MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s finally happening.
The “Miami Clasico,” a dream encounter for local soccer diehards, will kick off Tuesday night.READ MORE: Man's Remains Found In Shallow Grave Behind Miami Gardens Home, Woman Arrested
Inter Miami CF, the David Beckham-led Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise will head south on the Turnpike to face The 305’s second division team, Miami FC, in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
MIAMI CLÁSICO HERE WE COME!
— Miami FC (@TheMiamiFC) April 8, 2022
Tuesday’s match at Miami FC’s home of Ricardo Silva Stadium will mark the first time that Miami’s top two soccer teams have faced each other in meaningful competition.
While they’ve never been eye-to-eye on the pitch, Inter Miami and Miami FC have shared a budding rivalry on social media, in supporters’ sections, and in bars across South Florida. At the core of the simmering feud is the very different paths the teams have chosen for crafting their identities and how they connect to the local community.
Befitting any team with David Beckham as its chief brand ambassador (local brothers Jorge and Jose Mas actually own the majority stake in the team), Inter Miami fancies itself as South Florida’s glamor club. The Herons, as fans have nicknamed them, feature the likes of forward and captain Gonzalo Higuain, best known for his years with European giants Real Madrid and Juventus, and DeAndre Yedlin, a fullback likely to land a spot on the U.S. men’s national team roster for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
While the pink-and-white of Inter Miami has managed to capture the postcard polish and panache of Miami, they have one major problem locally: they have played in Ft. Lauderdale since the franchise’s inaugural season in 2020.
In fact, Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match will mark the first time Inter Miami has played a competitive match in Miami-Dade County. The team’s effort to find a Miami home, Miami Freedom Park, has been littered with false starts, political opposition, and is currently up for a crucial vote with the city commission.
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— Miami FC (@TheMiamiFC) April 17, 2022
Their would-be rivals, Miami FC, have bounced a bit in terms of their home stadium, but they have always proudly been in Miami-Dade County. Since 2020, they have taken root at the heart of FIU’s campus, in a stadium once named after the team’s owner.
While Miami FC may not have household names, their squad does feature faces familiar to MLS fans and a pair of players each from Jamaica and El Salvador’s national teams.
On the surface, what separates Miami’s two biggest local teams is Inter Miami’s position in America’s top league, access to greater financial resources, and an ownership group that includes one of the most famous men to ever kick a ball. But at the heart of the Miami Clasico is something deeper – local pride.
Spiritually, if obviously not in terms of on-field skill, Miami FC are the Atletico Madrid to Inter Miami’s Real Madrid.
The lower division side has positioned itself as the “people’s club.” While Inter Miami evokes an exquisitely curated and expensive date night at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, with exotic meats from Salt Bae, Miami FC is a group of friends and family eating their hearts out at the locally iconic Chef Creole. Both are very much Miami, just very different versions.
So, why haven’t Inter Miami CF and Miami FC faced each other before? Because while they are both professional American clubs, they operate in different leagues. The U.S. Open Cup – a 108-year-old knockout tournament that features teams from all divisions of the U.S. Soccer pyramid – is the only time their paths can cross.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s clash, it has become clear that advancing in the USOC is more of a priority to the city’s little brother. Miami FC is not only hosting the game but has handled nearly all of the promotional push themselves. Inter Miami appear to view the Clasico as offering them little to gain, but a lot to lose at the hands of their less-opulent neighbors. IMCF head coach, in an interview with the Miami Herald, called tonight “[Miami FC’s] Cup final, our banana skin.”MORE NEWS: Miami-Dade Commissioners Propose Safety Measures After Tragedy On Rickenbacker Causeway
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, this Open Cup battle marks a truly historic moment in local – and American – soccer lore. One lucky group of fans in Miami-Dade (or Broward) will have the bragging rights of winning the first Miami Clasico that they can hold over their neighbors, hopefully for generations to come.