By Abel Iraola
While Miamians continue to be kept in the dark about David Beckham’s upcoming Major League Soccer club, a local team in the second-tier is hitting the ground running.
The Miami Football Club Miami FC was announced in May, already making strides to begin playing next April. The ownership group, led by legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini and sports media rights mogul Riccardo Silva, have made major moves to ensure success for the new club.
Last week, Miami FC announced the hiring of Alessandro Nesta as the club’s first head coach. Nesta, a renowned Italian defender like Maldini, made his name as a key player for Serie A giants Lazio and Milan before heading to Montreal for MLS. They also hired Cesar Velasco to manage the team. Velasco comes with extensive experience in sports management, serving as director of communications, marketing and community relations for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Toronto FC and most recently, FC Dallas.
On Wednesday afternoon, Velasco held a Q&A on the club’s Facebook page to address supporters directly for the first time.
Although no major announcements came from the event, the general manager hinted that the new organization is aiming to make an impact in the often sports-averse Miami scene. The club hopes to avoid some of the pitfalls of running a second-tier club in a country not yet used to following teams below the major leagues.
Issues that have troubled other teams, including broadcast rights, stadium deals and player quality and development, were addressed during the hour-long question session.
Velasco said that that the club is currently in talks with broadcasters. The “goal is to have all Miami FC matches available for our fans,” Velasco said. It is still unknown where the club will play, but they are in negotiations and expect to make an announcement in four to six weeks. FIU Stadium has been rumored to be the preferred site, and it was confirmed on Wednesday that it is among the locations currently under consideration.
Looking ahead to on-the-pitch decisions, Velasco deferred to Nesta when questioned about the expected style of play, paraphrasing the coach’s recent response to a similar question, which indicated that he prefers an attacking style, however: “As an ex defender he will make sure he will have a strong defense,” Velasco said.
The club is looking at players both at home and abroad, and plans to make its first announcements within the next few weeks. They will also hold tryouts for local footballers in November.
Maldini, Silva and Velasco are intent on not only creating a successful club, but promoting the sport of soccer in South Florida.
Velasco said that a player development system is “a key objective.” However, he did not indicate whether that means they would follow an academy model.
Asked about Beckham’s MLS side, Velasco reiterated Miami FC’s support for Maldini’s former teammate.
“We support the project of the Beckham United Group to bring a team to Miami,” Velasco said. “This is great for soccer and all fans in South Florida.”
The front office remain confident that the club will succeed, drawing fans in Miami and across South Florida by building a championship-winning team. They plan to go full-strength into the NASL season as well as the U.S. Open Cup, the country’s domestic cup competition that spans all levels of American soccer.
“We believe in Miami and we believe in Miami soccer fans. We are building a club for Miami fans to call their own and be an active part of, hence ‘one club one voice’. We are working hard to build a championship caliber team for our city.”
The NASL’s spring season begins in April 2016.
Cover Photo Credit: miamifc.com