Inter Miami's playoff hopes are hanging by a thread after losing 3-1 to the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, leaving them five points and a significant goal difference swing behind Columbus Crew in the final post-season spot.
Columbus' draw the night previous gave the Herons a chance to gain some ground in the race for seventh, with only five games left to play after this weekend, but they were smothered by a Fire side who took the lead shortly before half time and didn't relinquish it for a moment.
Colombian teenager Jhon Duran made the most of his tenth start of the season to open the scoring in the 40th minute, making a fantastic adjustment to meet a deflected cross with a stooping header past Nick Marsman.
The overpaid, underperforming Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri got on the scoresheet next with a finish rifled past Marsman to make it 2-0 after some poor defensive work in the box – Miami defenders failing to clear the ball or pick up Shaqiri lurking on the edge of the six-yard box.
The Chicago Fire beat Inter Miami 3-1 on Saturday
Designated Player Gonzalo Higuain did spark some hope in the 305 when he calmly tucked away a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, but Duran made sure that hope was short-lived with a fantastic counter-attacking goal – set free by Miguel Navarro down the left-hand side and shunning the support of Shaqiri in the middle to finish past Marsman himself.
While a lot of the focus in Chicago this weekend was on the condition of the playing surface at Soldier Field, SeatGeek Stadium didn't look a great deal better (albeit drier than Sunday's NFL opener), emphasised by the number of bobbles off the pitch the ball took on Duran's breakaway run and arguably making the goal more impressive.
The one thing running in Miami's favour is that they come back to Florida in midweek to play their direct promotion rivals Columbus, with the chance to cut the gap to just two points. With eight of their ten wins this season coming at home, it's the best place possible for a must-win game to be held.
The wrench in the works there? Columbus have only lost twice on the road all season, and are on an astonishing run of just one defeat in their last 17 MLS games. If they're going to pull this one out, Miami are going to have to rely on Higuain taking the game over or a Phil Neville coaching masterclass.