Miami Fusion traveled to Naples for a fiery rematch that would test the league-leading Fusion as they set out to clinch the conference championship. As expected, tensions were high in this sequel to Wednesday night’s matchup between the two Florida sides.
Naples United jumped at the start of the game going right at the Fusion players, testing their resolve. Naples United found the back of the net about halfway through the first half, giving them the early lead. The Fusion found themselves in an unfamiliar position, having only trailed a few times this season. The Fusion did not back down.
Just before the half, Nicolas Micoli broke through the defense, leading to a one-on-one with the keeper inside the box resulting in a foul. Trailing by one goal, Victor Cardoso stepped up to the line for a decisive moment in the game, much like last Wednesday. On the referee’s whistle Cardoso struck the ball, sending it past the keeper into the lower left corner. This tied up the game just minutes before the conclusion of the first half.
Minutes into the second half a ball was driven over the Naples defense and into the path of Micoli. Faced up with another one-on-one with the Naples keeper, Micoli hit the ball on a half volley and found the top left corner of the net.
The goal motivated Naples United as they sought out to create a few more chances for themselves on the other end of the field. Midway through the half Naples finally got their break when the Miami Fusion keeper committed a foul, resulting in a penalty kick and red card. The Fusion would have to play the remainder of the game down a man against a strong and determined opponent. The penalty kick was scored by Naples United, leveling the match at two apiece.
For the remainder of the match the Fusion dropped their line of confrontation and waited for the perfect time to counter. That time came around the 89th minute. David Ochoa broke free from midfield and bolted down the left sideline, crossing a ball in the middle of the Naples box. Micoli raced down field reaching the area just in time to meet the ball in the air, heading it into the bottom right corner for the Fusion victory.
With this win, the Miami Fusion claim the Sunshine Conference title with 30 points and one more game to play. The Fusion will look to keep their number one ranking as they head into the playoffs. Nevertheless they will have to face their crosstown rivals one more time to do that. The Fusion will play Miami United this coming Saturday at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Miami, Florida with a 7:00 pm kick off.