Six games on tap tonight, including the first game back for the last team to return to action in the Championship since the season resumed. Here’s your Morning Tea for this Wednesday.
It will have been 145 days since Miami FC last took the field for its debut in the USL Championship when the side finally makes its return to action on Wednesday night against Atlanta United 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
And as the last of the Championship’s 35 teams to take the field since the season resumption on July 11, the wait to rebound from its opening loss to Saint Louis FC has certainly been a long one for Miami Head Coach Nelson Vargas.
“It seems like it’s been an eternity,” Vargas said. “Right now, it’s kind of all been a blur because things have happened so quickly. I guess in retrospect, in a couple of years when I look back I can have a better analytical point of view, but it’s just getting back on the field and trying to fix the things that we as a coaching staff thought we didn’t do well in that first game against Saint Louis.”
If the build-up to Miami’s return to action has been a blur, that figures to be the theme for the rest of the season for the Championship newcomer. With its regular season currently set to conclude on Sunday, October 4, the club is set to face a sprint of 15 games in 68 days. That’s an average of a game every 4.5 days, which is likely to be a test of the club’s depth as it pursues a top-two finish in Group H and a place in the playoffs.
With the solid restart already made by fellow Group H clubs the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Charleston Battery, there certainly will be pressure on Miami to match the victories both of those clubs have taken against ATL UTD 2 since the resumption of the season. After the club’s slow start in Saint Louis back in March, shaking off any rust from a lack of match action and matching Atlanta’s intensity early is going to be essential.
“We’ve analyzed Atlanta’s team,” said Vargas. “They’re very young, very athletic and very energetic. Like anything, you can have all the experience in the world but if you don’t match that intensity from the second the whistle blows it could be a long night, so experience is great but at the end of the day you have to match your opponents intensity and that’s something we’re looking to do right from kickoff.”
- Since the inception of Sacramento Republic FC’s Academy, three academy players have signed First Team contracts with the club, another eight have signed with another professional team, 33 academy players were called into national team programs and 42 signed with Division I college soccer programs. The Sacramento Bee’s Cameron Salerno dug into how the club has achieved success in bringing top local talent through to the next level.
- The Charlotte Independence showed some of the rust 139 days without a game could cause but still earned a point from its visit to Memphis 901 FC in its return to action. The Charlotte Post’s Ashley Mahoney has more on how the club is setting up to build back its sharpness ahead of next Wednesday night’s game against Group G leader Birmingham Legion FC.
- The silent auction of special edition jerseys worn by Birmingham Legion FC in its July 15 game against Memphis 901 FC in support of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute raised almost $10,000. The Birmingham News’ Joe Goodman has more on how the jerseys not only caught the imagination of fans but epitomizes how the club continues to tap into the civic pride that courses through the city.
- The Trailheads have become an essential part of gameday at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC games, growing each year of the club’s history with new converts to the game. The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Kate Shefte caught up with some of the group’s members to talk about their path to fandom, and the relationships that have been forged between the club’s supporters and players.
- Did you enjoy Tuesday morning’s Big Story on Saint Louis FC’s Tyler Blackwood? Well, good news, he was also the guest on Steele Some Time this week, where hosts Kelsi Steele and Scott Stewart also dug into Tyler Pasher’s miraculous winner for Indy Eleven against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and much more.
- There's a big interdivision matchup out west as Sacramento Republic FC plays host to Orange County SC at Papa Murphy's Park. Indomitable City Soccer has three things to watch as Republic FC tries to end OCSC's undefeated start to the season.
- For the United States Men’s National Team, the start of World Cup Qualifying under Concacaf’s new format is just under a year away. For some national team players in the USL Championship, though, the call to represent their country could arrive later this year. Jon Arnold has four key talking points to come out of the federation’s reformatted plan to fit everything into the calendar for the next two years.
- Where else could the USL Championship’s Return to Play model work? According to Stanley Cup of Chowder’s Dan Shulman, the Championship’s regionalized model could be a competition structure that would help the American Hockey League begin play in the 2020-21 season.