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Miami FC: The winningest SoFla team you’ve never heard of

“That’s some Miami quality rain,” said Jonathan Duckworth, a local Miami soccer fan. He and a few hundred other stranded Miami Football Club acolytes were huddled under the awnings of FIU’s Ricardo Silva Stadium as sheets of water fell around them. It was dark. The parking lot was flooded. Even in the Florida summer, people were cold, and the game between Miami FC and FC Cincinnati that had been scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, July 12th, was soon to be canceled.

Karl Cheney and Jack Novak, two Cincinnati fans who had come down from Ohio to Miami for the game, were devastated and surprised. “It definitely doesn’t rain like this back home. I hope they play tomorrow,” sighed Karl. The teams wouldn’t. The game was rescheduled for August 2.

Soccer in its purest form is about as hyperlocal a sport as you can imagine. Teams the world over function as a civil religion of sorts, offering solidarity and a sense of belonging. It’s why you get dudes driving down from the midwest to see a soccer game in South Florida. Miami FC, even though it belongs to The North American Soccer League, the league right under the MLS, is no different; their fans love them.  Oh, and the team just finished a 13-game winning streak.

“Soccer gets the most passion from this city,” explains the organization’s CEO, Sean Flynn. Though supporters of #heatnation would probably beg to differ, Miami FC definitely has two things that the city’s other major professional franchises don’t: a winning record, and the Dade Brigade.

The “Dade Brigade” are the devoted class of the Miami FC fan base, they keep the energy going through the game with chants, drums, and, of course, vuvuzelas. Omar Moubayed, who runs the Magic City Soccer podcast, a weekly roundup of local soccer news, was a founding member of the fan club. “They’ve (the Dade Brigade) got the ‘Vamos Miami’ chant, which is a typical Spanish soccer chant. They also have some chants I don’t agree with,” he said. “… There’s the ‘Fuck David Beckham’ chant, for example.”

And even though the brigade’s function is to keep spirits up, win or lose, the Miami FC’s domination of the The North American Soccer League spring season, where they finished first, has kept both the brigade and regular fans on their toes.

Miami FC star forwards Vincenzo Renella, Stéfano Pinho, and midfielder Kwadwo Poku, aren’t exactly household names, but they’ve scored a whopping 38 goals over the past two seasons. The stars of the two-year-old team have also shaped some daring upset victories on established MLS franchises like Atlanta United and Orlando City SC. (the NASL sometimes plays the MLS) Editor’s note: This line has been edited to correctly reflect the name of the Orlando MLS team. 

“Miami FC is the highest level of soccer you can regularly see in Miami,” opines Omar. Now that El Clásico has come and gone, and Messi and Ronaldinho have left town, the scrappy upstart organization may just be the best soccer show in town.

By Mario Ariza
Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant who grew up in Miami. A Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program, he is currently working on a nonfiction book about South Florida and Sea Level Rise. On a day with a good swell and northeasterly breezes, you’ll find him surfing on South Beach (yes, there’s actually surfing Miami.)