“Our team has to fight. Whether you’re up or you’re down, you fight until the last minute and the last second…The team has to be a reflection, in that aspect, of its ownership. This team needs to fight and battle 90-plus minutes every game.”
That was the directive from Inter Miami CEO and Managing Owner Jorge Mas prior to the start of the 2022 season. Now, nearly eight months later, the team is preparing for its second-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match.
But how did Inter Miami get here? The stats suggest it had a lot to do with the team’s fighting spirit.
Points Won From Losing Positions
One of this team’s notable traits throughout the campaign was its penchant for picking up points when it looked like an unlikely outcome in a match. In fact, the team finished tied for second in MLS in points won from losing positions during the 2022 regular season, earning 21 points in such circumstances.
The point total was impressive in itself, but perhaps more impressive was the consistency of the team’s effort in those challenging moments. Notably, 44% of the team’s total points was earned from losing positions.
This was especially evident at home this season. Inter Miami picked up 16 points from losing positions at DRV PNK Stadium in 2022, tied for first most at home across the league.
Points Dropped From Winning Positions
The inverse also proved true for Inter Miami this season, as the team fought to maintain the leads it earned in 2022. Impressively, through the entire regular season Inter Miami dropped just seven points from winning positions, second best in the league behind only Supporters’ Shield champions LAFC.
Late Goals: Miami Time
Statistically, the team lived up to Mas’ directive to battle 90-plus minutes each match, earning the Miami Time moniker. Inter Miami made a habit of scoring goals in the late stages of matches, finishing the regular season with 10 matches where the team either won or drew due to a late goal (scored in the 79th minute or later).
Gonzalo Higuaín chipped in with three of those goals himself. More impressively, the Argentine did it in three consecutive matches in the final stages of the season to help secure the team’s playoff berth. On Sept. 13, Higuaín scored an 82nd minute winner against Columbus Crew. On Sept. 18, he scored a dramatic 94th minute winner against D.C. United. On Sept. 30, he capped the run, scoring an 86th minute winner against Toronto FC.
Leonardo Campana and Emerson Rodríguez were also responsible for two of the goals each. Campana scored the third goal of the Club’s first-ever hat trick in the 88th minute to earn a 3-2 win over New England Revolution on April 9, and scored an 88th minute equalizer against FC Dallas on July 4. Rodríguez netted his in the 93rd minute of a 3-2 win over Charlotte FC on July 16, and the 79th minute of a road draw with CF Montréal on Aug. 6.
Alejandro Pozuelo, Chris McVey and Indiana Vassilev each scored one winner in the late stages of matches. Pozuelo scored in the 84th minute of a 3-2 win over our Round One Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs opponent NYCFC on Aug. 13, while McVey scored his deep into stoppage time, striking in the 97th minute to equalize in a 4-4 thriller with FC Cincinnati on July 30. Vassilev, meanwhile, made history with his, coming on in the 83th minute against Minnesota United on June 25, scoring an equalizer in the 87th minute, and a winner in the 90th minute; with the goals he became the first player in MLS history to score both a game-tying and game-winning goal after entering the game in the 80th minute or later.
Inter Miami also made good on another emphasis of the Club, shining at home in 2022 and making DRV PNK Stadium a fortress with the help of its passionate fans, the heartbeat of the Club. The team compiled a record of 10W-4L-3D at home this season for a total of 33 points, good for a tie for third most home wins in the league and a tie for sixth most home points.
Higuaín’s Closing Form
Nobody embodied the team’s fighting spirit more than legendary striker Gonzalo Higuaín in 2022. The Argentine started the season slow by his standards, suffering injuries that kept him out of the starting XI for 15 consecutive MLS games (from April 9 until July 16).
Higuaín refused to be discouraged, persevering to close the season - the final one of his illustrious career - in scintillating form. He registered 14 goals and two assists in the last 16 regular season fixtures (from July 13 to Oct. 9) to guide Inter Miami to an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs berth, including netting the second hat trick in Club history in the 4-4 draw at DRV PNK Stadium against FC Cincinnati on July 30. He finished the season with a league-high in goals per 90 minutes at 0.823.
Higuaín’s efforts saw him rewarded with a nod as one of three finalists for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, as well as a team-leading five MLS Team of the Week designations (including three in a row), one MLS Player of the Week nod, an MLS Goal of the Week win, and a nomination for AT&T 5G 2022 MLS Goal of the Year.