Orlando City remains in second in MLS Eastern Conference

By Official Florida FC

Orlando City had an opportunity to kill its Florida rival’s MLS Cup playoff hopes on Sunday night at Exploria Stadium. The Lions allowed the Herons to leave Central Florida bruised, but not beaten.

Duncan McGuire’s ninth goal of his fantastic rookie campaign helped Orlando City earn a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami.

David Ruiz’s second professional goal opened the scoring. The 19-year-old pounced on a spilled shot by Orlando City keeper Pedro Gallese.

The visitors were playing without their Barcelona brotherhood. Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba did not make the trip north. Muscle fatigue was cited as the reason Messi didn’t play in the nationally televised match.

Busquets is 35 and Alba is 34 years old. Plus, Miami hosts the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night.

The result means Inter Miami (9-15-5, 32 points) remains in 14th place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. The Herons are five points behind NYCFC (8-10-13, 37 points) for the final playoff spot.

Inter Miami has at least one game in hand all five teams standing between the Herons and the MLS Cup playoffs. Their home stretch includes four games against three of those opponents NYCFC, Sept. 30; Chicago, Oct. 4 and consecutive matches against Charlotte FC on Oct. 18 and Oct. 21 to end the regular season.

The teams finished 1-1-1 against each other in 2023. Orlando City leads the all-time series 5-4-4, with one of those draws coming during the Lions’ run to the 2022 U.S. Open Cup.