Tropics welcome FC Miami City for another Sykes Field 'Saturday Night Showdown'

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla – The Lakeland Tropics will host the second of three straight opponents who played in this year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when FC Miami City pays a visit Saturday night to SYKES Field at Bryant Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

The Tropics themselves were invited to play in the 2018 Cup as well, and three of those four teams are in a heated battle once again this year for first place in the USL Premier Development League' southeast division.

Lakeland enters weekend play in a first-place tie with the SIMA Aguilas. Both teams are 5-1-2 with 17 points, while The Villages SC – who battled the Tropics to a 1-1 tie at Bryant Stadium last Saturday – sit in third at 4-1-2 with 14 points. Lakeland will host SIMA on Saturday, June 30.

Miami has not fared as well as the other three Cup participants, starting the year at 3-4-0, good for a fourth place tie with IMG Academy Bradenton. However, while the record isn't what they would like, they are clearly a dangerous side, scoring as many goals as they have given up (13). After dropping their first four, including a season-opening 3-2 loss at home to the Tropics, Miami has won three straight.

Kevin Coffic is Miami's marquee player, having joined the team for their last two games, scoring once. Coffic is ranked No. 49 on the PDL's Top 50 Prospects list.

The Tropics are just 1-1-1 in their last three, as the offense has only scored twice in that span after getting 12 goals in their first four games of the season. Juan Tejada is leading Lakeland with five goals, while Ricardo Diegues, with four goals, will be looking for his first score since May 30.

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