Gonzalo Higuain, Thiago Santos — Inter Miami CF — Action
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Inter Miami CF hang on to playoff hopes in spite of loss to FC Dallas

In the thick of the playoff race, Inter Miami CF seemed to be in the driver’s seat at Toyota Stadium against FC Dallas.

Miami, who are hanging on to the tenth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, were about to enter the hour mark with a 1-0 lead but a sudden penalty changed the fate of the game. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez fouled Bryan Reynolds inside the box and gave away a penalty at the 56th minute.

Fast forward to the final whistle and Dallas notched a 2-1 win thanks to a game-winning goal from Ryan Hollingshead in the 82nd minute. A win in Dallas could have bumped Miami over the Montreal Impact into the ninth spot, instead the team remains tenth two points below their Canadian counterparts.

“We wanted to get points today and that would have allowed us to take advantage over the other teams,” said head coach Diego Alonso. “We need to make adjustments to continue fighting in the final two games because we have dreams that we want to achieve.”

“We’re frustrated because we were up a goal and we went down and I feel like that’s happened to us quite a few times this year,” said Ben Sweat. “But we’re still above the line, we just gotta focus one game at a time in these next few games and get results.”

For Sweat, defending as a unit will be crucial in order for the expansion side to make their way into the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. The fullback believes that “complete performances” from both sides of the pitch will be necessary in the final two games of the season.

Highlights: FC Dallas vs. Inter Miami CF

“We need to hold each other accountable,” Sweat said. “I think we have to start defending well from [John McCarthy] all the way to [Gonzalo Higuain] up top and we have to attack the same way.”

Miami’s next match-up won’t be easy to say the least. Diego Alonso’s squad will travel to East Hartford to take on Supporters’ Shield contenders Toronto FC on Sunday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN in Canada). Other results around the league could help out Miami but Alonso refuses to let other results affect him heading into a crucial match against TFC.

“We weren’t interested in the other results, we were focused on ourselves,” Alonso said. “That’s how it’s going to be for the remainder of the season. We continue working to be able to stay in the playoffs.”

On his end, Sweat is adamant that Miami is “focused on Toronto and only Toronto right now.” The team will once again play on the road but for the Florida native a result, any result, will be capital to control their fate ahead of Decision Day.

“I think that everyone just needs to flip the page, take the next three-four days to recover mentally, physically and emotionally and we gotta get a result. Whether that’s a win, or even with one point, we have to get a result,” Sweat said. “I don’t think we want to leave it to the hands of other teams. I think that if we get a result this next game and we’re at home, I think we dominate teams at home and I think that if it comes down to getting a good result next weekend and then I think we’ll win against FC Cincinnati at home.”