Saturday, April 30, 2022

Soccer In South Florida

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a difference a week makes.

Last weekend, I made my first trip to DRV-PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, the previous sight of the now demolished Lockhart Stadium, to see the Miami Hurricanes in their Spring Game.

If you look close enough on the field, you can still see the football field. But you have to look very deep to see the gridiron. As I continued to look at the field, I gained a greater appreciation of how good these athletes are. Compared to a football field, the soccer field is so much wider.

But when I think of soccer in Fort Lauderdale, it’s impossible to for me to not reflect on my past history covering the Strikers back in 1982-83. I met my best friend Chip Namias who was the Strikers Director of Public Relations.

Jan Van Beveran was the Strikers goaltender. Other players on the Strikers include Teofilo Cubillas, Ray Hudson, Branko Segota, Robert Meschbach, Brian Kidd, Ken Fogerty and Keith Weller were some of the key players. The team was coached by Eckhard Krautzon and was 18-14. This team made the playoffs.

The attendance that season was 197,525 and the team averaged 12,345 in 16 home dates.

The 1983 Season saw a coaching change with David Chadwick taking over. The team regressed to a 14-16 record and attendance slipped to 162,430, averaged 10,829 per game in 15 dates. 

There were a lot of the same players and others worth mentioning include Gordon Dallas, Bob Bolitho, Steve Wegerle, Ricardo Villa, Thomas Rongen and Bruce Miller.

Hudson transitioned to coaching by managing the Miami Fusion, a former MLS team that played in the league from 1998-2001. Rongen has also had many coaching stops after his post Strikers career.

That was then and now into the present.

In March 2020, Hudson was named a color commentator of Inter-Miami. He’s the lead color commentator for the club. Rongen is a radio commentator for the club.

As I did my pre-game preparation for this game, I decided to start by comparing the Social Media for both Broward County Teams, Inter-Miami and the Florida Panthers.

What I saw was tremendously surprising.

I looked at both teams Twitter and Instagram Accounts.

On Twitter, Inter-Miami was following 227 and had 168,000 followers. On Instagram, Inter-Miami was following 119 and had 1,000,000 followers for a total of 1,168,200.

As for the Panthers there Twitter numbers are as follows: they’re following 1,222 and have 416,000 followers. On Instagram, they’re following 72 and have 305,000 followers for a combined total of 721,000.

Inter-Miami, which was founded on 1-28-2018 and played it’s first MLS Game on March 1,2020 has 447,100 more followers than the Panthers, which were founded in 1993. 

What do all these numbers prove? 

The most important thing is that soccer definitely is considered one of the most popular sports in the world. 

That’s evidenced by this comparison.

The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, as the team has been dominant all-season long finishing with a 58-18-6 record and 122 points. Florida won its first President’s Cup Trophy by having the best record during the regular season. 

The Panthers quest for it’s first Stanley Cup Championship is a first round meeting with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at 7:30 PM in Sunrise, FL.

Normally when I see Miami face Atlanta, it’s the Braves vs the Marlins. 

Ironically, the Marlins played the Braves this weekend.

Today, Inter-Miami hosted Atlanta United. 

During their series history, Atlanta United and Inter Miami have played each other remarkably even. The all-time record is split, both sides winning twice and playing to a draw three times. All seven meetings have been either draws or decided by one goal. And in those seen meetings, both teams have scored and conceded seven times.

Going into this matchup, the two clubs are on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference table. Atlanta United is 3-2-2 going into the match with 11 points. Meanwhile, Inter-Miami is 2-4-1 with seven points.

Miami is in the middle of a hot streak. After losing four in a row earlier this season, Inter-Miami picked up six points in back-to-back wins over Seattle and New England. They added a win over Miami FC in the U.S. Open Cup, giving Miami three wins over the last two weeks.

This game was televised on National Television on ESPN and didn’t disappoint as Inter-Miami overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Atlanta 2-1 in front of 13,433 fans.

This turned out to be another one goal contest as these teams continue to play close matches.

Leonardo Campana and Bryce Duke scored the goals for the home team as it improved its record to 3-4-1. Atlanta dropped to 3-3-2.

Heineken Man of the Match Campana now has five goals and two assists in the last four games, while Duke scored his first goal in MLS and for Inter-Miami.

After the match, as you’re going to see in the video inserted into this story, I asked Coach Phil Neville how important was it for his squad to win on National TV to gain the respect of the league.

