A Night to Remember for Inter Miami CF as they Beat Orlando City SC and Clinch a Playoff Spot

Inter Miami Orlando City

Fort Lauderdale – A fairytale start to the match for Inter Miami CF against Orlando City SC was the prelude to an enchanted night at DRV PNK Stadium that culminated in a playoff berth. The Herons conquered the Lions by a score of 4-1, led by Gonzalo Higuain’s brace. Leo Campana and Ariel Lassiter also scored in Miami’s most dominating victory in the Florida Derby to date.

The Starting XI featured two changes from the previous match against Toronto FC mainly due to Alejandro Pozuelo’s groin injury and Gregore’s accumulation of yellow cards suspension. Robert Taylor and Indiana Vassilev got the nod from Phil Neville.

First Half

The Herons came out aggressively from the onset of the game, pressing Orlando City on the ball. The tactic had an immediate effect as Robert Taylor had a ball ricochet perfectly off his leg towards the Orlando side of the pitch for Leo Campana to outpace the Lion defenders and score a roaring Golazo 35 seconds into the match. Campana’s goal was the fastest in Inter Miami CF history. 1-0 Miami.

Inter Miami CF continued to dominate the half with Orlando City having few approximations on the Miami goal.

In the 38′ minute the Herons would get on the scoreboard again via the league’s best-in-form striker Gonzalo Higuain. Indiana Vassilev dribbled past several players and made a cheeky right-footed chip into space for Ariel Lassiter. Lassiter lofted a cross into the box which Higuain smashed with his left foot into the back of the Orlando net. 2-0 Miami.

The first half would end with Miami up 2-0 over Orlando, a justifiable score according to what was happening on the pitch.

Second Half

The second half continued to be dominated by Miami, which was playing charming futbol, elegant on possession and wicked on defense.

At the 49′ minute Damion Lowe sent a pass for Ariel Lassiter into the Orlando area that hit off a defender’s arm and led to a penalty kick call by the referee. Higuain masterfully fooled the keeper and placed the shot into the Orlando goal for the 3-0 Miami lead.

Everything seemed to be going in the Heron’s favor as Orlando City seemed to be cursed.

The final Inter Miami goal would be scored in fantastic fashion by Ariel Lassiter at the 55′ minute. Bryce Duke began a counterattack by passing the ball ahead to Lassiter who found himself in a two versus-two scenario with Higuain on his left side. Lassiter used Gonzalo as a decoy as he continued to dribble toward the Orlando area and then sent a heat-seeking missile past the goalkeeper for the 4-0 Miami lead. The party was on at DRV PNK Stadium.

Orlando City would score a consolation goal at the 70′ minute by Ercan Kara, too little too late. The Lions continued to press forward for the remainder of the match, but could not score again. 4-1 final score, Inter Miami CF was victorious, and to the victors go the spoils as the fans didn’t want the party to end.

Postgame Press Conference

Coach Neville and Gonzalo Higuain once again spoke at the press conference, and I took advantage and asked each one a question about the team’s possibilities in the playoffs. I’ve been saying that once in, anything can happen, and the coach along with the players have the belief that they can win a title.

I asked Coach Neville if the team’s current form allows them to believe that they can make a Miami Miracle and win the league,

“I see no reason why this team should stop now. They’re on the brink of something really special. Tonight was nice, it wasn’t special.”

Neville went on to explain that for this team to be remembered, they can’t come this far to just get knocked out in the first round.  His expectations are to win the league, an amazing goal given this team’s start to this season. Regardless of what happens moving forward, great expectations are going to be the norm for this organization.

I asked Gonzalo Higuain if this team that is being led by him has the faith and the belief that they can win the league title, and his answer was stone-cold,

“No doubt.”

He went on to explain that not only do they believe they can do it, but they also have great hope in being able to accomplish the enormous feat. The leader of this team is oozing confidence on the pitch, and that has given everyone in the squad confidence and hope. Miami will be tough for any team they face in the playoffs. A team full of hope is a dangerous team.

Final Thoughts

Before the game, I tweeted that there was a nice crowd and a nice vibe going on at the Fanzone, and the nice victory was the only thing that was needed. The Herons provided the Nicest win in team history so far! What a drubbing of rival Orlando City, 4-1, and utter domination. The perfect ending to a perfect night, DRV PNK Stadium was the happiest place on earth.

The Herons assured their spot in the playoffs and could have possibly set the Lions up to be knocked out of the playoffs in their next game against Columbus Crew.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Phil Neville put out a brilliant attacking lineup in the team’s most important game of the season. The evolution of Phil and this team from the start of the season to now is awesome. The coach deserves some credit just like he gets a lot of criticism.

Indiana Vassilev had an amazing match! Indy was flying all over the field, brilliant on attack and defense. This is the player we have all been hoping to see, his talents on full display. Anything less moving forward is not acceptable. I must admit that Indy was not playing his usual winger role out wide, but instead closer to the middle and it suited him greatly.

Aime Mabika towered over everyone on defense Wednesday night against Orlando. Mabika is another young talent that played to his full capabilities demonstrating his skillset against Orlando City. This version of Mabika and the defense as a whole will be needed to advance on the road to a title.

OLE,OLE,OLE, PIPA! What a storybook ending to Higuain’s career! If someone wrote a script for a movie and featured everything that has happened and is happening with Gonzalo this season, it might not seem believable. The story is not over yet.

Alejandro Pozuelo and Gregore were out against Orlando, and the team played its best game of the campaign. That goes to show that Miami has a deep team with players that are able to be interchanged, except for one, Gonzalo Higuain. Gonzalo Higuain is the star lighting the way.

Leo Campana is hurt again. The young forward has been fabulous when on the pitch, but the slew of injuries is concerning. Hopefully, he can return for a playoff run.

The wild roller coaster ride continues for Inter Miami CF, jump on and be a part of it, it’s something special.

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