MLS: Orlando City SC, Inter Miami match has playoff ramifications

Orlando City SC, who play host to cross-state rivals Inter Miami Saturday night, are looking to climb further up the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Inter Miami hope to jump into a playoff spot themselves.

Orlando City (7-7-4, 25 points) are 4-5-0 at home following a 5-3 loss at home to D.C. United Monday night. They surrendered three straight goals before fighting back with a three-goal second half. Head coach Oscar Pareja was happy with how his team bounced back in the second half.

“In the first half, we looked disconnected and I accept that responsibility,” Pareja said post-match. “Obviously I didn’t like those 45 minutes, but the boys did a great job putting in resolve at the end and trying to bounce back. The second half looked much better and like us, but the first half was the price today.”

Ercan Kara tallied Orlando City’s second goal of the game, his seventh of the season as the team’s leading scorer. If the Lions want to bounce back, Kara will need to continue scoring for the eighth-ranked scoring team in the East.

Mauricio Pereyra was subbed off late in the game with an apparent injury but he practiced Thursday, a good sign for returning to the lineup. Joao Moutinho (right lower leg) did not practice but is still listed as questionable.

Inter Miami (6-7-4, 22 points) are just 1-5-2 on the road this year, but they picked up a road point after drawing with FC Dallas 1-1 on Monday. It looked like their road woes would continue after surrendering a goal in the 27th minute, but second-half substitute Leonardo Campana scored the tying goal in the 88th minute.

“We’re really pleased with the point,” said head coach Phil Neville postgame. “We move on and we recover, and we go again on Saturday against Orlando, which I think is going to be an absolutely brilliant game.”

While the road result was important for Inter Miami’s playoff chances, perhaps the bigger boost to that effort came when they acquired 2020 league MVP Alejandro Pozuelo from Toronto FC. Pozuelo scored 26 goals and 31 assists in 88 MLS games for Toronto FC. He should be a big boost for an Inter Miami attack that ranks third-worst in the league with only 18 goals.

Ariel Lassiter, who was subbed off during the Dallas game due to injury, is unlikely to play Saturday. Emerson Rodriguez was the man who replaced Lassiter, so he might be in line for his first MLS start.

–Field Level Media

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