Preview: Miami FC 2 and Duluth FC Battle for Berth in National Championship Game

Duluth FC will travel down to South Beach in order to face-off with Miami FC 2, and while the two teams come in on incredible runs of good form, their styles of play are staggeringly different.

The match-up involves a high-powered, aggressive attack of Miami FC 2, paired against the steady, organized defense of Duluth FC.

Miami FC 2 and their offense provide a significant threat, and they are currently on a massive eight-match winning streak and boast an 8-1-3 regular season record in addition to their three playoff wins.

Miami FC 2 are led by a pair of prolific goal-scorers, Dario Suárez and Jaime Chávez, who both tallied 10 goals on the season. In addition to their dynamic attacking duo, midfielder Don Smart has helped Suarez and Chavez reach twenty combined goals by leading Miami FC 2 with seven assists. Not to be outdone, Miami FC 2 has a jack-of-all trades in Dylan Mares. Mares has netted five goals and registered three assists for Miami FC 2, and fills in wherever he’s needed.

“I’ve been asked to play a lot of different positions this year so I really just try to fulfill my role,” Mares said. “I found that when we keep things simple, it’s better for us, and that’s what I’ll try to do.”

As far as their strategy going forward, it’s full-steam ahead for Mares and Miami FC 2 Head Coach Paul Dalglish.

“We have to go out there and attack from the outset, put pressure on them,” Mares added. “If we come out on the front foot and get them uncomfortable I think that will be really good for us.”

“Just winning,” Dalglish said of his strategy for Saturday. “We’ve got a way of playing that we’re very confident in, it won’t change…we believe in it…and the players have embraced that.”

Duluth FC, however, welcome the challenge that Miami FC 2 presents, and the squad has recorded nine wins over their last 10 matches, with an overall regular season record of 8-2-4. Duluth FC Head Coach Joel Person believes the team’s strong performances in knock-out games, both in their opening round U.S. Open Cup win and the first three rounds of the playoffs, will help them rise to the task.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity for our club,” Person said. “Most clubs, players, and coaches dream about making it this far and we are honored to qualify for the national semifinal. The experience we had in the U.S. Open Cup at the beginning of the season as well as our last few big playoff games will give us a lot of confidence that we can compete at a very high level.”

Duluth FC has been incredible from set pieces, a point emphasized by the fact that their leading goal-scorer, Ryan Tyrer, is a defender. With the center back leading the club in goals with six, forward/winger Joe Watt leads the squad with eight assists. Watt is ready to do anything he can to help his team pull off the upset.

“We have had a great season, (and we) will obviously be underdogs, yet we expect to be competitive and if we are on our game(we) can cause problems to any team we play,” Watt commented. “Personally, I just have to be positive on the ball, take risks to make things happen, and get the ball to the players who can score goals.”

This national semifinal will feature two teams from vastly different areas of the country as well as two teams with different styles of play. Miami FC emphasizes aggressive attacking play, while Duluth FC elects to stay patient and capitalize off of set pieces. Despite the style differences, both teams come into the match-up on massive runs of good form. Miami FC has rattled off eight straight victories, while Duluth FC has notched wins in nine of their last ten.

With both teams finding great success in their respective styles of play, look for the team that controls the tempo to also control the scoreboard.

Contributor: Daniel Cermak/
Photo Credit: Miami FC 2 and
Alex Ganeev Photography

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