By Adam H. Beasley
Miami - Midway through the 2009 season, a strange pattern has emerged for Miami FC: The less the Blues' stars play, the better the team fares.
Sunday night was no different.
Even with striker Diego Serna sidelined for most of the match with a knee injury, Miami FC was crisp offensively, scoring twice in the first half to cruise past the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 at a nearly empty FIU Stadium.
The team has also played for some time without defender Facundo Erpen and midfielder Richard Perdomo, both of whom will likely be transferred to teams out of the country this week.
Strangely, with all those key pieces missing, the Blues haven't played better all year.
They've gone 4-1-1 in their last six matches to vault from ninth place to sixth, and have put the team in strong position to earn a postseason berth.
"A team is not just 11 players on the field," said midfielder Leo Inacio Nunes, who had a goal and an assist.
"It's the 22 that practice and are ready to play at any time."
The Blues grabbed the match by the throat right away, forging ahead 1-0 in the 5th minute on a goal by forward Alan Marcina. Nunes was the catalyst. He corralled a pass inside the 18 and directed it wide to Marcina, who blasted a shot past Vancouver (5-6-3) keeper Jay Nolly.
Miami FC (6-6-2) extended the advantage to 2-0 18 minutes later on a successful penalty kick by Nunes.
The announced attendance of 405, Miami FC's smallest crowd of the season, was a stark contrast to 17,000 that filled FIU Stadium for CONCACAF Gold Cup matches two days earlier.