Going into the match, Neville has patiently navigated through the team’s early existence. 

Not counting this game, in 42 contests, Neville’s team has 15 wins, six draws and 21 losses. 

Yet, during this process, he has a lot of respect from his players, who continually battle through the growing pains to reach contending status.

Inter-Miami took it’s four-game winning streak to New England and faced the Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. In the first matchup in April, Inter-Miami defeated New England 3-2.

In this contest, New England ended Inter-Miami’s four-game winning streak with a 2-0 triumph. The loss dropped Inter-Miami to 3-5-1 and the squad is 12th in the Eastern Conference.

Inter-Miami will continue their East Coast swing by traveling to North Carolina and face Charlotte at Bank of America on Saturday, May 7th at 3:30 ET.

A prime-time home match awaits Inter-Miami on Saturday, May 14 as D.C. United comes to town. 

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see where the team stands at that point. 

But the rest of the nation saw a squad that was poised to send to the rest of the nation that there are better days ahead.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can also see his broadcasts by Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel at no cost.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Hurricanes Return To Broward County

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

One of My All-Time movies was Back to the Future. 

On Saturday, April 16 at DRV-PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, I made a return to the site that was once Lockhart Stadium to cover a Miami Hurricanes Spring Football Game.

When I covered the Miami Hurricanes from 1982-83, the head coach was Howard Schnellenberger and the Sports Information Director was Ron Steiner.

Ron was one of the best Public Relations professionals that I’ve ever dealt with!

I would later work with Coach Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic University as he built this program from scratch. We had a father-son relationship.

In my return to the new venue located West of I-95, off Commercial Blvd and Powerline Rd, this day seemed like old times but the individuals were different.

The Hurricanes Head Coach is Mario Cristobal, who was hired this off-season from the University of Oregon. 

Cristobal previously coached at Florida International University and his star wide receiver was TY Hilton.

My PR contact is Camron Ghorbi and I’m looking forward to working with him this season!

When you cover a Spring Football Game, what do you get out of them?

1. It’s a first class guessing game as to who will play in the fall.

2. There will be a lot of game film between now and August.

3. In the case of this year’s Hurricanes, it’s a chance to see the new coaching staff in action. One of the biggest hires of this off-season is the addition of former University of Michigan Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis, who is in charge of leading the Canes offense.

4. For myself, this was the first time that I’ve been at DRV-PNK Stadium and being here brought back many memories of covering the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League, and later the FAU Owls at Lockhart Stadium.

5. One of the writers came up with an interesting line called “A Very Impressive Zero.”

6. It’s always interesting to see the QB Battles and in this case, Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia were taking the snaps under center.

In this Spring Game, there were 13 series for a total of 120 plays, averaging 4.4 yards per play. Five QB’s saw action.

Van Dyke finished 20 of 33 for 175 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on two carries. He guided the Hurricanes to three touchdown drives in his five series.

Garcia was 14 of 24 for 117 yards.

Running back Henry Parrish scored two of the Hurricanes four touchdowns on the day and showed very good burst carrying the ball and catching as his 21-yard run off the right tackle was the longest run of the day and his 16-yard reception was the seventh longest. Parrish finished 38 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 32 yards.

Wide receiver Xavier Restrepo led all players in receptions with six and receiving yards with 60.

Cornerback Te Cory Couch had a nice pass breakup on a pass by Garcia over the middle of the field and came up with a tackle for a loss on a reverse by Brashard Smith to highlight his solid day. After the Spring Game, Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele said he was “pleasantly surprised “ by Couch’s performance.

Defensive end Cyrus Moss came up with a strong performance by recording a team-high three sacks and one resulted in a forced fumble.

The offense defeated the defense 31-27. 

During the beginning of the game, I had the opportunity to talk about the Hurricanes Program in Oakland, CA, click on the link to listen to the show. 

I spoke with Mark Mancini and Bruce Kessinger and the main topics discussed were some of the previous Hurricanes Coaches, namely, Randy Shannon, Manny Diaz and Mark Richt.

We talked about the addition of Cristobal and I told these guys that he left a cushy job in Oregon to return to his hometown. 

I addressed his accomplishments at FIU. You’ll enjoy this live broadcast that also talks about My return to Fort Lauderdale covering this game.

After the game, Cristobal addressed the Media and you can watch that video in this story as well.

So now, it’s time to let the evaluation of the current players begin and the incoming freshman will be here late in the summer.

