March 25, 2017
FIT TO BE TIED
Miami opens 2017 with road draw
CARY, NC---Poku’s first goal of the year in the 14th minute was enough to give Miami FC a 1-1 road draw with North Carolina FC in front of 6,058 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday night.
It was the opening match of the 2017 North American Soccer League campaign for both clubs.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the fourth minute. A Hunter Freeman pass was intercepted by NCFC’s Lance Laing. Laing then played the ball into forward Matt Fondy who sent the ball by Miami goalkeeper Daniel Vega to make it 1-0.
New Miami midfielder Dylan Mares played an excellent through ball that sent Poku toward the net on a one-on-one with NCFC goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre. Poku’s original shot was blocked by the keeper. But the ball went to Stefano whose shot was blocked by Poku. Poku quickly recovered and put the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-1.
“After the early goal I think we played a very good first half,” said Miami FC Head Coach Alessandro Nesta. “We came into the match with many injures and both teams looked tired in the last 30 minutes, so I am happy to take a point from the match.”
As halftime approached, Miami began to take control of the match.
In the 44th minute Mares sent a hard shot from distance that was destined for the upper corner, but a great stretching save by Brian Sylvestre kept the score deadlocked.
In stoppage time, a strong Poku run sparked a Miami FC counter attack. As he went forward, he was joined by Stefano who eventually received the ball. Stefano got off a shot, but it was stopped, sending both teams off at halftime tied, 1-1.
At the beginning of the second half, NCFC created multiple chances early on. Vega was up to the task, coming up with two huge back-to-back saves in the first ten minutes.
In the 68th minute Gabriel Farfan played in another cross to Miami’s three forwards, but it was punched away at the last second.
As the minutes ran down, NCFC was able to play dangerous crosses, but never had a target to finish off those chances.
Miami forward Vincenzo Rennella came in at the 71st minute to spark the offense.
In the 86th minute, Rennella got by three NCFC defender with some fantastic ball-handling. Rennella sent in a quality cross that could not connect with a teammate.
The 90th minute saw Mares curl in a shot that just missed the upper corner for the second time, trying to get Miami FC the lead.
Near the end of stoppage time, Rennella’s free kick was off target.
Miami FC remains on the road next week as they meet the New York Cosmos next Saturday in the second match of the Spring Season.