Inter Miami hope to keep their playoff hopes alive when they oppose Toronto FC on Sunday in East Hartford, Conn.
Inter (6-12-3, 21 points) is in a tight race for one of two remaining Eastern Conference postseason spots. While a loss Saturday wouldn't officially eliminate Miami from contention, points are critical with only two games left in the regular season.
Just being this close to the playoffs is an impressive achievement for the expansion team considering Inter Miami began the season with a 1-6-1 record. In 13 games since midfielder Blaise Matuidi began playing, however, the Herons have a 5-6-2 record.
"When I first got here, we were going through a difficult moment as a team," Matuidi said through a translator. "But we really turned that around and are in control of our destiny at this point. ... We have to play this (Toronto) game as if it was a final."
The Herons' 2-1 road loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday was a costly result on many levels, as Miami will now be without three defenders against Toronto FC. Nicolas Figal suffered a leg injury while Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Andres Reyes (caution accumulation) are on one-game suspensions.
Toronto FC (12-4-5, 41 points) know all about being undermanned, as injuries throughout the roster have resulted in a rare losing streak. After falling 5-0 to the Philadelphia Union on Oct. 24 and 1-0 to New York City FC on Wednesday, Toronto hopes to avoid its first three-game losing streak since October 2018.
A loss to Inter Miami would all but end Toronto's chances at the Supporters' Shield. Beyond just capturing first-place honors, head coach Greg Vanney is focused on getting his team healthy and on track heading into the playoffs.
"We want to take steps forward towards not just our performances but also getting people back into the swing of this part of the season and get guys back connected on the field as much as we can," Vanney said.
It is unclear if Toronto FC's ailing regulars will be fit for Sunday, though defender Auro Jr. will return from a one-game suspension.
--Field Level Media