Miami FC achieves Spring Season goal

Miami FC wins NASL Spring Season Championship (Photo courtesy of Alex Toledo)

By Alex Toledo/Staff Writer


After winning their first spring season title, Miami FC is starting their quest to end up as Miami’s soccer franchise that worked.

The team finished with an 11-3-2 record in the spring, good for 36 points, which was a full 10 points more than the next closest team. They also beat teams outside of the NASL with statement performances throughout the season.

On Friday, July 21, the team held a public championship event at CityPlace Doral, where fans gathered to celebrate with the players, coaches and team staff alike.

“It feels great. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, especially with what this club is putting together. I think they have really big ambitions,” midfielder Kwadwo Poku said. “The ambitions with the management, it’s big. They want to get bigger. I’m happy to be a part of this project and building something big in Miami. I’m really excited about it.”

One thing that was important throughout their run was the team’s chemistry.

“Every winning team can tell you that if you don’t have that chemistry, from the coaches to the players, it’s never going to be a team. It doesn’t matter what players you have,”Poku said. “And I feel like this group, we have a really really good thing going on within the group and everything, so that helps a lot and keeps us going.”

The team’s coaching staff was also a point of emphasis when talking to the players.

“To have it be here in Miami is incredible. To have it be here with a winner like [Coach] Alessandro, I think his winning mentality, he’s a born winner, it rubs off on us,” said midfielder Lahoud. “There’s times when, with all the excuses that come with the models in South Beach and South Beach itself, with all the distractions and excuses to not come in week in and week out, he wills us through it. We find our will to deliver.”

There was also high praise for the way the team was assembled and run.

“Not just because I’m a part of it, but I think they do things differently than past Miami franchises,”Lahoud said. “I think it’s been a methodical approach. Riccardo and the ownership group have done a good job, knowing that you can have immediate success, but it’s about the long-term focus. Fans in Miami are used to seeing things come and go, but we want to deliver something that’s lasting. It’s easy when you get the stars, but can you sustain that? You really need to lay a foundation for something great and I’m honored to be a part of this foundation here.”

At this point, with there being no MLS presence in Miami since the Miami Fusion in 2001 and with other franchises in South Florida playing in lower-tier leagues, Miami FC might just be the most successful soccer franchise in the area. And they know it.

“We think we’re on our way to that, we think we can do that,” forward Stefano Pinho said. “There’s not been another soccer program to compete at this level except for us. I would say yes, easily, we’re the most successful franchise at this point,” midfielder Blake Smith said. “This is just the beginning.”

“We’re working for that. We’re working to make history for Miami,” midfielder Ariel Martinez said. “The time is now for soccer in this city. The amount of people passionate,” said midfielder Michael Lahoud. “There’s something special that happens here, where you have people with different cultures, different parts of the world and everything they do to unite with the game of soccer.”

Soccer fans in the city have taken notice as the team reached record-high attendances this season multiple times.

“I was here when we had the Miami Fusion. That was alright, but they weren’t really based out of Miami,” fan Edwin Vasquez said. “Miami FC is in every other community where there’s a lot of soccer being played and a lot of soccer has developed there. I believe they have the possibility and a great chance to be the most successful one,” Miami FC fan Edwin Vasquez said.

It is also worth noting just how quickly Miami FC became successful, after finishing 10 place in their first spring season last year, with a record of 1-4-5 and just seven total points.

“I feel like the team has evolved a lot and excelled since last season. We started really rough and didn’t win a game for four weeks,” Miami FC fan and Dade Brigade member Felipe Acosta said.

The fall season is now just around the corner, with the opener in New York against the Cosmos coming up on Saturday night.

“We want to go ahead and finish the fall strong,” Poku aid. “We’ve still got a young team. We’re in our second year and we have a championship trophy. We’ve got to maintain this and keep working hard at this,” said Pinho.

After that, they’ve got the US Open Cup quarterfinals at home against FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League, which was postponed due to severe weather conditions to Wednesday, August 2 at 7:30 p.m.

“We watched some highlights. They defend a lot, with a lot of guys in the back field. Since we’re playing at home now, I hope and think we will play well,” Pinho said. “It’s really big for us too. We love that we’re making history with Miami. We’re really happy with this and we think the city’s happy with us too.

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