Miami qualifies as #6 seed in MLS Cup Playoffs
Inter Miami has qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs as the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami is in good form coming into the playoffs, winning four straight late in the season before a loss on Decision Day when their playoff hopes were pretty much all locked up.
Miami will play 3-seed New York City FC on Monday (October 17th) in the first round at 7:00 pm Eastern. The match will be broadcast on FS1. The match will be played in Red Bull Arena (due to scheduling conflicts for NYCFC caused by the Yankees' participation in MLB's postseason).
Miami and Orlando City (7-seed) tied on points (48) and both made the playoffs, but Miami got the seeding edge due to tiebreakers. It was not an easy tiebreaker however, as it went all the way down to the 3rd tiebreaker (goals scored) where the Herons had a three goal advantage (47 to 44).
Gonzalo Higuain made some huge plays for Miami late in the season to propel them over the playoff line. He scored seven goals in Miami's final six matches of the year, with several of them being late match winners in crucial matches. Higuain ends the year with 16 goals total.
Something to watch in the match could be injuries for NYCFC. They had several players (including star Talles Magno) go down in their regular season finale against Atlanta. The status of those players could go a long way in deciding exactly what Miami's chances of pulling an upset are. Magno ended the season with seven goals and ten assists for NYCFC, while completing 81% of his passes.
Potential Future Miami Playoff Outlook
Here is a look at what a potential Miami playoff run would look like:
If Miami gets past NYCFC, then Miami would play the winner of 2-seed Montreal vs 7-seed Orlando in the second round. If Montreal wins, then Miami would remain on the road for that second round matchup, but if Orlando pulls the upset then Miami would host their Sunshine State rivals. The second round will be October 20th-23rd.
Then if Miami wins again, they would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would be on the road no matter who they face (all three teams in the other side of the bracket are higher seeds than Miami). They would either play 1-seed Philadelphia Union, 4-seed New York Red Bulls, or 5-seed FC Cincinnati. The Eastern Conference Final will be on October 30th.
Then would come the MLS Cup if Miami keeps winning. I believe that the only team Miami would hypothetically host in the MLS Cup would be Western Conference 7-seed Real Salt Lake. I believe Miami would be the road team against any of the top six seeds in the West if the Herons make it all the way.
This was just a quick snapshot of Miami's playoff outlook. With the way Higuain is hitting his stride the last few weeks, Miami could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.