Miami Sports Day

NASL: Miami FC Falls to Fort Lauderdale, 2-0

After a three-hour lightning delay, the Miami FC hosted cross-town rivals Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night and fell 2-0.

“We played a slow game,” said Head Coach Alessandro Nesta. “We have to continue our momentum. We can’t play a game like this.”

They came out of the gate hot, applying pressure on all fronts and connecting passes with ease.

Those build-ups in play have been much more frequent since the start of the fall season. More attacks are being facilitated from the back and through the midfield. Kwadwo Poku has been one of the catalysts for that offensive resurgence, constantly threading diagonal passes over or under the defense and setting up his attackers.

Poku linked up nicely with Ariel Martinez on a number of occasions, like in the 25th minute when Martinez flicked a deft through ball to Poku after a give-and-go that ended with Poku’s shot being blocked by a wall of defenders.

Another in-season acquisition that has inspired that offensive resurgence is Jonny Steele. Similar to Poku, his cross-pitch passes have been deadly from his left foot, like in the 36th minute when he launched one from midfield into the left side of the box. The play ended with an audacious, and surprisingly close, overhead kick by Blake Smith that sailed wide.

The game settled down after an initial rush, but the home team proceeded to dominate possession to the tune of a 58.8% to 41.2% advantage and produce nearly all of the offensive threats in the game.

In the 70th minute, Poku and Martinez found each other again. Poku unleashed Martinez on a counter attack down the right wing. Martinez then instinctively picked out substitute Aaron Dennis with an over-the-top through ball. Dennis appeared to be taken down right before being able to corral the pass near the top of the box, but the referee didn’t blow the whistle.

Dennis was lively in his stint as a substitute, taking on defenders with confidence and winning free kicks, and causing havoc within the Strikers’ defense.

The match turned south for the Miami FC in the 84th minute. Paulo Jr. poked in a goal around Wilson Palacios and past an on-rushing Daniel Vega to give the Strikers a late lead. Then in the 86th minute, as the Miami FC looked to get an equalizer, the Strikers scored again on a counter attack with a finish by Amauri.

The Miami FC will head to Oklahoma City to take on Rayo OKC in their next match on August 20th.

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