Miami FC wins in rout; Strikers play to draw

From Miami Herald Staff Reports

Miami FC forward Dario Cvitanich is shown in a May 2016 file photo
Miami FC forward Dario Cvitanich is shown in a May 2016 file photo

Miami FC visited Puerto Rico and put in one of its best performances of the season with a 3-0 win late Saturday night. The team is unbeaten in the past four matches and has yet to lose on the road during the fall season of the North American Soccer League.

After an early flurry by Puerto Rico, Miami FC dominated the first half. Constant pressure and precise passing gave the Orange and Blue complete control of possession.

Several offside calls kept Miami FC off the board early on, but in the 15th minute the squad broke through.

Jonathan Borrajo played a great cross that found Jonny Steele far post. Steele blasted a perfectly timed volley and buried his shot in the back of the net, putting Miami FC ahead 1-0.

Vincenzo Rennella, in his first start, was a constant threat. On several occasions, he nearly increased Miami FC’s lead, but the referee’s flag kept him at bay.

Thirty minutes into the match, Puerto Rico FC started to push back. The home team created two great scoring chances, but failed to capitalize on either.

Miami FC continued to press for a second goal, but was happy to go into halftime with a 1-0 advantage.

The Orange and Blue came out in the second half and was even more dominant than in the first.

The onslaught started in the 51st minute. Steele played a great pass on the quick start, catching the Puerto Rico defense off guard. The pass floated to Poku, who had his shot blocked.

A minute later, Blake Smith floated a long ball into the box with teammates looking to get on the end of it. A risky last-ditch tackle kept the score at 1-0.

Undeterred, Miami FC kept pushing, scoring in the 54th minute. Rhett Bernstein thundered forward from his center back position and delivered a perfectly weighted through ball to a streaking Dario Cvitanich. Cvitanich then dribbled around the on-rushing for an easy finish.

With a 2-0 advantage, Miami FC did not let up. Consistent attacks would see Michael Lahoud, Rennella and Smith nearly score.

The Orange and Blue put the final nail in the coffin in the 88th minute. Lahoud got in behind the Puerto Rico backline and laid off a pass for Poku. Poku composed himself and beat the keeper near post for the Miami FC’s third goal.

▪ Strikers 0, Cosmos 0: The Strikers and Cosmos played to a scoreless draw late Saturday night at Central Broward Stadium.

Facing NASL combined table toppers the New York Cosmos, the Strikers were able to keep a clean sheet, thanks largely to the heroics of goalkeeper Bruno who made eight saves.

“This was a very high-level kind of match and you cannot make any mistakes. We tried to close the space but they had success finding opportunities. Bruno made some tremendous saves,” Strikers coach and general manager Caio Zanardi said.

New York started the stronger side but Fort Lauderdale had the first good chance to score of the game through an opportunity created on a counter attack for Jose Angulo.

Both teams were forced to make first-half substitutions through injury. Strikers captain Gale Agbossoumonde, who up until Saturday night’s match had played every minute of the NASL season, was forced off in the 31st minute after sustaining a knee injury.

Cosmos left back Ayoze produced a half-volley to force Bruno into his initial save of the night, starting off a spectacular evening for the Fort Lauderdale keeper, whose recent excellent performances have helped move the Strikers into postseason contention.

College soccer

The host University of Miami women’s team recorded its third shutout victory in a row Sunday with a 1-0 win over Florida Atlantic.

Senior forward Gracie Lachowecki scored the match’s lone goal early in the second half, and redshirt sophomore Phallon Tullis-Joyce made five saves.