On a soggy New York night,‘s spectacular career ended as NYCFC defeated Inter Miami in their first-round playoff match. After a commanding first half in which the ball twice hit the goalpost in quick succession, NYCFC scored their well-earned goals. Gabriel Perreira scored the opening goal after connecting with Santiago Rodriguez in the box in the 63rd minute. Six minutes later, captain Maxi Moralez added the second, effectively giving the hosts the victory.
Heber scored in stoppage time to make it 3-0 and give NYCFC some extra momentum as they continue to defend their title in the conference semifinals. They added one more on one of Miami’s numerous defensive blunders.
Inter Miami had a bad night because their own self-destruction defeated them. Miami’s defense was at times disastrous with terrible giveaways and uneven marking because the team was determined to play out of the back despite being on the road in difficult conditions. While goals for NYCFC were consistently on the horizon, the Miami assault presented little threat. Alejandro Pozuelo, a playmaker, was kept entirely silent as Phil Neville’s side collapsed in a whimper.
Gonzalo Higuain’s career will end without an MLS championship, making it a sad day in his memory. Though his miraculous goal-scoring streak to conclude the regular season provided one final glimpse into how good he was, the games that came before this one will be remembered as the ones that defined his legacy. Though he came close on this particular day, his best opportunity of the day was disallowed for offside only seconds after a beautiful one-touch finish. For Higuain and Miami, that kind of day was expected.
NYCFC aren’t the favorites to win it all because they aren’t the same team they were last year. Taty Castellanos’ absence continues to be felt, as does the departure of manager Ronny Deila, who left in the middle of the season to take the helm at Standard Liege.
However, this NYCFC team still has something to say and the skills and talent to defeat any Eastern team. Despite the heartbreaking midseason exits, don’t write them off going into the next round. They’ll need Talles Magno, their aspiring Brazilian superstar, to recover from his injuries.
After triumphing in their initial match at Citi Field, their second home, NYCFC will now travel to face CF Montreal, who defeated Orlando City in their opening match.
For more information on players and statistics, keep following this space.