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NYCFC Notch Three on Miami to Advance into Conference Semis

New York City FC's Gabriel Pereira celebrates his goal at Citi Field

QUEENS, NY – On a rainy night from Citi Field and despite a few key injuries for the home side, NYCFC notched three goals against Inter Miami as Gabriel Pereira, Maxi Moralez, and Héber launch the Pigeons into the MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semifinals to continue their title defense.

Higuaín Offside Call and “Double-Donk” Keep the Scoreline Even

While the first half was rather dull as NYCFC produced 16 shots to just five from Miami before halftime, both sides were able to create some solid first-half chances minus the final end product. Miami would almost open the scoring in the 23-minute. Christopher McVey hit a perfect pass with the outside of his foot from deep in the midfield, just carving it in between the NYCFC defensive line to find Gonzalo Higuaín now one-on-one with Sean Johnson. The former Real Madrid star would easily slot it home, however, the offside flag would be rapidly raised and the whistle blown to signal no goal for Miami. 

NYCFC would follow this up in the 28-minute as Santiago Rodríguez received the ball from Nicolás Acevedo about 30 yards outside the box and began dribbling towards it to take his free space. Once he reached the penalty arc, a great ball in behind the Miami defense from Rodríguez would give Héber an opportunity on goal with the Brazilian opting to chip the keeper. As the ball almost crossed over the line, Miami’s Aimé Mabika managed an incredible clearance to preserve the scoreline while the ball flew to McVey following Mabika’s clearance and he was forced to awkwardly push the ball off his own goalpost as NYCFC attackers chased.


Rodriguez and Pereira Break the Deadlock

With NYCFC leading most of the way to start off the second half, it wasn’t a major surprise when the host found a breakthrough in the 63-minute. This is because Rodríguez received the ball in some traffic just outside the center circle. Weaving through three Miami defenders, Rodríguez was able to find some space now rushing towards the opposition’s box and opting for a cut back to his stronger right foot while pushing through Damion Lowe. Just getting a pass off before falling to the ground, Rodríguez would pick out Gabriel Pereira following the play with a great run before curling a shot home out of Drake Callender’s reach to grab NYCFC a 1-0 lead.

Moralez and Héber Finish Off an NYCFC win

Just minutes after the Pereira goal, Maxi Moralez would follow up with one of his own to help extend the New York City advantage in the 69-minute. It would start with Anton Tinnerholm on the wing who found Pereira just off the touchline for a back-heeled pass toward Rodríguez.

From here, the Uruguyian would switch the field and pick out Kevin O’Toole who touched the ball down and passed back and forth with Héber before finally working the ball back to Moralez. As the ball slowly meandered back around to Tinnerholm, NYCFC would finally make an attacking pass picking out Rodríguez making a run across the face of the goal who played his own back-heeled pass finding Moralez with an excellent assist and a simple finish for the Argentinian to make it 2-0.


The Pigeons would cap off the win in the 92nd minute of added time as Keaton Parks applied midfield pressure to Jean Mota forcing a bad back pass toward Callender and Ryan Sailor. From here, Héber would swoop in and pick off the pass creating a one-on-one opportunity with Callender who would make the initial save but would see the rebound cleaned up by Héber to make it 3-0 in favor of NYCFC sending the host into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Last Word: Hard Fought from Miami but New York City will Advance

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While it was a toughly contested matchup from Miami particularly in the early going as the Herons were led by some strong midfield/wing play from Mota, Pozuelo, Taylor, and Higuaín, it will be New York City advancing into the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Between a narrow offside call and a few key saves from Johnson in the first half, this game could have produced a completely different scoreline if not for NYCFC finding their offensive output in the second half. However, it quickly became clear that Miami started to fall off late into this match and as the rain began to fall and with NYCFC throttling to the finish, Phil Neville’s team struggled to keep up.

Similarly, while the injuries of Talles Magno, Tayvon Gray, and Alfredo Morales were expected to hinder NYCFC – especially on the offensive end – the club showed perseverance and that they still have some very capable attackers in front of goal. Following this 3-0 victory over Miami, the Pigeons will advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they’re set for a head-to-head matchup with Montréal this Sunday, Oct. 23.



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