Eager to taste victory for the second weekend in a row, Miami FC came out crisp and full of energy against undefeated Indy Eleven Saturday night at FIU Stadium.
Miami FC was coming off its first league win of its inaugural season, and hungry for another one.
Instead, the home team and fans had to settle for a scoreless tie, the team’s third straight shutout in league play.
“We’ve had three clean sheets in the last three league games and that’s something we can really build on and take confidence in,” said Irish midfielder Richie Ryan, who joined the team a few weeks ago. “Going forward, we need to do a lot better. We had opportunities tonight to win the game, for me, it’s a game we should have won and I’m disappointed we didn’t. Indy is second in the league. We’ve shown tonight we can compete with the best teams in the league.”
Miami maintained possession 65 percent of the first half, and had a few good looks in the second half, but was unable to find the back of the net.
Coach Alessandro Nesta, the legendary Italian defender, said: “We lost an opportunity, but we played much better than the other games. We play one good, one down. We have to play the same level every game, or up, up, up.”
Dario Cvitanich, Ariel Martinez, Jaime Chavez and Blake Smith all took shots before intermission. Cvitanich found himself one-on-one in the box with Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch, and was called off-sides. Recently-signed Michael Lahoud and Ryan were extremely active from the start.
“When you have players like Ryan and Lahoud, it is much better for the other players because we have the ball more and we have to run less,” Nesta said. “This is very important.”
Lahoud said he feels the team is playing “more as a unit,” and he has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“Unfortunately, it was a draw, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Lahoud said. “I’m not one to start rivalries, but that team is very beatable, and moving into the fall, we will beat them. First half they looked lost. We did a good job of keeping the ball. Second half, we got a little bit lax. We lost the ball in bad spots. But we did enough to get a point, a well-deserved point.”
The second half began with a trio of quick shots by Chavez, Martinez and Mason Trafford, but none got past Busch. One of the best chances came in the 90th minute, when a Lahoud header off a free kick sailed just over the crossbar.
“They call me Air Highness,” Lahoud joked. “I felt really good going in, and said to myself, `Hey, be the guy to win the game.’ I knew what I wanted to do; unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it down. Next time I hope to keep it on frame and run out of here with my shirt off celebrating a win.”
Ryan said the although the team is new, that is no excuse for mistakes.
“The club is only six months old, but within this club we’ve got a lot of experience, so I don’t’ think we can have any excuses as players. We’ve got to take it on our own shoulders and make sure we turn things around.”
He said playing for Nesta is “brilliant.”
“He’s played at the highest level, won everything there is to be won in football,” Ryan said. “You can tell he’s a winner and he demands that from his winners. Over the coming weeks and months it’s going to be a mentality you’ll see more and more within the squad.”
Indy, which sits in second place in the NASL standings behind New York, is the only team without a loss. They have three wins and a league-high six ties.
Miami heads to Minnesota next Saturday, and returns to South Florida July 2 for a game against cross-county rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who upset the first-place New York Cosmos 2-1 on Saturday.