Cristobal inherits a 7-5 team and former Coach Manny Diaz has moved on to Penn State University as he has a dual role as the Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach.

Cristobal has worked under Butch Davis, Greg Schiano, Larry Coker and Nick Saban.

His overall college record is 62-60. He’s 3-3 in Bowl Games.

He guided FIU to a pair of Bowl Games and defeated Toledo 34-32 in 2010 at the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit. 

In three seasons at Oregon from 2017-2021, he was 35-13 (.729) and 23-9 (.719) in the PAC 12. 

But once again, it was great being back in Fort Lauderdale covering the first college football team as a sports writer and am hoping to build on this in 2022. 

Back to the Past turned into Back to the Future. 

The estimated crowd was about 8,000 for an 18,000 seat stadium. This was not bad in the Hurricanes Return To Broward County.

The game was supposed to be scheduled at Hard Rock Stadium but was switched to Fort Lauderdale on short notice because there was construction taking place building a race track for a Formula One Race.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his broadcasts or you can find all of his shows on our website under the WSFT Drop Down Box. 



Easter At loanDepot park

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What were you doing for Easter?

This is one of the most interesting holidays since it floats every year so I never know what my agenda turns out to be.

I’ve had some interesting Easter Sports Adventures through the years.

I covered a Florida Panthers Hockey Game at the Fla Live Arena. 

When Easter occurred during Spring Training, I saw the Boston Red Sox host the Philadelphia Phillies at Jet Blue Park which is known as Fenway South. This was the last season for legendary for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who was selected into this year’s Hall of Fame Class.

Since my family is dwindling and others are out of state, the timing worked out well to see another baseball game and this one is at loanDepot park in Miami.

Who were the Miami Marlins hosting? 

You guessed it. The Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies (4-5) lineup is stacked. The Marlins (3-5) sent Elieser Hernandez to the hill and he faced the likes of J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius.

Phillies Manager Joe Girardi and Marlins Skipper had a chance to play Chess with one another.

Going into this game, when you look at the Marlins in 2022, the Fish opened the season on the West Coast by facing the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Angels. During this five-game stretch, the Marlins finished with a 1-4 record, and four of the contests were decided by one run.

When the Fish returned to South Florida, they faced the free-spending Phillies and went 3-1 during their opening weekend.

When the Phillies leave town, their Spring Training Neighbors come to town, The St. Louis Cardinals. 

To date, the Giants, Angels and Cardinals all have winning records.

The schedule makers didn’t do the Marlins any favors but this stretch has provided Mattingly with a good gauge about hits ball club.

During the pre-game Media Availability with the manager, I had the opportunity to ask the team’s pilot that the schedule makers didn’t do the team any favors, the addition of Hitting Coach Marcus Thames and whether there are too many division games.

My colleagues also asked some interesting questions as well and we hope you enjoy the context of the video which is on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would Subscribe to the South Florida You Tube Channel. You can do so by watching  the show and hit the Subscribe Button.

The Marlins clubbed the Phillies 11-3 as Elieser Hernandez pitched six strong innings, yielding five hits and gave up just one run while throwing 91 pitches. The run Hernandez allowed was a solo blast from NL MVP Bryce Harper.

Jazz Chisholm Jr tripled, doubled and drove in three runs and the Marlins roughed up Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler who saw his record drop to 0-2. Wheeler, the 2021 NL Cy Young Award runner-up allowed seven runs and eight hits, struck out three, walked three and a hit batter.

Jesus Sanchez had three hits and two RBIs while Brian Anderson reached base four times on two walks, a single and hit by a pitch. Sanchez went 7 for 15 in the series with two triples, two doubles and five RBI.

The Marlins took control of the game with a four-run second inning as this frame was highlighted by run scoring triples from Chisholm and Miguel Rojas. Bryan De La Cruz and Sanchez hit RBI singles that scored Chisholm and Rojas.

For the contest, Marlins hitters pounded 13 hits and 12 men were left on base. The attendance for Easter Sunday was 11,476 in a contest that took 3:32 to complete. The Phillies left town with a 4-6 record.

A good first opening weekend for Miami (4-5) as St. Louis concludes the seven-game home stand that ends on Thursday. 

The World Champions Atlanta Braves await Miami in Georgia during the weekend.

As I said, the schedule makers didn’t do the Marlins any favors, but in the eyes of Mattingly, he doesn’t worry about the schedule, just getting his team ready to play these games one at a time. There is no doubt that you’re going to enjoy the video in this story.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth. 

