The Matches That Matter
Inter Miami (14th, 28 points) at Atlanta United (6th, 42)
Heading into the Leagues Cup tournament in July, Inter Miami was dead last in the Eastern Conference, 12 points out of a playoff spot. With just 12 matches remaining, the postseason seemed well out of reach.
But NOT impossible. La Rosa Negra haven’t lost a match since the arrivals of Messi, Sergio Busquets and, shortly afterward, Jordi Alba and three under-22 youth initiative signings from South America.
New York Red Bulls (13th, 29 points) at New York City FC (12th, 30)
Draw. An Inter Miami win gives the Herons 31 points; if Energy Drink FC and the Pigeons play to a stalemate, La Rosa Negra are tied for 12th with the Cityzens. AND Miami has two games more than NYCFC and one more than the Red Bulls left to play.
D.C. United (9th, 34 points) at Charlotte (11th, 31)
Charlotte. D.C. United remains the team the Herons have to catch; a win gives the Eagles 37 points and ensures Inter Miami remain at least six points back. It’s important to note that Inter Miami also has two more games left than D.C. United, so there are some points to be gained.
NOTE: Charlotte would be at 34 points, three ahead of Inter Miami if both teams win this weekend. Both teams have played 26 MLS matches and, because the first Charlotte-Miami regular-season match was postponed when the Herons played deep into, and eventually won, the Leagues Cup, the teams will play their final matches of the year against one another.
D.C. United may be the target for the moment, but keep an eye on Charlotte; they may be the Herons’ real rival for the last playoff spot when we get to decision day.
Chicago (10th, 32 points) at Montreal (8th, 35)
Montreal. Inter Miami doesn’t need to catch Les Canadiens to make the postseason, but it does need to catch the Fire. The Herons can’t pass Chicago this week, but it can reel them in to within a point.