Open Cup: Alessandro Nesta hails Miami FC triumph

The NASL spring leader Miami FC earned a 3-1 win at Orlando City in what Italian head coach Alessandro Nesta termed "the most important match in our short history." Forward Stefano Pinho scored the club's first-ever hat trick to move Miami FC into the round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup.

“I am very proud of my players," added Nesta. "They were ready to fight for every second and they played a very good match.”

Pinho was at the far post to put away Michael Lahoud's low cross in the 30th minute. Six minutes later, Pinho headed home defender Hunter Freeman's cross to make it 2-0.

The 26-year-old Brazilian, who spent the last two NASL seasons with Fort Lauderdale and Minnesota United, completed his hat trick when he was again open at the far post to put away Robert Baggio Kcira's cross in the 55th minute.

Orlando City brought on Kaka -- who had played six seasons with Nesta at AC Milan -- in the 64th minute and got a goal back when Giles Barnes scored in the 79th minute, but it was a dominating performance from Miami FC, which finished with a 17-9 edge in shots.

NASL in Round of 16 (2013-17):
2013: Carolina RailHawks
2013: Tampa Bay Rowdies
2014: Atlanta Silverbacks
2014: Carolina RailHawks
2014: New York Cosmos
2015: New York Cosmos
2016: Fort Lauderdale Strikers
2016: New York Cosmos
2017: Miami FC

Miami FC was the only one of three NASL teams to win in the fourth round. North Carolina FC fell to the Houston Dynamo, 3-2, in overtime, and the first-year San Francisco Deltas lost at the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, on a pair of goals scored in the first six minutes.
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