Inter Miami CF found a late set-piece goal from Leandro Gonzalez Pirez to grab a 2-1 win over Florida rivals Orlando City SC and a massive three points in the battle for a place in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs at Inter Miami CF Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions started the game the brighter of the two teams, and got on the board in the 12th minute. Antonio Carlos sent a long ball through a maze of white shirts to Daryl Dike. The rookie continued his sensational season, who lumbered toward goal and rounded Nicolas Figal en route to his fifth goal of the season. Miami turned up the pressure toward the end of the first half, with their attempts met by great defensive effort by Orlando. But in the 45th minute, Blauise Matuidi fired in a shot that caromed off Robin Jansson and into Orlando's goal.
The Herons continued to rev it up in the second half, with Julian Carranza rattling the crossbar with a 53rd-minute header that then bounced back into the field of play. Despite running up a huge shot advantage and testing Lions 'keeper Pedro Gallese in the process, Miami had difficulty finding a go-ahead goal. But then, on an 89th-minute corner, just after Orlando nearly created a go-ahead goal, LGP struck gold on an IMCF corner kick, heading home the winner.
- 12' – ORL – Daryl Dike | WATCH
- 45' – MIA – Robin Jansson (OG) | WATCH
- 89' – MIA – Leandro Gonzalez Pirez | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Miami would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Of course, it doesn't end today — there's still more soccer to be played, and the battle for the East's 10th spot is going to be particularly keen. But getting this win was vital to Miami's chances at reaching the playoffs in their inaugural season. For Orlando, the loss all depends on how you look at it. You could say it's the end of a 12-match unbeaten streak, which is a stellar run especially given all that 2020 has done to challenge teams. But it's also now four matches where Orlando's gone without a win — not exactly how you want to head into a postseason you've assured yourself you'll take part in.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Clearly, the goal from LGP was it. It's worth noting, though, that John McCarthy had a crucial save at the other end a minute earlier to make this moment possible for Miami.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though a number of Miami players contributed in what was a true team effort, LGP gets the nod here for scoring what could be a momentous goal in his team's first season.