Miami Fusion played Naples United for their last home match of the season on Wednesday night. The first half proved that both teams were ready for this game with several chances at both ends of the field. After a few hard tackles from both teams, things started to get more physical all around. Coming to the close of the first half, Fusion goalkeeper Peterson Occenat went down after a hard collision in the box. The medical staff tended to him on the field and he was able to continue after a few minutes. The first half came to an end with both teams having gone scoreless with five extra minutes of stoppage time.
During halftime Fusion head coach Ferdinando De Matthaeis had some harsh and motivational words that his Fusion players took to heart. The second half brought forth a changed mentality for the Fusion players as they pushed on, determined to score.
Then about halfway through the second half David Ochoa was taken down in the box from a dangerous tackle by one of the Naples center backs resulting in a Fusion penalty kick. Victor Cardoso stepped up to take the penalty kick. Cardoso kept a cool head and buried the ball into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. Cardoso’s goal only intensified the physicality of the match. The minutes added up after a few hard fouls and cautions but this long, hard-fought game was brought to an end at the final whistle. The intensity of the game is sure to spark players as they travel to Naples Saturday for their rematch.
The Man of the Match was the Fusion’s David Ochoa. His play inside the attacking half eventually led to him winning a penalty kick. He constantly put pressure on the Naples back line that could have led to one or two more goals if the ball bounced another way.
The Fusion are determined to hold on to their number one ranking by closing out the regular season with two more victories on the road in preparation for the playoffs.
“ It was a very physical game, but we knew this going into it,” De Matthaeis added. “I just reminded the boys that we need to keep our heads and continue to play the way we have been playing all season long. After a difficult first half I told them a few things, that I believe got them into a good place mentality. The start of the second half proved that as they went out there and continued to push the effort even more and eventually things went our way. We have a target on our back being the number 1 team in the nation, but it’s the way we want it.”