Inter Miami CF (14W-13L-6D, 48 points) clinched an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs berth, the team’s second in its three-year history, with a resounding 4-1 win over Orlando City SC at DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday night. The scoreline marked the largest margin of victory by Inter Miami this season. The team was led to the result in front of a raucous home crowd by Heineken Man of the Match Gonzalo Higuaín, who netted a brace to take his tally to 14 goals in his last 15 matches.
With a win against CF Montréal and a New York Red Bulls loss or draw on Sunday, Inter Miami can finish the regular season in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, which would be enough to host the first-ever playoff match at DRV PNK Stadium.
Inter Miami fielded a starting XI with two changes from its 0-1 win over Toronto FC last Friday. Drake Callender started in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Damion Lowe, Aimé Mabika and Chris McVey again composed the team’s back four; Jean Mota started at the base of a midfield diamond with Indiana Vassilev and Robert Taylor just in front of him, while Bryce Duke slotted in at the point of the diamond; Leonardo Campana and Gonzalo Higuaín once again formed the team’s strike partnership.
Yedlin wore the captain’s armband in the absence of captain Gregore, who missed the match due to yellow card accumulation. Taylor and Vassilev, meanwhile, returned to the starting XI while Alejandro Pozuelo missed the match due to injury.
Inter Miami instantly got off the mark when Campana fired the team ahead on record time. Taylor pressed the Orlando player in possession and deflected a pass the other way that Campana outraced the opposition center backs to, before chipping a perfectly weighted first-time effort over the keeper and into the back of the net from long distance. The goal was officially the fastest in team history at 35 seconds, beating a record that was established in 2020. It also marked Campana’s third goal in as many matches and his 11th of the season, while the assist was Taylor’s second in two matches and third of the season in MLS action.
The team then doubled its lead in the 38th minute. Vassilev played Ariel Lassiter, who came on for the injured Campana, in behind his defender down the right wing. The Costa Rican attacker then hit a perfect right-footed cross to Higuaín at the far post, who volleyed in a left-footed shot past the keeper. The assist was Lassiter’s fifth of the season in MLS, while the secondary assist brought Vassilev’s tally up to two in league play this year.
Inter Miami didn’t ease off the throttle in the second half. Just five minutes into the second period, Yedlin crossed to Lassiter on the box and his touch was deflected off the arm of an Orlando defender resulting in a penalty. Higuaín calmly took his penalty, sent the keeper the wrong way and scored to make it 3-0. The goal was Higuaín’s sixth in his last five matches, his 14th in his last 15 matches, and his 16th overall in MLS the season.
The team then netted a fourth just four minutes later. Lassiter drove forward from his own half and patiently measured up his shot from just outside of the box, slotting it low and past the keeper to make it 4-0. Duke’s assist on the play was his seventh of the year, making him the team’s leader in the category.
Orlando scored a goal of its own before the match ended, with Ercan Kara sliding a shot inside the far post from just inside the box to make it 4-1.
Inter Miami then made a pair of substitutions in the 77th minute, with Brek Shea and Emerson Rodríguez coming on for Higuaín and Taylor. The appearance marked Shea’s return from injury, who played his first match since the 3-2 home win over New York CIty FC on Aug. 13.
The result, however, held through the final whistle, clinching the team’s second playoff berth in its three-year history. The win also extended the team’s winning streak to four, and further strengthened its impressive home record, taking Inter Miami to 10 wins at DRV PNK Stadium this season.
Heineken Man of the Match
Higuaín was once again voted Heineken of the Match following his playoff-clinching brace on Wednesday night.
“I’m proud of them but this is just the start. We’ve got another big game Sunday and I’ve told them I want a home playoff. That’s the aim now. There’s another big challenge. In life you cannot stand still. You stand still, people overtake you. I’ve told them that if we get a home playoff that teams coming to DRV PNK more often than not lose,” said head coach Phil Neville.
Next Inter Miami will conclude its 2022 regular season with a Decision Day matchup against Eastern Conference two-seed CF Montréal at DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday. Oct. 9 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Socios.com Fan of the Match
Luis, a native of Honduras, was named the Socios.com Fan of the Match. Luis is a passionate member of La Familia who has supported the club since its inception.
Inter Miami CF hosted Hispanic Heritage Night presented by Espolòn Tequila tonight. The night offered fans several opportunities to celebrate their cultures during Hispanic Heritage Month amidst special activations at DRV PNK Stadium, including Hispanic Heritage patch giveaways, live music, specialty food and beverage options, and more. Fans were also encouraged to showcase their heritage by bringing their country’s flag to the match and waving it high and proud to show their support for the team.
MIA - 40%
ORL - 60%
MIA - 4
ORL - 1
MIA - 0
ORL - 0
MIA - 1
ORL - 8
MIA - 10
ORL - 12