In a highly-competitive Southeast Division, the top four teams all posted strong records in a push for the title.
Though they'd be pressed by the competition, SIMA Aguilas would ultimately emerge atop the rest as they claimed the Southeast Division crown in 2017. They were followed closely by playoff-bound FC Miami City.
Here's a closer look at the Southeast Division's Season in Review.
Photo by FC Miami City
Record: 10-1-3, +29 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 2nd
Playoffs: Lost in Southern Conference Finals
MVP: Mohamed Kourouma - 11 goals, 3 assists
Though FC Miami City finished just behind SIMA Aguilas in the regular season, the team was the best to emerge from the Southeast Division in terms of the playoffs. After defeating the OKC Energy U23 with a 1-0 shutout in the Southern Conference Semifinals, the team fell to the Mississippi Brilla FC in the Finals to end a very successful season. In the regular season, the team suffered just one loss to SIMA Aguilas back in May, which was followed by a six-match winning streak and 10-match unbeaten run. At one point, FC Miami City did not surrender a goal in five straight matches, contributing to their division-best 12 goals allowed all season. The team weren’t slouches on offense either, failing to score just once in a scoreless draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 in the final match of the regular season, leading them to a second-best 41 goals scored and all adding up to a division-leading +29 goal differential. Leading the way was Mohamed Kourouma, with a huge 11 goals and three assists. Also tallying four-plus goals were Kevin Coiffic, Mouhoub Merabet, Hazma Mourchid, and Naim Hamdi. In goal, Mehdi Taieb and Eric Edge were stellar in their split time, allowing a meager 0.86 GAA all season while accounting for 50 combined saves.
Photo by IMG Academy Bradenton
Record: 5-6-3, -4 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 5th
MVP: Danny Avila - 5 goals, 3 assists
Though IMG Academy Bradenton did not make the playoffs in 2017, the team still managed a respectable 5-6-3 record and proved a tough opponent for their divisional foes. Though the Lakeland Tropics and SIMA Aguilas got the better of IMG, the team did manage to pull a point off of FC Miami City in a draw, and managed to secure wins against The Villages SC, Rowdies U23, South Florida Surf, and Weston FC around them. The victories were spread out, with the team not winning two consecutive matches all year, and a fatal run of four losses in five matches midway through the season left the team in fifth place by the end of the campaign. The team closed out the season on a positive 2-1-1 run, but it wasn’t enough to boost them into the upper-half as they straddled the midway line. The metrics followed, with the team’s 20 goals scored and 24 allowed both middle-of-the-pack in the Southeast. The team’s goal leader was David Avila, whose five led the pack in addition to his team-leading three assists. The defensive effort in goal was a three-headed beast in the form of Jake Agnew, Evan Finney, and Stephen Banick, who compiled a respectable 1.71 GAA and racked-up 66 saves.
Photo by Lakeland Tropics
Record: 9-3-2, +7 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 3rd
MVP: Ricardo Diegues - 10 goals, 2 assists
The 2017 season was an incredibly strong one for the Lakeland Tropics, who were simply unfortunately to have two other powerhouse teams in their division. In any given year, a 9-3-2 record would be playoff-bound to the Southern Conference Semifinals, but with SIMA Aguilas and FC Miami City just narrowly edging them out, the Tropics were forced to watch from home in third place. The difference-maker? All three of the team’s losses came to FC Miami City twice and SIMA Aguilas once. A different result or two, and the Tropics are in the playoffs. The team handled their business against the remainder of the division, including a six-match winning streak in the early season, and another three-match winning streak later that included a win over SIMA. The team’s clear attacking leader came in the form of Rodrigo Diegues, who’s 10 goals and two assists by far led the team in production. The only player to best him in assists was Victor Parreiras, who recorded five while scoring three goals himself. Victor Rojas and Juan David Tejada Londono also scored six and five goals respectively. In goal, Jonathan Valerio and Jorge Navarrete combined for a very good 1.43 GAA on the season, keeping the Tropics close in plenty of tight contests.
Photo by Palm Beach Suns FC
Record: 2-12-0, -32 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 9th
MVP: Rielee Mohsin - 3 goals, 2 assists
Aside from a short stretch at the end of June, the season was tough for the Palm Beach Suns FC. After opening the year on a six-match losing streak, the Suns won two out of three in the final week of June and first day of July. In that span, the team earned a 3-2 win over IMG Academy Bradenton and a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23. It would be all they’d get, however, as the Suns closed the season with a five-match losing run to end the year at the bottom of the division. The major struggle came defensively, as the team allowed fewer than two goals only once in the year, and that was a 1-0 loss to Weston FC. The offense didn’t lag far behind, however, as the found themselves shut-out in over half their matches. Leading the way for the Suns was Rielee Mohsin, who recorded three goals and two assists this year. Luke Ferreira and Yanich Koffi also contributed three goals apiece to the team this season. In goal, Nathaniel Himes and Kyle Baskett struggled, conceding a 2.5 GAA in the team’s 14 matches.
