Miami FC finally met a U.S. Open Cup opponent it couldn’t beat — Mother Nature.
Torrential rain and a severe thunder and lightning storm postponed Wednesday night’s quarterfinal match between NASL Spring champion Miami FC and FC Cincinnati, an endearing United Soccer League team that drew 32,000 fans for its last match.
The game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., was finally called at 9:30 p.m. as the deluge and lightning continued. Officials of the teams were in contact with the U.S. Soccer Federation, considering options for a makeup date.
Both teams have league road games on Saturday and are traveling Thursday, so the makeup game will not be before next week. Officials of Miami FC, FC Cincinnati, FIU and U.S. Soccer Federation are expected to decide on a date sometime Thursday. Tickets from Wednesday’s game will be valid for the makeup game.
A Miami FC-record crowd of 10,000-plus (including a few hundred fans who traveled from Cincinnati) was expected at FIU’s Riccardo Silva Stadium for the clash between the only two non-Major League Soccer teams left in the 99-team knockout tournament, which includes amateur, semi-pro and professional clubs.
“Advance sales were well ahead of the Atlanta game [which drew 9,004], the buzz was phenomenal, but it’s South Florida in the summer, unfortunately, and we get these weather patterns,” Miami FC CEO Sean Flynn said. “We tried to get the match in, but there came a point where we had to call it off. It’s disappointing for us, our supporters, Cincinnati, U.S. Soccer, but we’re going to play the match, and our goal is to have that match here at Riccardo Silva Stadium.”
Thousands of fans ranging from soggy to drenched sprinted through puddles into the stadium despite the downpour and lightning display, which lit up the sky every two to three minutes for several hours.
They waited, and waited, and waited. They drank beer. They bought $5 Miami FC rain ponchos. And they danced. A lot.
In true Miami fashion, the fans turned a disastrous soccer evening into a party. D.J. Cuban Pete, under a tent in the north concourse, was the Most Valuable Player of the night, delighting the crowd with salsa, pop, rap music and rock anthems such as AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
When the game was finally postponed, the north concourse had transformed into a makeshift dance club.
“The party in the north concourse was amazing; people didn’t want to leave,” Flynn said. “You gotta love our fans. Through rain or shine or lightning, they stayed strong. The buzz was palpable, and they were ready to have a good time. Now , it’s going to build some more. The suspense will carry on. I just hope all those fans bring those tickets back for the makeup game.”
Flynn said the players were anxious all night, hoping they could get the game in.
The match was billed as a battle between two of the most surprising teams in American pro soccer.
Both teams play in second-division leagues and were coming off back-to-back upsets of Major League Soccer opponents. They guaranteed that a Division 2 team will be in the U.S. Open semifinal for the first time since 2011.
The winner of the Miami-Cincinnati match will play the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls.
Semifinal matches are scheduled for Aug. 9 and the Cup final is Sept. 20.
Fans who lost their Wednesday tickets can call the Miami FC office at 844-MIAMIFC and they will be re-issued with proof of purchase.