Miami Sports Day

NASL: Miami FC Edged by Puerto Rico, 1-0

MIAMI, Fla. – The Miami FC fell 1-0 to Puerto Rico FC in front of the second-biggest crowd in team history on Friday night. The game was delayed two hours due to lightning in the area.

Despite the weather, over 10,000 fans enjoyed a night of celebration featuring an appearance by Puerto Rican Championship boxer Miguel Cotto, followed by a post-match concert by Grammy Award-winning artist Elvis Crespo.

“With the subs I made, I was trying to push from the midfield but it did not work,” said Head Coach Alessandro Nesta. “We lost because we didn’t win duels, we were late every time.”

The game began with Puerto Rico nearly striking first. A ricochet off the goalpost had Vega out of position and the ball vertically even with the goal line. For the second home game in a row, Gabriel Farfán was there to boot the ball out and clear it off the line.

After a flurry of injury stoppages on both sides slowed the game down, Miami began to apply offensive pressure starting in the 18th minute.

Blake Smith looped in a threatening cross that fell right onto Farfán’s right foot, but Puerto Rico’s goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg made a fine save to keep the ball out. On the ensuing corner kick, Rhett Bernstein got a free header, but just steered it high over the goal post.

Five minutes later, a fantastic solo run from Poku ended with a Wilson Palacios one-time shot that was a bit high.

Daniel Vega was his dominant self early on, going full-stretch to keep a shot out of goal in the 26th minute.

Jaime Chavez was a thorn in Puerto Rico’s side, just as he’s shown to be against every team he plays. His constant pressure high up the field resulted in a takeaway of his own in Puerto Rico’s defensive third, but his shot was blocked at last breath in the 33rd minute.

The first half was slow-paced at times, but Miami had quick and easy chances on offense and controlled the majority of the ball.

The second half was a quicker affair, but was just as Miami-dominated as the first 45 minutes.

Chavez and Poku continued their commanding first half, constantly piercing through the defense with long runs.

Vincenzo Rennella had two powerful shots saved by Spangenberg. Both left-footed shots had plenty of pace on them, and Puerto Rico keeper was lucky to keep both from hitting the back of the net.

Miami had a bevy of headed shots from Pablo Campos and Rhett Bernstein go just wide.

In the 79th minute, a stray Puerto Rico attack gave them a free kick in Miami territory. On the free kick, the ball narrowly deflected off Campos’ head putting just out of Vega’s reach and giving Puerto Rico a 1-0 lead.

Miami pushed hard for an equalizer, but could not find the back of the net.

“We have to understand what happened here tonight,” added Nesta. “You can’t always play at 100%, but you still have to fight.”

The Miami FC has another home date against Ottawa Fury FC on Wednesday, September 28.

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