As it stands, Inter Miami CF currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining. After beating Orlando City Saturday and a Chicago Fire draw later that night, the Herons will go into their next match holding the conference’s final playoff spot.
Due to the shortened season, MLS decided to alter the playoffs and award four extra teams in the Eastern Conference and two extra teams in the Western Conference a playoff berth. So, instead of the normal six teams from years prior, ten Eastern Conference teams will compete in the MLS Playoffs. Inter Miami’s negative record of 6-3-11 (W-D-L) has given them a total of 21 points over 20 games. That is NOT a great record, but in a year like 2020, it’s still enough to end a week in a playoff position.
The 10th spot
Inter Miami is only in the 10th position due to a tiebreaker over Chicago. As Chicago (21 pts) only has 5 wins, and Inter Miami has 6, the Herons are above in the standings. One thing Miami lacks right now over Chicago is a game in hand. While Miami has played 20 total matches, Chicago has only played 19. As much as a fan would like for Inter Miami’s fate to be in the team’s own hands, they still need to hope for results around the league.
Both teams play away games Wednesday night against respectable opponents. Miami will travel to Texas as they take on FC Dallas, while Chicago will travel to Subaru Park to take on the Philadelphia Union. The Union right now are in a crazy run of form. They’ve only dropped points in one of their last five games, and beating Toronto FC Saturday by a score of 5-0 was more than enough to let Philadelphia overtake the Canadian side for first place in the East. FC Dallas, however, has only won one of their last seven games but is now in a very tight playoff race out West. They surely won’t be looking to drop any points at home; therefore, Inter will have to be on their game.
These games will prove to be critical at the season’s conclusion. Inter Miami nor Chicago will be favored in their matchups, but a betting man might tell you that Inter Miami holds the edge. If things work out in Inter Miami’s favor (a win for IMCF, a loss for CFFC), Chicago will still have a game in hand but will be down three points and two numbers in the win column, which would be massive for Inter going into the final two weeks.
Another game other than Chicago-Philadelphia that is important for Inter Miami is the Tuesday night matchup between Montreal and Nashville. Montreal (23 pts) currently sits in 9th place with a two-point lead over Inter Miami. Miami missed their first opportunity to overtake Montreal in the standings when they lost 2-1 to the Impact last week. Had Miami won, they’d feel a lot more comfortable with their playoff hopes. Depending on Tuesday’s result, Miami would have another chance to overtake Montreal in the standings. A loss or a tie for Montreal would put them on 24 points or 23 points, with a -9 or worse goal differential, and just seven wins. If Miami can capitalize on a Montreal loss or tie with a win over FC Dallas the next day, they’ll head into their following match sitting in the East’s 9th place.
Going much further than 9th to finish the season is A LOT to ask for. Though still possible, the teams ahead will have to do a lot of losing. Nashville SC sits in 8th with 25 points, New York Red Bulls are in 7th with 26 points, and beyond that, it is not really worth trying to come up with scenarios for.
The best outcome for Inter Miami maybe a tie in Tuesday’s match between Nashville and Montreal, but it’s probably in the team’s best interest to end up with a Nashville victory so they can overtake Montreal in the table solely on points.
Past the Midweek Games
If Inter Miami does win Wednesday and both Montreal and Chicago lose in their respective midweek matchups, the team’s fate will then mathematically lay in their own hands. Montreal would be down on points, and if Miami wins out, they cannot be caught by any other team from that point on. Winning is the key here, though. Remember, this is an expansion team whose only been able to draw up 6 wins over 20 games thus far. Not only that, but there’s only been one time the entire season where Inter Miami has won just TWO games in a row. While looking at the chances, it must be taken into account that the team is being asked to win their final three games in a row after winning the game prior.
Past the Dallas game, Miami plays Toronto FC away and then are home vs. FC Cincinnati to finish the season. For Montreal, other than Nashville, their last two opponents are Orlando City and D.C. United. And for Chicago, they’ll round out the season against Nashville, Minnesota, and NYCFC.
In these last couple of weeks, Inter Miami could really use all possible points. A tie in any remaining game would mean Montreal or Chicago would need to drop points in another game outside of the midweek games coming up. It’d be a lot to ask for.
If Miami could make it three wins from their last three and find a final run of form, they are likely in. If not, get ready for fans to cheer ever so hard against Montreal and Chicago.