Miami United cruised into the 2020 US Open Cup with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Delray Beach’s Hurricane FC in the final round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament.
While, Miami United’s senior team that competes in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) has qualified three times (2015, 2017, 2018), this is the first time the Under-23s team from the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) has punched their ticket.
The tone for the evening was set early on when United broke the deadlock with the game’s first meaningful effort on goal. A great free kick looped in from deep in the Hurricane half by Juan Fuenmayor found Bautista Dominguez in the penalty area. Dominguez beat Hurricane keeper Bruno to the ball and powered a header into the net.
Hurricane could have equalized with a long range effort by Jeremy Garcia Villatoro that caught Soto in the Miami United goal off-guard. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, the crossbar came to his rescue.
After that, it was one way traffic and United piled on three more goals, all from quality crosses from the wing.
In the 24th minute, a giveaway by Hurricane FC deep in their own end saw Matias Solari send a cross from the right side to Darryl Gordon who was wide open at the far post for the easy tap in.
Almost 15 minutes later, they would add a third when William Stamatis sent in a cross from the left wing and Nico Miccoli was making a run to the far post. Miccoli just barely beat the keeper to the ball and headed it into the back of the net.
In first half stoppage time, it was the same formula for United with Carlos Rodriguez sending in a cross from the right wing and Stamatis running on it and sending a powerful header, in stride, into the back of the net, beating the helpless goalkeeper.
The difference between the two teams came down to the experience on the Miami United side. Captain Ezequiel Tejera gave a masterclass in midfield, effortlessly controlling the tempo of the game. Winning the ball when needed and moving the ball round wonderfully in possession. Although with a 4-0 win it might be easier to look at the attacking performances, but it was defender Juan Fuenmayor who turned in a man of the match performance. In addition to his assist for the first goal and helping his side to a clean sheet, the 40-year-old former captain of the Venezuelan National Team also cleared a Hurricane effort off the line toward the end of the first half.
The second 45 didn’t live up to the exciting first stanza. Hurricane were unable to create meaningful chances. They almost got one back through a goalmouth scramble but Elizor was unable to force the ball into the net. United went more defensive and were happy to manage the game to it’s conclusion. As the half wore on and Hurricane pressed forward, they were unable to solve Bruno for a fifth goal on the break. The Hurricane keeper denied United on a few key occasions. The game ended 4-0 with Miami United able to soak up the noisy support from the sidelines, led by local supporter’s group Vice City 1896, and bask in the glory of a return to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
“Qualifying for the US Open Cup with our UPSL team is an amazing accomplishment for our club,” said Miami United FC club manager Crispino Meola. “We are trying to grow our youngest players and want to bring these players to the next level. We mixed them up with more experienced players so they can grow at a faster pace. Next NPSL season will see these young players have a more important role in our first team. They will have to slowly take over and become as successful as the older players. Miami United wants to promote our local players development even more, so our doors are open to young talented players for the upcoming season.”
It is unclear if the Miami United FC (NPSL) senior team will join their Under-23 team in the 107th edition of the US Open Cup next Spring. Based on TheCup.us projections, they are likely on the outside looking in, sitting at No. 22 on the list. This could change once the 2020 US Open Cup format is announced and the number of NPSL teams that are leaving the league is finalized (or if any teams decline to enter).
The format for the 2020 tournament is expected to be announced in January.