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PREVIEW: Athletic Take on Red Hot Miami FC

By Nico Machado, Hartford Athletic, 07/23/21, 9:30AM EDT

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HARTFORD ATHLETIC (6-3-2) vs MIAMI FC (7-5-2)

Date: Saturday, July 24th

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CT

Tickets: https://bit.ly/39WRqgp

Local TV: WCTX MyTV9

Streaming: ESPN+ or hartfordathletic.com/watch

International Viewers: YouTube

LAST TIME OUT:

It was a tough night for Athletic, as they conceded three goals for just the second time this season against Charleston Battery at Patriot’s Point on Saturday night. A late game push wasn't quite enough as the hosts were deserved winners with goals from Romario Piggott, Claudio Repetto, and Nicque Daley sealing the three points.

CRUNCH TIME:

Hartford is 1/3 of the way through the current season, and are currently sitting in 4th in the Eastern Atlantic Division on 20 points with matches in hand. The next 5 fixtures for Athletic include Miami FC twice, who currently sit third on 23 points, Pittsburgh who are on 24 points, and Colorado Springs, who despite sitting 5th in the Western division, boast the league’s top scorer in Hadji Barry, who recorded the fastest goal Hartford has ever conceded in their history, as well as a hat trick against Athletic in 2019. Garnering positive results from this stretch of games will be a fantastic indicator as to the progress and potential this team has going into the rest of the season.

MIDFIELD MAESTROS:

Hartford and Miami go into this game represented by a pair of veteran players who, despite their age, are at the peak of their powers. In 11 starts this season, Danny Barrera has 9 goal contributions for Athletic, while Ariel Martinez has 6 goal contributions in 9 starts for Miami FC. Barrera, aged 35, is the captain of Hartford, and leads from the midfield consistently, with a team-high 27 chances created this season. Martinez, aged 31, leads from the front as Miami’s top scorer. The result of Saturday’s match will depend heavily on the impact of these two seasoned professionals.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Hartford Athletic, Danny Barrera, MF #10

Following a tough 3-1 loss to Charleston, Hartford will be looking to Barrera for experience and leadership to re-focus and get a result at home. With 9 goal contributions in 11 starts this season,  the Hartford Captain is the engine of an attack that has scored just one goal in each of its last two matches. To get the offense back on track, it's Barrera who needs to right the ship.

Miami FC, Ariel Martinez, FW #10

If Miami want to get any result at Dillon, then they will need their 31-year-old forward, Ariel Martinez. With 2 goals and an assist in his last two games, he will be looking to continue his red-hot form on the road. Martinez has been deployed as a center midfielder, left midfielder attacking midfielder, and center forward. This versatility on the pitch will need to be watched by Athletic to stifle their attacked on Saturday. 

INJURY REPORT:

Hartford Athletic:

Out: Luka Prpa (foot); Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. (International Duty), Walmer Martinez (International Duty)

Questionable: Bradford Jamieson IV (Hamstring), Gabi Torres (Hamstring)

Miami FC:

Out: Speedy Williams (International Duty), Lamar Walker (International Duty)

ABOUT THE OPPONENT:

Miami FC arrive in Hartford currently on a five-match unbeaten run, in which time they have scored 11 goals while only conceding 5 goals. This run has included two key victories over Florida rivals, Tampa Bay Rowdies, as well as a resounding victory over Loudoun United in Virginia. Athletic will need to be wary of Miami’s dangerous number 10, Ariel Martinez, who has 2 goals and an assist in his last two games            

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

Follow along on Twitter @hfdathletic and #HFDvMIA    

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