Photo by SIMA Aguilas
Record: 11-2-1, +21 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 1st
Playoffs: Lost in Southern Conference Semifinals
MVP: Malick Sarr Mbaye - 3 goals, 1 assist
With an 11-2-1 record and a Southeast Division title to show for it, the season was ultimately a successful one for SIMA Aguilas. It started on the right foot and kept on moving in that direction, as the team opened the year with nine straight unbeaten, including five- and three-match win streaks through May and June. Ultimately, SIMA would slow down in July, posting a still-impressive 3-2-0 record, but their lead over FC Miami City would prove insurmountable as they’d remain in first place from start to finish in 2017. The determining match of the season was a 2-1 win over FC Miami City in early May that proved the difference with just a point between the teams at the end of the year. Leading the way in the offensive category were a quadruplet of productive players in Bruno Felipe Serbena Lapa, Santiago Patino, Malick Sarr Mbaye, and Biska Biyombo, all of whom scored three or more goals this season. Also of note was Rafael Santos, who led the team in assists. In goal, Federico Barrios Rubio and Daniel Gagliardi were equally as strong, posting an impressive 0.93 GAA.
Photo by South Florida Surf
Record: 3-8-3, -8 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 7th
MVP: Ethan Decker- 4 goals, 1 assist
Though the wins didn’t come as the South Florida Surf would’ve hoped, the team was certainly competitive in the 2017 regular season, as they battled to a 3-8-3 record and seventh-place finish. The record belies how difficult the Surf were for their opposition, were only shut-out twice all season, once by division-winners SIMA Aguilas, and never lost by more than two goals. The team’s goals, goals allowed, and goal differential were all better than their position would indicate, leaving plenty of good positives to take from the season overall. Leading the way in terms of goal-scoring was the duo of James Filerman with five goals and Ethan Decker with four goals and one assist. Also notable was assist-leader Jeffrey Michaud and runner-up Andrew Booth. In goal, Andres Ruiz saw most of the time, with spot-starts from Fernando Cortes and Tomas Espinal, who combined ended up with a decent 1.93 GAA.
Photo by Tampa Bay Rowdies U23
Record: 3-8-3, -11 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 6th
MVP: Kevin Varela Mendoza - 8 goals, 3 assists
Much like the South Florida Surf, the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23’s record belies how difficult an opponent the team was in 2017. Similar to the Surf, the team kept games very close, losing by more than two just once and only being shutout once, a scoreless draw against FC Miami City. The team opened the year fairly strong, with three wins in its first six matches, but struggled through the final eight games of the year. The team went winless from June 22nd until the end of the year, managing three draws in eight matches over that span, and ultimately wound up in sixth place this season. Still, positives were there to be taken, including a phenomenal year from Kevin Varela Mendoza, who led the team in both goals and assists with eight and three respectively. Kendan Anderson and Gabriel Pfeffer also contributed three goals each, while Mckinley Curran scored two and assisted two more. In goal, Sean Caulfield posted a strong 1.81 GAA, but Christopher Morrish and Christian Knight struggled behind him, with GAAs of 3+ each.
Photo by The Villages SC
Record: 8-4-2, +25 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 4th
MVP: Willian Hopfner - 10 goals, 3 assists
In a highly-competitive Southeast Division, The Villages SC posted an impressive 8-4-2 record, but couldn’t catch up to SIMA Aguilas, FC Miami City, and the Lakeland Tropics, whose strong seasons left The Villages in fourth place. The team actually started out slowly, dropping their first three matches before finding their form and only losing one in their last 11 matches. The team won five of their six June matches before going unbeaten in July to close out the season on an 8-1-2 run. The team even handed SIMA Aguilas one of their two losses on the year in the final match, a 2-1 win for The Villages. The offensive production was well-spread for The Villages, but Willian Hopfner stood out, knocking in 10 goals and three assists. Alcides Thomas, Carlos Araujo, and Matthieu Le Roux also contributed over six goals each, as they helped lead the team to a division-high 46 goals. Defensively, the team was strong as well, with Igor Luczensky and Timothy McGlynn allowing a very strong 1.86 GAA.
Photo by Weston FC
Record: 3-10-1, -27 GD
Southeast Division Finish: 8th
MVP: Zachariah Jones - 3 goals
Though Weston FC ultimately wound up in eighth place at the end of the season, they didn’t finish the year in that level of form. After struggling through the opening 10 matches of the season with a 0-9-1 record, the team bounced-back in a huge way in their final four matches, winning three of their last four to end the season on a very high note. Unfortunately, their early season struggles rendered that late-season surge meaningless, as the team was unable to catch up to the Rowdies U23 and South Florida Surf just head of them. The biggest issue came offensively, as the team went goalless for five straight losses mid-season, being outscored 22-0 over that span. Still, those three wins were welcome results as the team was able to give their home fans a few good memories in 2017. Offensively, Zachariah Jones, Luis Betancur, Inigo Sagarduy, and Nicolas Perea contributed all of the team’s goals this year, with Jones leading the way with three. In goal, the team struggled, with Joseph Ghitis, Ryan Tome, and Evandro Rachoni accounting for a 2.71 GAA.