Alex Rivera/Staff Writer
Miami FC is back at FIU to kick off the 2020 season.
This season brings a lot of change: a new league, new manager, and a return to their original home.
The club, owned by Riccardo Silva, first began to play in 2016 with their home games at FIU’s Riccardo Silva Stadium and playing in the North American Soccer League. In their time in the NASL, Miami FC was able to win the regular-season championship and advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, before being eliminated by USL side FC Cincinnati, which eventually turned into an MLS expansion team.
When the NASL collapsed in 2017, Miami FC was relegated to playing in a semi-professional league: the National Premier Soccer League. In this league, Miami FC went from playing 32 regular-season games to 22 from 2018 to 2019. In both seasons, the team was able to win both the regular-season championship and the playoffs.
What else happened when Miami FC left the NASL? Miami FC stopped playing their home games at Riccardo Silva Stadium. The team played games at St. Thomas University as well as at Barry University.
Also in 2019, Miami FC played in the fall portion of the National Independent Soccer Association’s 2019-2020 season, going undefeated and again winning both the regular season and playoff championship. This season marked the first return by the team to Riccardo Silva Stadium.
In December 2019, Ottawa Fury FC transferred their franchise rights to Miami FC, allowing the team to compete in the United Soccer League Championship for the 2020 season. With this transfer, Miami FC is back to playing in the second tier of the US Soccer pyramid and playing all their home games at Riccardo Silva Stadium. In doing so, Miami FC will have the largest capacity venue in the USL Championship for a team that is not affiliated with an MLS team, and the second-largest overall.
Miami FC has a new manager in Nelson Vargas, a promotion from being an assistant coach before. Prior to coaching, Vargas played in the MLS for Miami Fusion.
It may be difficult for Miami FC to draw its fanbase to Riccardo Silva this time around. It was in 2014 that it was announced that Miami was awarded an MLS expansion team, Miami not having been home to a professional soccer team since the days of Miami Fusion.
At that time, Miami FC was the only professional soccer around, their club being present at various gatherings in Miami-Dade, from parades to other sporting events.