On Tuesday, the Herons won their third straight match by a 1-0 score, while New York are quickly falling out of the postseason race after dropping a 2-1 decision earlier this week to the Columbus Crew.
They did not make it easy on themselves this week, but in the end, the only thing that counts is the result, and Inter Miami were on the right side of another one-goal game that was not without its share of controversy and good fortune.
Everything went the way of Miami on Tuesday, with a red card reversed in the 14th minute after Richie Laryea was ruled offside, which left Gregore off the hook, then they went up a man when Kemar Lawrence was sent off, a Jacob Shaffelburg shot appeared to cross the line but with no goal-line technology it was inconclusive, and finally they earned a penalty in injury time to collect three points.
Afterwards, manager Phil Neville acknowledged that it was not one of their best efforts, but the pride and the fight of this team kept them going, and that is something we did not see from them in the early stages of the year.
Their resurgence has been quite extraordinary, from one of the basement dwellers to a side that have become a solid and stingy defensive unit, with four clean sheets and in the middle of their longest unbeaten run in club history, which currently sits at six games.
Miami have made up a lot of ground, and with their next two games in South Beach, they will fancy their chances to finally get above that playoff line, having won five straight encounters at home.
On the road, their defensive posture has enabled them to win, and at DRV PNK Stadium, it has been their precision in front of goal, scoring seven times in their last three fixtures.
The Red Bulls have squandered points in each of their games this month, points which have set them back and put them in a tough position to earn a postseason berth.
Earlier this week, Gerhard Struber was left speechless after his team conceded two goals in the final 16 minutes to fall 10 points back of Atlanta United for that final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It was the second consecutive match in which they had failed to hang on to an early lead, though they will consider themselves a little hard done by last Saturday when a controversial penalty was awarded against them late in the first half versus DC United.
Rarely this year have the Red Bulls been able to maintain the discipline and composure needed throughout 90 minutes, and that is why they are in a position to miss the playoffs for only the second time since getting a new team name.
They are running out of time to change their current predicament and their schedule will not be easy, with three games in eight days, beginning on Friday.
New York have lost their last four road encounters by a single goal, despite drawing first blood in their previous two, but in their only visit to Miami, they were able to win 4-1 last year, in a game that was played behind closed doors.
The Herons are still missing Ian Fray, Joevin Jones, Ventura Alvarado and Kieran Gibbs with undisclosed injuries, while Federico Higuain came on as a substitute versus TFC and Ryan Shawcross is close to being 100%.
On Tuesday, Red Bulls striker Patryk Klimala scored his fifth goal of the year, moving ahead of Caden Clark and Cristian Casseres in that department, while Dru Yearwood picked up his first assist of the season.
John Tolkin has shown plenty of poise and versatility well beyond his years, as the 19-year-old has been used as a left-back and a midfielder, completing 24 key passes in 2021.
Inter Miami possible starting lineup:
Marsman; Makoun, Figal, Gonzalez Pirez; Morgan, Matuidi, Gregore, Shea; Pizarro; G. Higuain, Robinson
New York Red Bulls possible starting lineup:
Carlos; Gutman, Nealis, Reyes; Tolkin, Diarra, Davis, Duncan; Klimala, Fabio, Clark
We say: Inter Miami 2-0 New York Red Bulls
In football, sometimes all it takes is a few breaks, and when you are playing well like Miami, those breaks tend to go your way.
With a playoff spot now within reach, expect to see the Herons come out aggressively and eager, and although New York have been able to hang around in a lot of their matches, they do not look as desperate and hungry as Miami.
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