Inter Miami CF closed its 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) season with a 3-0 Round One Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs loss on the road to resining champions New York City FC. The match brought to a close a successful season that saw Inter Miami reach the postseason for the second time in its brief three-year history, host a fully packed house at DRV PNK Stadium for the first time, and finish with the most points and highest seed in a single season in Club history. The match also closed legendary forward Gonzalo Higuaín’s illustrious 17-and-a-half-year career.
Inter Miami opened its 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs with one change to the starting XI from its Decision Day match a week ago. Drake Callender started in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Damion Lowe, Aimé Mabika and Chris McVey started in defense; Jean Mota, captain Gregore and Alejandro Pozuelo formed the midfield three; Robert Taylor and Ariel Lassiter started on the wings either side of in-form striker Higuaín in attack.
Pozuelo, who bagged a brace in his last regular season match against NYCFC, returned to the starting XI after missing the team’s final two regular season matches due to a groin injury.
A tense half began with Pozuelo aiming to continue his strong form against New York, as the midfielder probed the defense in the fourth minute, evaded two defenders and curled a left-footed shot just wide of the post from the edge of the box.
The team then appeared to net the opening goal in the 23rd minute when a beautiful buildup resulted in McVey playing a perfect ball for Higuaín in front of goal that the striker calmly finished at the near post, but it was called offside.
In the 28th minute, Mabika made an acrobatic goal-line clearance on a chipped shot from forward Héber that was going into the back of the net to deny the hosts the opening goal.
Both teams then had a couple of opportunities each in attack before in the remaining minutes of the half, but the match went into the break scoreless.
Inter Miami started the second half creating its best chance in the match in the 57th minute; Pozuelo played a ball for Higuaín down the left wing before cutting in to evade his defender and unleashing a curled shot headed for the far post that forced a diving save from goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
It was NYCFC, however, that opened the scoring a few minutes later in the 63rd minute. A long ball over the top from Maxi Moralez found Santiago Rodríguez, who cut back onto his right and passed it to his right to Gabriel Pereira in the box, who fired a left-footed curling shot off the bar and into the back of the net to put the hosts 1-0 up on the scoreboard.
Despite Inter Miami’s efforts to find its way back into the match, the hosts were able to extend their lead. NYCFC scored in the 63rd and 92nd minutes with finishes by Moralez and Héber inside the box for the final 3-0 scoreline.
The loss at Citi Field brought to an end a thrilling 2022 MLS season for Inter Miami in which the team overcame a slow start to the campaign after a complete roster overhaul during the offseason to successfully clinch a playoff berth for the Club to make its second postseason appearance in only three years of history.
“I think the players have been unbelievable...but we want to win, we want to challenge, we want to go deep into the playoffs. We want to get to semifinals, we want to get to finals. We want to finish in the top four, we want a home playoff match," said head coach Phil Neville. "It’s a baby step forward. I think we’ve changed the way that people look at Inter Miami. I think that was important,” said head coach Phil Neville.
Gonzalo Higuaín’s Retirement
The Round One Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs fixture was also the final chapter in the illustrious career of Argentine forward Higuaín that spanned 17-and-a-half years. Higuaín bowed out in spectacular fashion, registering 14 goals and two assists in the last 16 regular season matches (from July 13 to Oct. 9) to guide Inter Miami to its Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs berth and finishing as the team’s top scorer in 2022 with a total 16 goals, while also registering three assists on the season. In all, the striker made 68 MLS appearances for Inter Miami over two-and-a-half seasons after joining the team in the summer of 2020, tallying a Club-record 29 goals and 14 assists in that span.
NYC - 51.9%
MIA - 48.1%
NYC - 27
MIA - 12
NYC - 4
MIA - 3
NYC - 8
MIA - 6
NYC - 11
MIA - 12