Soccer

Turn on, tune in, drop out: Miami outlasts NCFC 1-0

Posted August 15

Spectator sport is a venerable and potent form of psychological dissociation. It’s a construct both of and divorced from reality, an alternate enclave for its participants – combatants, purveyors, and audience – to unplug from everyday rigors, whether it’s how to pay the month’s bills or the unending quest for a more perfect union. In exchange, we willing accept pageantry and manufactured conflict, whether it’s between the Roman gladiators of yore or the gridiron gladiators of today. It’s a pastiche of combat, distilled to regimented rules and tolerable consequences.

So, as the world plays footsie with ethnic and nuclear conflagration, 3,525 souls enjoyed a respite of midweek footy between pseudo-warring factions Tuesday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park. North Carolina FC and the league-best Miami FC fought for the fifth time this year, and for the first time Miami found a win, 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal by Jaime Chavez.

“Every time we play against Carolina it’s difficult, because they have good players, they’re very organized, and the coach is good,” said Miami FC manager Alessandro Nesta. “Every time is a battle.”

The visitors christened the scoreline in the 15th minute. When North Carolina FC center back Connor Tobin moved out to close down Miami’s Ariel Martinez, Chavez slipped behind into Tobin’s space. The Miami forward caught a chip pass from Martinez, then slotted his shot past NCFC goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre for the ultimate 1-0 game-winner.

That’s all Miami would require, as it held North Carolina scoreless for the first game since June 17, a span of seven matches.

“I thought we started well,” said NCFC manager Colin Clarke. “We had three very good chances early on but didn’t take any. Miami is a good team, and that one little moment of good play by them … and now you’re behind a team that’s very good at possessing the ball, and passing and moving. You know it’s going to be hard when you go 1-nil down.”

This is is Miami’s first victory over North Carolina FC in five attempts this year, making NCFC the last NASL team Miami has beaten in 2017. It’s also Miami’s first victory at WakeMed Soccer Park in the club’s two-year history. Last Saturday, Clarke said he expected Miami to approach Tuesday’s game the same as the their previous four clashes. Instead, Miami – perhaps out of necessity – was a bit more defensive-minded.

“We played against [North Carolina FC] two weeks ago, so we know what they do,” Nesta said. “They prepared their game like last week, and for us it was easier to understand how they defend.

“We went a little [deeper] with the strikers line because we are not very brilliant at this moment,” Nesta continued. “We can’t press every time, and our legs are a bit tired. We had to leave less space for our midfield to cover in defense.”

“They didn’t have two forwards, as such,” Clarke said. “They had an extra body between our lines – Martinez was trying to play as a forward, but his natural instincts are to come a little deeper, so that really overloaded the midfield on us.”

North Carolina FC (7-5-8, 26 pts.) flies west this Saturday to face the second-place San Francisco Deltas. That’s followed by two key home games, first on Saturday, Aug. 26, against the New York Cosmos and then FC Edmonton the following Saturday, Sept. 2.

In the meantime, Clarke and team are left rueing the lone point they mustered over these two games on home grass.

“We’re disappointed out of two home games to get only one point,” Clarke said. “If things had gone our way, we could have ended up with six. But they didn’t, so we need to take stock and work on the positives … We’ve got to get better in front of the opposition goal.”

We now return you to regular programming.


BOX SCORE

LINEUPS

NCFC: Sylvestre, Black, Tobin, Ibeagha, Miller, Akinyode (Kandziora, 81’), da Luz, Albadawi, Carranza (Shipalane, 72’), Laing (Gorne, 72’), Schuler

MIA: Vega, Bernstein, Ruthven, Freeman, B. Smith, Ryan, Lahoud, Martinez (Palmer, 67’), Poku (Rennella,78’), Mares (Rezende, 90’), Chavez

GOALS

NCFC: ---

MIA: Chavez, 15’ (Martinez)

CAUTIONS

NCFC: Carranza, 43’

MIA: Lahoud, 47’; Chavez, 74’

EJECTIONS

NCFC: ---

MIA: ---

ATTENDANCE: 3,525

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