Inter Miami’s MLS Cup playoff hopes dwindle after latest loss

By Official Florida FC

Blaise Matuidi scored his first MLS goal, but it wasn’t enough for Inter Miami (6-13-3, 21 points, 0.95 points per game).

The Floridians dropped points yet again on Sunday night. This time it came via a 2-1 loss to Toronto FC.

Lewis Morgan’s relentless running down the right created the opportunity. The winger has, arguably, been Inter Miami’s most consistent player this season with his energy, goal-scoring and chance creation. Sunday was no different.

In the 42nd minute, Morgan got behind the Toronto FC defense and put the ball into the penalty area. Tornoto FC goalie Quentin Westberg parried the ball away, but it fell to Matuidi, who buried the ball inside the near post.

The halftime lead didn’t last long.

Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola. (Photo courtesy Major League Soccer)

Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola bullied Inter Miami central defender Alvas Powell to get onto a curling cross from Alejandro Pozuelo. The 20-year-old used his chest to bring the ball down before calmly finishing in the 55th minute.

Gonzalo Higuain, who spent portions of the first half dropping deep to receive possession, showed what is possible when he is closer to goal in the 79th minute. The Argentine, nonchantly brought a high, looping cross down with his right foot, dribbled away from goal to create space and uncorked a shot that left Westberg helpless.

Higuain’s shot caromed off the crossbar. Inter Miami’s hopes for a win may have bounced away as well.

A draw would not have killed Miami’s playoff chances — considering it would have tied the Herons on points with Chicago (5-9-7, 22 points, 1.05 points per game) for the 10th, and final, berth in the Eastern Conference playoff field — but both teams wanted wins.

Toronto (13-4-5, 44 points, 2.0 points per game) is in contention for the Supporters’ Shield with Philadelphia (13-4-5, 44 points, 2.0 points per game). Meanwhile, a Miami win would have vaulted the Herons into ninth in the Eastern Conference heading into the final week of the regular season.

In the 82nd minute Richie Laryea used his speed to beat Inter Miami fullback Ben Sweat to the corner. Sweat was warned by teammates “No foul! No foul!” But, the former USF defender was judged to have fouled Laryea for a penalty kick.

Pozuelo put the ball away in the 84th.

Inter Miami is 1-3-1 in its last five games. In the four contests where the Herons failed to win, they conceded in the last 10 minutes of the match. Sunday was no exception.

“We’ve had chances to win each of the last two matches. Above all else, in today’s match which was a difficult one, the team really played well. We had the chance to win the match, or at least earn a draw because we deserved it after the match,” Inter Miami manager Diego Alonso told the club’s website. “The errors have put us in this position. We have to face them and keep pushing because we have hope, we have life. We have to do our work well next Sunday and try to qualify.”

Inter Miami is 12th in the Eastern Conerence. Heading into the last week of the season there are four teams, Montreal (7-13-2, 22 points, 1.05 points per game), Chicago, Atlanta (6-12-4, 22 points, 1.0 points per game) and Miami vying for two playoff berths.

Inter Miami hosts FC Cincinnati on Nov. 8. Cincinnati has the worst goal difference in Major League Soccer this season.

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