MIAMI – Miami FC rallied from a two-goal deficit in the first half to take a 3-2 victory against the Charleston Battery on Sunday night at FIU Stadium as Billy Forbes scored the winner with 12 minutes to go despite the hosts being down to 10 men.
Coming off a wild midweek victory, the Battery took the lead in the 11th minute as Miami’s Speedy Williams tried to head a looping header from midfield to a teammate to control, but instead saw the ball cleverly controlled by Charleston’s Nicque Daley, who turned his marker to get into the penalty area before stabbing his finish past the advancing goalkeeper.
Miami went close to leveling in the 17th minute as Christiano Francois drove a cross from the right for Ariel Martinez that the Cuban didn’t quite connect with cleanly, allowing Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky to save. The hosts then put the ball into the net in four minutes later through Lamar Walker, only for the offside flag to be raised.
As Miami controlled pressure, though, the Battery withstood the pressure and then doubled their lead in the 31st minute as Daley stole possession on the right side in his own half and quickly broke forward on the counterattack. Daley threaded a pass through two defenders into the left channel for Zeiko Lewis as he joined the attack and the Bermuda international put home a finish just inside the left post.
Moments later, the hosts had a golden opportunity to halve the deficit as Kuzminsky misplayed a pass back and sent the ball straight to Martinez, but the Cuban didn’t shoot after rounding the goalkeeper to his left, allowing cover to arrive before Martinez lost possession under pressure from Kuzminsky, allowing the Battery to clear.
Martinez pulled a goal back for the hosts in the final minute of the first half, however, as he received possession and turned into space 35 yards from goal before navigating past a pair of defenders and shooting low into the bottom-right corner of the net. Daley had a chance to answer in stoppage time as he battled past a defender after controlling a flicked header in the Miami half but shot wide of the right post to leave it a one-goal game at the break.
The Battery had another chance to find the net 11 minutes into the second half as Lewis fired just wide of the right post from 25 yards out, while moments later Miami threatened as Junior Palacios regained possession after a piece of interplay with Othello Bah that set up a powerful shot that Kuzminsky did well to turn wide. The hosts got on level terms just past the hour-mark, though, as Robert Kcira played a perfect through-ball for Francois to break onto in the left side of the penalty area, and after his first touch created an angle to shoot past the advancing goalkeeper the Haitian international slid home his finish just inside the left post.
Kcira was sent off with 20 minutes to go after receiving a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident behind the play, leaving the hosts down a man, but despite that Miami took its first lead of the night in the 78th minute as Forbes struck. Awarded a free kick beyond the top-right edge of the penalty area, 25 yards from goal, the Turks and Caicos international fired a shot that went over the wall and picked out the top-right corner of the net.
Up a player, Charleston tried to find a response in the final 10 minutes and both Ben Di Rosa and Romario Piggott sent chances off target in the closing stages. As the game moved into stoppage time, the Battery went even closer as Piggott headed just wide of the left post off a cross from the left by Burke Fahling after the visitors had recycled a corner kick back out to the flank. There would be no late finish, however, as Miami held on for a big comeback victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Ariel Martinez, Miami FC – Martinez scored the opening goal in Miami’s comeback late in the first half and had two shots and one key pass while completing 32 of 37 passes overall and winning 3 of 5 duels.
CHS – Nicque Daley 11’
CHS – Zeiko Lewis (Nicque Daley) 31’
MIA – Ariel Martinez 45’
MIA – Christiano Francois (Robert Kcira) 61’
MIA – Billy Forbes 78’