Higuain eyes Miami playoff berth as MLS regular season ends

·2-min read
Gonzalo Higuain is determined to help Inter Miami into the playoffs as Major League Soccer's regular season draws to a close on Sunday
Gonzalo Higuain is determined to help Inter Miami into the playoffs as Major League Soccer's regular season draws to a close on Sunday

Gonzalo Higuain is determined to help keep Inter Miami's debut season alive as the curtain comes down on Major League Soccer's pandemic-disrupted regular season on Sunday.

David Beckham's Miami franchise heads into this weekend's final round of fixtures with its chances of reaching the post-season dependent on results elsewhere going the correct way.

Montreal Impact and Chicago Fire occupy the final two available playoff berths from the Eastern Conference and will seal their post-season spots with victories over D.C. United and New York City FC respectively.

Miami, who are jostling alongside Atlanta United and D.C. United for a playoff place, must beat already-eliminated FC Cincinnati to have any realistic chance of prolonging their campaign.

But former Real Madrid and Juventus striker Higuain insists Beckham's Florida expansion team can rise to the occasion in Sunday's game in Fort Lauderdale.

"I have great experience in very important games and I am sure I can help the team. I'm used to dealing with the pressure," said Higuain.

"I have played at the highest level but there are others in the squad and on the coaching staff who have won titles in the past and I hope we can reach the playoffs," the Argentina international added.

"For our first year, that would be great and no team has ever won the MLS Cup in their debut season so that's the dream."

The form book does does not augur well for Miami, however. Diego Alonso's team enters Sunday's must-win game on the back of two straight defeats, the latest by 2-1 to Toronto FC last weekend.

Higuain, who signed for Miami in September, admitted he was still in the process of adapting to his new surroundings.

"Processes take time," said Higuain. "Obviously I have to understand my new teammates, the new teammates have to understand me, I have to understand the coach's ideas, I have to understand the new league, I have to understand the work methodology for how the team works here."

The race to secure the final two playoff places in the Eastern Conference is the main issue to be decided in Sunday's final round of fixtures, although at the other end of the table, first placed Philadelphia are neck and neck with Toronto in the race for top spot.

In the Western Conference, meanwhile, all of the playoff places have been settled, meaning remaining interest focuses on the three-way scrap for top seeding between Sporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers and reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders.

The playoffs will kick off after the upcoming international break, with the opening round of post-season fixtures taking place on November 20 and the MLS Cup set for December 12.

rcw/js