Desperate for a victory after a three-game losing streak, Miami FC overcame Indy Eleven and stifling humidity to beat Indy Eleven 3-1 Saturday night at FIU Riccardo Silva Stadium.
Miami had to play without injured forward Vincenzo Rennella, who led the league in scoring with 10 goals heading into the weekend. Jaime Chavez started in his place, and made a big impact. He delivered a perfect cross in the 47th minute to Brazilian forward Pinho, who was waiting at the far post of the Indy goal and headed it in to put Miami on the scoreboard.
Midfielder Dylan Mares made it 2-0 in the 59th minute on a breakaway, dribbling around Indy defender Numenja Vukovic in the box and firing a shot past goalkeeper Jon Busch. Pinho struck with his head again in the 69th minute, off a cross from Hunter Freeman, to give Miami a 3-0 lead and delight the crowd of 5,003.
With those two goals, Pinho reached 11 for the season, and took over the NASL scoring lead, leapfrogging Rennella. But the game didn’t end well for Pinho. He limped off the field with an ankle injury in the 89th minute, and captain Michael Lahoud injured his hamstring in extra time.
Indy’s lone goal came from Eamon Zayed in the 88th minute.
“It felt great to get that win,” Mares said. “Everyone stepped it up at practice this week, we changed a few things tactically, and all the hard work paid off.”
After a 14-game unbeaten streak, an NASL Spring Championship, and back-to-back victories over Major League Soccer teams in the U.S. Open Cup, Miami FC had dropped three games in a row heading into Saturday’s match.
The streak included a 3-1 loss to the New York Cosmos, 1-0 to the USL’s FC Cincinnati in the Open Cup quarterfinals, and a 3-2 home loss last weekend to North Carolina.
Miami came out with a sense of urgency on Saturday, and had several scoring chances early, including two headers from Pinho, but they were unable to find the back of the net in the first half and the score was tied 0-0 at intermission.
“Too many mistakes,” Miami FC coach Alessandro Nesta said at halftime. “This type of game, if you don’t score, one counter can beat you. We have to score in the second half.”
His players clearly got his halftime message.
Despite the slump, Miami is 12-4-3 overall this season and entered the weekend with a six-point cushion over second-place San Francisco in the league standings.