Miami FC North America USL Championship

Training restarts at Miami FC as USL Championship set to resume

MIAMI, Fla. — (22 June 2020) There will be more games for the Miami Football Club this season. At last, something for fans to get excited about.

On Thursday, June 4, the USL Championship Board of Governors voted in favour of returning to play for the 2020 season, with a provisional start date set for the second week of July. There will be additional information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details forthcoming. USL’s return to play will be conducted in strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines. USL’s league office in Tampa remains in regular dialogue with the USL Players Association on all matters concerning player health and wellness protocols. The announcement opens the door for the Championship to become the first league in the United States to return to competition in its own venues.

The tentative date for the league to return to play is July 11.

Shortly after the league’s announcement, more good news arrived: The club was allowed to resume training at Florida International University, which they resumed in earnest on June 11. With the squad back in training, the anticipation is evident on the part of the players to get back into action.

Training resumed at FIU for the Miami Football Club.

Since only one game has been played in the season, it is too soon to know if the Aqua, Blue & Orange have a team that can match the level of success the team has enjoyed so far in their history. But president and general manager Paul Dalglish is optimistic of the changes. In an interview on Miami radio, he said , “We want to compete for the title in the USL Championship.”

Some new faces in 2020

With the restart of preparations to continue the season, it is a good time to review some of the signings Miami FC has made earlier this year.

Sebastián Velásquez

Midfielder Sebastián Velásquez was signed in early February. A native of Medellin, Colombia, Velásquez spent the second half of the 2019 USL Championship with El Paso Locomotive. He contributed seven goals and added two assists in the regular season for the Locomotive, which helped the club reach the Western Conference final. Velásquez also scored two postseason goals.

Sebastián Velásquez | Photo: Miami FC

“Sebastián is a player that has been on our radar for a while,” said Head Coach Nelson Vargas. “He’s the final piece we’ve wanted to complete our roster and we’re expecting great things from him. We know Sebastián will not only be a great addition on the field, but also off the field, where he is known for being very active in the community.”

Velásquez was selected in the 2012 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake, where his professional career began in 2012. During his time in Salt Lake City, Velásquez made 49 appearances, while assisting the club reach the MLS Cup in 2013.

After a successful time at RSL, the Colombian moved to the Big Apple with New York City FC, making 12 appearances with City in 2015. He played in the North American Soccer League’s in 2016 with Rayo OKC.

In 2017, Velásquez returned to Utah, signing with Real Monarchs of the USL Championship (the farm team of RSL), where he would play for two seasons and become one of USL’s most dangerous attacking midfielders. In 49 appearances with the club, he scored 16 goals and recorded 10 assists. His abundant attacking skills were an important piece in the Monarchs claim to the 2017 USL Regular Season title.

(Announced Feb 5, 2020)

Defender Hassan NDam Joins Miami FC on loan ahead of 2020 season.

Hassan Ndam

Miami FC also signed defender Hassan Ndam, who joined the club on loan from Major League Soccer’s FC Cincinnati for the 2020 USL Championship season.*

Hassan Ndam | Photo: Miami FC

Ndam, 21, started his North American career in New Jersey. He signed with MLS’ Red Bulls in March 2017, and made his pro debut for Red Bulls II of the USL Championship later that month. During his two seasons playing for New Jersey, Ndam made 57 appearances for Red Bulls II, while adding four more appearances at the MLS level.

“Hassan brings more experience to our roster, which we’re looking forward to,” said Head Coach Nelson Vargas. “He’ll fit perfectly in an already strong back line and with plenty of USL games in his short career it will help us get ready for a very tough upcoming season.”

Ahead of the 2019 season, FC Cincinnati selected Ndam in the MLS Expansion Draft. He would later be loaned out to USL Championship side Charlotte Independence, making six appearances with the club. 

Ndam, a native of Foumban, Cameroon, began his professional career playing for Rainbow FC. The Red Bulls signed him on January 31, 2017.

(Announced Feb 1, 2020)

János Löbe

Left-back János Löbe, originally from Kierspe, Germany was announced as a new signing on January 28, 2020. Löbe moved to the United States in 2015 to attend school at Fordham University in the Bronx. Löbe played four years at Fordham and had a standout university career, twice being named the Atlantic-10 Offensive Player of the Year, while scoring 26 goals and picking up 31 assists in 79 games. While at Fordham, Löbe had a brief stint for the Red Bulls’ U23 squad in USL League Two in 2018.  His performances for the Red Bulls’ U23 team as well as those at Fordham did not go unnoticed by the parent organisation in New Jersey, who selected him in the first round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.   

János Löebe | Photo: Miami FC

Löbe is known for his defensive capabilities and his pace down the left side of the pitch. “We’re excited to have János join Miami FC,” declared manager Nelson Vargas. “He has the ability to get into attacking positions and has a very good left foot. He will give us depth and tactical flexibility as well.”

In 2019, Löbe made 24 appearances Red Bulls II in the USL Championship, including a playoff appearance.

(Announced Jan. 28, 2020)

Brian Sylvestre

The Miami FC announced on January 23, 2020 that goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre had joined the club ahead of its inaugural 2020 USL Championship Season.

Brian Sylvestre | Photo: Miami FC

Sylvestre has South Florida roots, being from Hollywood, Florida. He played last season with USL League One’s Forward Madison FC. His performances were superb and helped Madison to the League One semifinals in the club’s first year of existence. Sylvestre closed out the season strong, allowing only three goals in Madison’s last eight league matches.

Earlier in his career, he played for Schultz Academy and Weston FC at the youth level, prior to joining the IMG Soccer Academy program in 2008. From there, he was signed to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Academy. His performances in the academy led him to sign his first professional contract with the Whitecaps in March 2011.

Sylvestre’s experience includes playing with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011 and 2012. From 2015 to 2017, Sylvestre started in over 50 matches for North Carolina FC (formerly known as Carolina RailHawks) of the USL Championship. In 2015, he earned 12 starts for Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, with five of those being clean sheets. He also played for the L.A. Galaxy in 2018.

“Brian is another great addition to Miami FC,” said Miami FC head coach Nelson Vargas. “He has MLS and USL experience which is always a plus. He solidifies an already very good core of goalkeepers and will raise the competition level.”

Sylvestre has good height at 6’5”, and is known for making acrobatic saves. He is expected to be a critical signing for Miami FC.

(Announced Jan. 23, 2020)

Miami FC’s opponents, dates and times will be announced soon. We will keep you posted as news becomes available.

By Ken Russo

While my background is in the legal industry, the skills acquired and fine-tuned in law practice are now applied to focus on the sport of football. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.