After the high-octane excitement of its successful Leagues Cup campaign and the thrill of its comeback victory in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, Inter Miami and Lionel Messi get down to the main job at hand on Saturday.
The Major League Soccer regular season returns in full with Miami, who travel to the New York Red Bulls, faced with the tough task of climbing from bottom place in the Eastern Conference and into the playoff positions.
Prior to the break for Leagues Cup – and Messi’s arrival along with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba – Miami was winless in 11 games in MLS with the worst record in the entire league.
In most leagues in the world, a team in that position would be focused purely on avoiding relegation from the top flight.
But MLS has no relegation and instead has a playoff system which could yet offer a way for the new-look Miami, under Argentine coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, to compete for the title – MLS Cup.
The top nine finishers in each conference earn a spot in the playoffs with the top seven going into the first round, best of three series of games. The eighth and ninth placed teams play each other in a single elimination ‘wild card’ match to get into the first round.
Miami is currently 14 points behind ninth place with 12 games left and so has little room for error in the remainder of the season.
But the form it has shown since the arrival of Messi and his two former Barcelona teammates, unbeaten in eight games, albeit winning three of their knockout ties via penalties, suggests such a playoff push is not out of the question.
It will be a long slog to turn Inter’s MLS season around and adding to the difficulty of the task, Martino admitted after Wednesday’s shoot-out win over Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup, that his star man was amongst those feeling the pace of its recent exertions.
/ 3 years ago
Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta...