By Nicholas Poblete/Staff Writer
A historic run by the Miami FC ended on Sunday, losing in penalty kicks against the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League Championship semi-final, at the Riccardo Silva Stadium.
“We had a season to remember, to say the least.” defender Hunter Freeman said. “We broke numerous records, but this is the way soccer in America is set up in the playoffs, everything is back to zero and it’s a one-off game.”
The Cosmos defeated Miami in the penalty shootout 5-6 after 120 minutes of deadlock.
Midfielder Michel and defender Mason Trafford failed to convert their penalty kicks for Miami. For the Cosmos, midfielder Juan Guerra was the only player to miss from 12 steps.
Miami FC had the majority of possession, 54.2%, but were not able to capitalize in front of goal, with five shots on target.
With the win over Miami, Cosmos will make their third-consecutive appearance in an NASL Championship match. The Cosmos will face San Francisco Deltas in the final. New York has won three of the last four NASL Championships.
Miami FC became the first NASL team to win both fall and spring season, tallying up 69 points in the combined standings, 15 points over second-place San Francisco Deltas.
Alessandro Nesta’s team also led the league in most goals scored, with 61, and most shutouts, with 15.
Forward Stéfano Pinho ended the regular season as the NASL top goalscorer thanks to his 17 goals, while forward Jaime Chávez led the league in assist, with 9.
Back in September, the United States Soccer Federation proclaimed that the NASL would be stripped of its second division status. Since then the NASL has claimed that the USSF has not made a decision with the sports best interest in mind.
On Saturday, a judge denied the lawsuit brought by NASL against USSF.
“The United States and today’s decision confirms it was the correct decision,” U.S. Soccer tweeted after the court’s decision. “U.S. Soccer is committed to finding ways to improve the long-term viability of all leagues and teams and, by doing so, continue building upon the growth of soccer in the United States. U.S. Soccer is committed to working with NASL as it considers its future.”
Primary owner and president of Miami FC, Riccardo Silva, has been one those spearheading the fight for promotion and relegation for soccer in the United States.
“The most successful soccer leagues are based on competition. And that’s what’s probably missing in U.S. soccer,” Silva said in an interview with ESPN. “There is no motivation for teams to invest in quality because you can’t move from the third division to the second, or from the second to the first.”
After Sunday’s elimination, it is uncertain what league Miami FC will play in next season, whether it be in the NASL or be forced to move to another league.
The offseason will be crucial for the future of the NASL and the Miami FC.