This is a game that should be a showpiece MLS event in the coming years but is yet to really take off. Heading into this match, Toronto FC don’t have a lot to play for. They’re currently second-bottom on the eastern conference table and aren’t going to make it to the playoffs.
Inter Miami, on the other hand, are very much in need of all three points heading into this tie. They’re in seventh place with 42 points on board but their playoff spot is far from certain. The two sides have only faced each other five times so far with Toronto FC coming out on top four times, and Inter Miami coming out on top just the one time.
Toronto FC are also playing at home but they don’t have a lot to play for other than pride. Inter Miami, on the other hand, have a lot to play for. Their desperation for a win and the form of both sides in recent weeks suggests that this should end up with a win for the away side.
The last meeting between the two sides took place just last month. It was a great game with Inter Miami getting their first win against Toronto FC with a 2-1 scoreline. Jean Moto opened the scoring in the 24th minute for Inter Miami before Lorezno Insigne equalized just four minutes later.
Ariel Lassiter got Inter Miami the all-important goal just before half-time to get them the win on the day. Inter Miami had to batten down the hatches in the second half with Toronto FC taking 14 shots on goal and finding four on target with 58% of the possession. It was a defiant display from Inter Miami, something that was lacking earlier in the season, and gave them an invaluable win.
Toronto FC put in a sub-par performance against Orlando City SC in their last MLS match, losing 4-0 eventually. All the progress that Toronto FC had made just a few weeks back came to a crash in this match after Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara and Tesho Akindele found their finishing touch on the day. Unfortunately for him, Lukas MacNaughton also found it for his own side in the 47th minute, which essentially wrapped up the game for Orlando City.
It was a disappointing performance from the Canadian side and a similar performance could lead to a similar result against their upcoming opponents.
Toronto FC should be a lot stronger in the next campaign but no matter how strong their end up being in the forward areas, that defense is going to let them down more often than not. They’ve conceded 61 goals this season and the expected goals against value of 56.7 doesn’t paint a great picture either.
They’ve conceded four goals in each of their last three matches in the MLS as well. This is painfully abject. It’s not just new players in the backline that need to come in but also some organization. The focus heading into next season has got to be to make the team harder to beat. There is a very enthusiastic soccer crowd in Toronto. There’s real potential to create something special with this team but it needs to start from the back.
Toronto FC could be one of the strongest sides next season. By the time Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernarsdeschi had joined the club, the team had far too much to do to catch up. They had to go on a perfect run — and while the two Italian European champions are great players, they aren’t miracle workers.
Bernardeschi has been outstanding with eight goals and two assists from 11 games and his senior, Insigne, hasn’t been too bad either with six goals and two assists from 10 games. They could beat anyone in the MLS with those in the forward areas but as mentioned earlier, the two stars need support in other areas and a way of playing that won’t get them to exert their energy all the time. Toronto FC are building for the future and the future looks promising even if this season has ended in disappointment.
A goal four minutes into the 90 from Gonzalo Higuain gave Inter Miami a massive three points in a bid to secure a playoff spot for the first time in their short history in the MLS. Cristian Benteke had given DC United the lead with a goal in the 22nd minute but Leonardo Campana was in excellent nick, scoring a brace between the 39th and 53rd minute to give Inter Miami a 2-1 lead.
Taxiarchis Fountas scored the equalizer four minutes later and it looked the two sides were going to share the points but Higauin was having none of it and scored the crucial winner.
Gonzalo Higuain might’ve been expected to score more than his 13 goals this season because of his incredible career in European football at the biggest clubs but that would take away from his exploits in the second half of the season.
He started as a deep-lying forward in the first half of the season and did a decent job but wasn’t able to register enough assists to confirm if the plan was working. He’s now mixing it up and doing his primary job, which is to score goals, and has been a real leader for this side in the second half of the season.
There’s no doubt about David Beckham’s ambitions for the club. Some of the best players in world soccer in the last decade like Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets have been linked with moves to the club and there’s a feeling that it’s just a matter of time before Inter Miami become a part of the elite.
What’s less certain is if Phil Neville will still be a part of the project when they do become that elite side.
He’s been under severe pressure but has done a decent job so far and brought some character back into this side in the second half. Character alone won’t be enough in the long run but he’ll need to pull every inch out of these players to make sure they remain in that seventh spot or go even higher before the regular season ends.
|Teams||Toronto FC vs Inter Miami|
|Time||Friday, 30 September at 7.30 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, TSN, My33 and UniMas|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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