The crowd goes wild for the Miami FC
By: Jennifer Agress
Soccer Fans Unite in Miami.
With players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Hope Solo and Mia Hamm, soccer has risen to global stardom as a premier sport in the US, South America, Europe and beyond. Thanks to the 2016 launch of Miami FC here in sunny Miami, soccer fans have reignited that passion in the Magic City.
Go to a soccer game and you’ll see diehard fans painted in the colors of their teams, wearing their favorite player’s jersey and cheering, yelling and screaming louder than they ever have before. At its core, soccer is a game of passion.
History of Soccer in Miami
Soccer in Miami first began in the early 1970s, when Elizabeth Robbie brought the Miami Toros to South Florida in 1973, making her the first woman to own a professional sports franchise. During that time, the team made it to the championship in 1974 and named two players, Warren Archibald and Steve David, league MVPs in 1973 and 1975, before becoming the Fort Lauderdale Strikers a year later.
As the Strikers, the team was very popular in South Florida. Between 1977 and 1983, the team welcomed a packed stadium and reached the playoffs every year, and in 1989, they won a national championship. With soccer now on everyone’s radar, the years that followed saw soccer clubs popping up all over South Florida, from the Miami Freedom and Miami Sharks, to teams from Coral Springs and Boca Raton, and for four years, the Miami Fusion, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team.
Miami FC Today
Fast forward to May 2015, and Miami soccer fans are celebrating the arrival of the Miami Football Club, or Miami FC, a member of the North American Soccer League (NASL), which kicked-off its inaugural season in 2016.
Today, it is Miami’s sole professional soccer club, and as such, will compete in the U.S. Open Cup and will host international tournaments and regular-season matches throughout the year.
The launch of Miami FC is not only changing the landscape of sports in Miami, which has long only had football, basketball and baseball teams, but also giving Miami fans what they believe will be the lasting soccer team they have long been waiting for.
“From the start, I think I was like every other Miami soccer fan: skeptical. There have been multiple teams come through Miami, and every time, we all get hyped about having professional soccer in Miami before it falls through,” says Chris Corey, a member of the Dade Brigade, the official supporters group of the Miami FC and one of the team’s biggest fans. “I’ve come to the realization that Miami FC is doing it now and they are a proper club.”
Of course, every great team needs amazing leadership, and Miami FC has some of the best. Its co-owners are sports media entrepreneur Riccardo Silva and five-time European champion, FIFA World Cup competitor and former defender for AC Milan, Paolo Maldini.
In 2015, the pair announced Italian soccer legend Alessandro Nesta – an iconic defender, one of FIFA’s 2004 “100 Greatest Living Players,” a four-time recipient of the Series A Defender of the Year and a 2006 World Cup Champion – as head coach. In 2016, 25-year professional sports veteran Sean Flynn joined the organization as CEO of Miami FC, bringing with him a passion for the game and finally giving it the success it deserves in Miami.
"Miami is a fútbol town, and we have some of the most loyal, knowledgeable soccer fans in the nation,” says Flynn. “This is one of the country’s premier soccer teams, with an incredible coach, at the right time for soccer in Miami. When fans go to our games, they have so much fun, and it’s easy to see why. My favorite part about going to games is being able to interact with Miami’s incredible soccer community.”
And speaking of a fan base, the soccer scene in Miami definitely has one. More than that, like any sports team with a large following, the Miami FC and its followers have become their own family.
“The team is getting out there and earning it – both on the pitch and in the community.
If you’ve been to a match, there’s a good chance you’ve even met CEO Sean Flynn at the tailgate,” says Corey. “Word is getting out that there is a real soccer organization with an ownership group, a front office and fans dedicated to our city. Get ready, Miami – soccer is here!”
Miami FC began its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in April of 2016. Miami’s newest pro club will play its home games at Riccardo Silva Stadium at FIU. Miami also has two teams competing in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The Miami Fusion play its home games at Ted Hendricks Stadium at Milander Park in Hialeah and Miami United plays at Flamingo Park on South Beach.
For more information and to purchase tickets to a Miami FC match visit MiamiFC.com.
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