they are,” Granitto added. “We know they are an MLS team and have great players. But that does not change on how we will prepare for the game. It does not change how we will play that night. We will try and play our game just like all the other games. We have the players to do so.”
Miami has already benefited from the extra exposure that a successful Open Cup run brings, but they are clearly not done yet.
“Miami United is a much more popular club now,” Granitto said. “Personally it was a great challenge. I knew we were not favorites to go this far so I had to bring a high level to help the team win the past couple of difficult games. I was very happy with my last goal versus Jacksonville.”
Defeating rivals like Miami FC 2 and Jacksonville Armada FC in the earlier rounds of the Open Cup proved to be big moments, but facing that level of competition week in and week out is extremely helpful.
“The NPSL grew in our conference in level and quality with teams like Miami United, Miami FC 2, and Jacksonville,” Granitto concluded. “I see many positives and an example is playing in my hometown against an MLS team in an Open Cup game. It is a great motivation for me. I love playing in the city I grew up in. The addition of those teams the level and quality of the conference grew tremendously. And a rivalry in Miami makes the season even more exciting.”
Perhaps Wednesday will be the birth of a new rivalry, one between Miami United FC and Orlando City SC. This could be the start of something big; fans and supporters from around the country will be tuning in to see what comes of #MIAvORL. One things is for certain: Tomas Granitto will be a player to watch for in this game.
Photo Credit: Austin Tolchin and Andrea Yanez