It's all on the line for Inter Miami CF on Decision Day presented by AT&T, where they could give themselves a chance at a 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth with a win over FC Cincinnati (3:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info).
Going into the matchup, Miami's 0.95 points per game puts them in striking distance of Chicago Fire FC and the Montreal Impact, who currently occupy the final two spots in the East at 1.05 ppg. It would take some other results breaking their way, but with his team still alive, midfielder Lewis Morgan said the high stakes of the matchup aren't lost on him.
“Yeah, there’s massive pressure. I wouldn’t downplay it,” Morgan said. “I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but for me certainly pressure is what you want because that means there’s something at stake. It’s a massive game on the weekend and we welcome all the pressure that will be put on us. Hopefully we can use that as a positive and help us drive on and get a positive result. We’ve got pressure from ourselves internally and we have pressure from the outside from the fans. We want to make them proud also. We’ve got a lot on our shoulders. Hopefully we can use all that energy to drive us on and get the victory.”
Inter Miami's first season in MLS hasn't gone to expectations overall, but a playoff berth would give them a chance to change the narrative.
That's the focus, according to forward
, who said that he has faith in the big-game experience present on the team, and that a postseason qualification would offer up a clean slate to try and make something special happen.
Inter Miami CF and Gonzalo Higuain can give themselves a chance at a playoff berth with a Decision Day win over FC Cincinnati | USA Today Sports
“I agree that I had a lot of experience in a lot of important games and I hope I can help this weekend as we play for the qualification to the playoffs although we’ll need other results,” Higuain said. “But more than my experience, in this team there’s other players with experience: [Blaise] Matuidi World Cup champion, Rodolfo Pizarro was a champion in Mexico. [Wil] Trapp has played in a final with Columbus, Diego Alonso has been champion in Mexico. More than my experience the other teammates also have their experience.
"Hopefully between everyone we have a strong base and we can achieve this qualification. I think it’d be something really good in the club’s first year. And once we qualify, a new competition starts. Playoffs are different. And hopefully we can make history. I don’t think any expansion team has won the Cup in its first year [Editor’s note: Chicago Fire won in 1998]. We know it’s tough, but the dream is there and that’s what we’re chasing.”
The first step is taking care of business against FC Cincinnati.
Head coach Diego Alonso said the message he's emphasizing ahead of the matchup is that they should approach it like a win-and-in situation first and foremost, and let the chips fall where they may after that.
“We have to focus on winning our game. And we’re convinced that if we win, we’ll qualify," Alonso said. "That’s how we have to think. We have to be positive and believe that we’re capable of doing it, being able to win and then wait for the other results. Because there’s no margin for a draw or goal difference. It’s all about winning and if we get two or three other results to go our way, we’re in the playoffs.”
“Stay positive, good energy, believe in ourselves, believe that we can win although the game won’t be easy. But we need to insist through any difficulties that present themselves [in the game] and bring the best out of ourselves to be able to win. And we have to stay positive because we think that if we win, we’ll be in the playoffs If we win and we’re not in the playoffs, then we’ll reflect on what we didn’t do previously that didn’t allow us to get in. But I think if we win, we’ll be in.”