Once again, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his shows which include 108 Stitches, Baseball Talk, Inside the Pigskin, Sports Exchange, South Florida Tribune Podcast and much more. 

All of the shows are listed on WSFT Broadcasts, Drop Down Box. 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Post April Fools Hangover

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

April Fools Day was on Friday, April 1, 2022.

But you could have fooled me as I thought it was on Saturday, April 2.

The day began with the South Florida Tribune Podcast that was being streamed live on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, via Stream Yard. I was doing a show with co-host Gary Kornbluh and the show was progressing quite nicely.

But all of a sudden, I went off the air because apparently a motor vehicle in my area hit a pole and Internet and Cable Service was disconnected. The problem would last until 10 PM.

Of all days for this to happen, it made it difficult for us to watch the NCAA Final Four from New Orleans. We did manage to see the final 10 minutes of the Duke vs North Carolina contest. North Carolina defeated Duke 81-77 ending the storied career of Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

We did reschedule the South Florida Tribune Podcast for Thursday, April 7 at 7 PM.

The only thing that went as planned was My Radio Appearance with Bruce Kessenger and Mark Mancini on Saturday Sports Talk out of Oakland, CA. I phoned in and appeared on the show from 11:45-12:30 PM.

The final obligation of the day was the Miami Marlins hosting the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium at 6:40 PM.

My photographer and I arrived at the stadium at 3:15 pm and took care of all the pre-game work.

But Mother Nature was in a bad mood and the scheduled game was rained out. 

The bright side was we wouldn’t have to worry about driving home late at night especially in bad weather. 

On the other hand, there was the Final Four Dilemma with the desire to go to a Sports Bar and watch the conclusion of one game (Villanova vs Kansas) and the Duke vs North Carolina contest.

Once we got into the Sports Bar, I started having headaches due to my concussion issues. We left and went back home. Because of my concussions, I still have a huge problem when it comes to excessive noise. The decision was made for us. 

We could only hope there would be a chance to see part of the game. That proved to be the case otherwise, I was so tired, it didn’t matter. Getting some sleep isn’t the worst option.

But I have to admit that I was glad the Post April Fools Day was over and I’m glad this day ended. 

I realize some days are better than others, but on a day like this, it couldn’t end soon enough!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can see his broadcasts by Subscribing for free on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Spring Training Focus, Sandy Alcantara

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The Miami Marlins announced prior to their Spring Training game vs the Washington Nationals that Sandy Alcantara will be the Opening Day Starter for the third consecutive season.

In 2021, Alcantara posted a 9-15 record with a 3.19 ERA in 33 games, 33 games started with a 205.2 innings pitched, 201 strikeouts, 50 walks and one complete game.

When you talk about velocity, the 2019 All-Star throws 93-98 MPH and maxes out around 100 MPH. He uses both a four-seam fastball and a sinker. His secondary pitches are a change-up (89 MPH) slider (86 MPH) and curveball (82 MPH).

The 6-5, 200 pound right-handed hurler got some job security during the off-season as the Marlins signed Alcantara to a contract extension worth $56 Million. His contract broke the record for a pitcher under team control with less than four years service time set by Carlos Martinez.

The 2022 season will experience a lot of changes. 

But two changes that effect pitchers the most include Spring Training which was shortened to three weeks and the implementation of the Universal Designated Hitter. 

During the Marlins pregame availability, I had the opportunity to ask Alcantara about both of these developments.

The Marlins Game vs the Nationals was rained out.

The Marlins final Spring Training Game is against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, April 5 at 11:05 AM.

They’ll head out West for Opening Day as they face the San Francisco Giants on Friday, April 8 at 4:35 PM.

They’ll face the Giants for three games then travel to Anaheim and face the LA Angels for a pair of inter league games on Monday April 11 and Tuesday April 12.

The Philadelphia Phillies and Bryce Harper visit Loan Depot Park for Opening Day on Thursday, April 14 and conclude the four-game series on Sunday, April 17.

Former Marlin Lewis Brinson was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros Saturday. In parts of five seasons in the majors, Brinson has a .199 average.

Scott Morganroth can be at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can watch his broadcasts by Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel at no charge.


Marlins Limped Into All-Star Break

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH Lets make no bones about it, this years All-Star Break has a much different felling than last years. Former GM Kim Ng di...