MIAMI – Two goals inside the opening 10 minutes proved enough to earn Miami FC a 2-1 victory against Loudoun United FC on Sunday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium as the hosts had to withstand a barrage of 34 shots from United while having to play the final 75 minutes reduced to 10 men.
With only two returnees in the starting lineup, it was almost inevitable that one of the club’s big offseason arrivals would strike first for Miami. That it was Paco Craig might have raised eyebrows, but the center back powered home an impressive header into the right corner of the net in the sixth minute off a cross by Ariel Martinez as the hosts recycled possession following a free kick on the right.
A minute later, Miami doubled its advantage as Pierre Da Silva battled for a long ball with Loudoun defender Wahab Ackwei, and as the defender tried to stab the ball away it instead clipped the inside of the left post and spun over the line for an own goal. The game tilted in favor of Loudoun in the 14th minute, however, when Janos Loebe was sent off after bringing down Kairou Amoustapha just outside the penalty area as he broke toward goal.
Sammy Sergi almost pulled a goal back 11 minutes before halftime with a sharp finish that clipped the top of the crossbar, but despite recording 13 consecutive shots before a late effort from Miami in stoppage time, Loudoun remained two goals down at the break. United’s pressure continued early in the second half, and Sergi forced a sharp save from Miami goalkeeper Conner Sparrow before Miami’s Lamar Walker was denied on a turning snap-shot moments later.
Loudoun continued to put pressure on Sparrow’s goal, though, and with eight minutes to go they were rewarded as Diego Lopez found Amoustapha in the right side of the penalty area for a rifled finish to the top-corner at the near post to ratchet up the pressure in the closing stages. Sergi then stabbed a close-range finish off a cross from the right by Amoustapha that Sparrow turned wide, but despite Loudoun’s late pressure the hosts held on to secure an opening three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Speedy Williams, Miami FC – Williams played an important role in Miami’s rearguard action to hold onto victory, recording nine clearances, seven recoveries and two interceptions while winning 6 of 8 duels.
MIA – Paco Craig (Ariel Martinez) 6’
MIA – Own Goal (Wahab Ackwei) 7’
LDN – Kairou Amoustapha (Diego Lopez) 82’