Miami FC returns home Saturday night as the top team in the North American Soccer League, and hopes to maintain the No. 1 spot with a win over Indy Eleven.
Miami took the league lead after a come-from-behind road victory at Puerto Rico last weekend. Indy has tied six games in a row heading into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. match at FIU’s Riccardo Silva Stadium.
“Now, everybody wants to beat us,” said Miami FC coach Alessandro Nesta. “It is one thing to get to the top and another to remain there. We are the hunted team. I told the players that now every game is like a final, and we have to prepare that way.”
Indy presents a unique challenge, Nesta said.
“They never win, they never lose,” he said. “They are a good team, and it’s tough to beat them. Teams tie them, but don’t beat them.”
Miami had three wins, two ties and one loss through six games and with 11 points is a point ahead of the Jacksonville Armada. The team, in its second season, has improved over last year partly because of new player signings, and also because the team had a full preseason to get ready.
“Last year, we had to rush and had no preseason, but this year, we had time to work together as a group,” Nesta said. “We also raised our quality with a few new players.”
The club will celebrate Brazilian Heritage Night at the game, so fans will be treated to Brazilian food and music. And, Nesta hopes, a good game from Brazilian forward Pinho, the former Fort Lauderdale Striker, who has made an immediate impact.
“Everytime Pinho attacks without the ball, the opponent has to pay attention to him and that opens up space for other players,” Nesta said. “He has made a big difference for us this season.”
Miami ranks second in the league with an average of 7,217 fans over the first three home games.
“I hope we have a good crowd because without people watching, it doesn’t make sense for us to play,” Nesta said.
Tickets start at $15 and are available at the stadium box office. On May 17, Miami FC plays the second round of the U.S. Open Cup against the South Florida Surf (PDL league) at University of Miami’s Cobb Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Miami FC vs. Indy Eleven
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: FIU’ Riccardo Silva Stadium
Promotion: Brazilian Heritage Night
Tickets: Start at $15