MLS: Inter Miami, Orlando City enter showdown with playoffs in reach
Inter Miami CF will attempt to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot when they host Orlando City SC on Wednesday night at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Inter Miami CF (13-13-6, 45 points) would wrap up one of the seven berths in the East if they knock off the Lions.
Orlando City (13-13-6, 45 points) also has the opportunity to clinch a spot on Wednesday. The Lions would need to beat Miami and have the Columbus Crew lose to Charlotte FC.
Columbus also has 45 points but has just 10 wins, giving Miami and Orlando the edge in any tiebreaker situations. The three teams are tied for the sixth-most points in the East.
Miami’s push for the postseason is being led by 34-year-old striker Gonzalo Higuain, who announced Monday that he will retire after the season.
Higuain has scored four goals during Miami’s three-game winning streak and has six over the last six matches. Overall, he has a team-best 14 goals in 26 matches (18 starts).
“We’ve got a world-class player in Gonzalo and he’s delivering everything and more for the team that worships him, the team that thinks he’s God, the team that thinks he’s the king,” Miami coach Phil Neville said.
Higuain was the hero of Friday’s 1-0 road victory over Toronto FC when he scored in the 86th minute.
“I’m very emotional because this team doesn’t give up, it fights to the end, and I’m very, very proud to be part of this team,” Higuain said afterward. “… It was very important for us to get this win and this goal because it’s a big one as we push to the playoffs.”
Orlando City has dropped three of their past four matches, including a 2-1 road loss to New York City FC on Sunday.
Facundo Torres scored his eighth goal. He’s second on the squad behind Ercan Kara (10).
“A very tight game for both teams who understand the situation and implications of the result,” Orlando coach Oscar Pareja said afterward. “I thought it was a very good (match). We all are working and trying to get the results.”
Orlando City beat visiting Miami 1-0 on July 9 when an own goal by Herons defender Damion Lowe in the second minute of second-half stoppage time allowed the Lions to prevail.
–Field Level Media