Orlando City will visit Inter Miami on Saturday afternoon in the fourth and final meeting of first-year Florida rivals in a match that will have playoff implications for both clubs.
Orlando (8-2-8, 32 points) secured its first postseason berth in club history with its 1-1 draw at the New York Red Bulls last Sunday.
But after making a run to the MLS is Back Tournament final in early August under first-year manager Oscar Pareja and assembling an MLS-best active unbeaten run of 12 matches, the goals are understandably higher, says rookie forward Daryl Dike.
"We've put ourselves in a good position," Dike said after Sunday's draw. "Obviously we just made the playoffs today, but I think we're going to carry on. The goal wasn't just playoffs. We're not done now. We just keep going and keep going. We want three points every single game and we want to finish the highest in the table. That's the main goal."
A win could lift fourth-place Orlando at least temporarily ahead of third-place Columbus in the Eastern Conference, with the Crew set to play in Houston later Saturday. The top four East finishers will earn the right to host home first-round matches.
Miami (5-11-3, 18 points) enters the weekend two points back of Chicago for the 10th and final East playoff spot following a frustrating 2-1 loss at the Montreal Impact last Saturday. And star forward Gonzalo Higuain received a red card stemming from an incident after the final whistle that will see him suspended against Orlando.
The visitors fell behind after only six minutes, then found a leveler through Brek Shea before halftime only to concede a game-winner in the 80th minute. The result snapped a modest three-match unbeaten run, and the slow start was particularly annoying given Miami could have leaped over Montreal in the standings with a win.
"We were prepared for the game, we were mentally in, we knew the situation that we were in and that they were directly above us," Miami midfielder Victor Ulloa said of that sluggish opening. "I can't really come up with any excuses. It's just not good enough from the get-go, and I think it took us a little bit, 20, 25 minutes to get into the game."
--Field Level Media