Miami FC plays its season home opener at 7:30 Saturday night against defending league champion New York Cosmos, which Miami beat 3-0 on the road last weekend.
The teams will inaugurate the new turf field at the stadium formerly known as FIU Stadium, now called Riccardo Silva Stadium, in honor of the Miami FC owner, who poured $3.76 million into the facility — the largest donation in FIU Athletics history.
Stadium upgrades also include a high-definition jumbo screen.
Miami coach Alessandro Nesta and his players are eager to test the new field and show fans how they have improved since last season. The team finished in seventh place last season.
“This season, we are starting with a complete roster, with two months of preparation and we will be playing in a beautiful field,” Nesta said. “I am more relaxed this season. Last year, I was new, didn’t know the league, the players, nothing. I had to learn. Now, I know what to expect.”
He is encouraged by the addition of his new players, including Brazilian midfielder Michel, a 35-year-old who has played in Brazil, Europe and Major League Soccer. Other newcomers are Dylan Mares from Indy Eleven and former Fort Lauderdale Striker Stefano Pinho, a striker who won the NASL Golden Ball award in 2015. Mares and Pinho both scored against the Cosmos last weekend.
Captain Michael Lahoud says this year’s team appears harder working and more resilient than the team last season.
“Last year, we were a new group and felt shaky and uncertain at times,” Lahoud said. “This year, I see a big difference. Also, (Coach Nesta) is taking a more calm, level-headed approach. He’s a perfectionist and one of the best defenders of all time, but he realizes that he has to be patient with us because not all of us can play like Nesta.”
As for the new turf, Nesta said it should make a world of difference.
“Last season, we were on a very old field that created a lot of problems; it was terrible,” Nesta said. “Of course, I prefer natural grass, but this turf is very nice, and just needs a couple of months to compress. It is a huge improvement.”
▪ Nova Southeastern 2, Rollins 0: Lexie Storrer drove in the winning run as the host Sharks (21-19, 9-7 SSC) defeated the Tars (23-19, 5-8).
▪ Eckerd 3, Barry 0: The host Buccaneers (16-21, 8-11 SSC) were shot out by the Tars (15-26, 4-12).
▪ Nova Southeastern 8, Eckerd 1: Isabella Lowrey picked up her first singles win of the season as the Sharks (7-8, 4-4 SSC) snapped their three-match home losing streak with a win over the Tritons (4-11, 0-7).
▪ Miami 5, Lousiville 2: Coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews her 261st win in 13 years in the ACC, good for fifth place on the conference’s all-time list as the Hurricanes (6-9, 4-5 ACC) beat the host Cardinals (13-8, 2-7).