TORONTO – Gonzalo Higuain arrived at the perfect time as his 86th-minute goal spoiled Toronto FC’s final home game on Friday by giving Inter Miami CF a 1-0 win.
Higuain’s goal was the result of a strong second half by Miami (13-13-6), which desperately needed a win to enter the game with the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference secured via the tiebreaker.
Miami controlled the ball throughout the game, finishing with 59 percent of possession. However, Toronto (9-17-7) was able to hang with the visitors, especially in the first half.
TFC had several quality scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes, most of which came from the feet of Federico Bernardeschi. The Italian star was the architect of several strong challenges from the Toronto side, but Miami’s defense matched even his best efforts.
Miami came out with renewed energy in the second half, turning their long game advantage into serious threats against Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who made two saves in the first half.
His strong performance was an encouraging sign for the Reds despite the loss. TFC had allowed four goals in their last three games entering Friday night.
Westberg’s best effort came in the 73rd minute as Miami forward Ariel Lasseter came through the defense on a close break, only to be stopped cold. Toronto defender Richie Laria was able to clear the follow-up attempt.
Despite having several chances to score throughout the game, both sides converted.
After a temporary opening for 10 minutes, both sides began to open up as the game went smoothly. A Michael Bradley steal led to the game’s first scoring chance, but a strong defensive effort from Miami prevented Toronto from getting a quality shot.
The action continued from there, as both sides began to trade opportunities in the first half.
Both guards had their moments to shine in the opening 45 minutes, as Miami’s Drake Callender made several strong saves, including one on Bernardeschi in the 36th minute. The Toronto forward took a powerful shot that eluded a Miami defender and appeared to be the first goal of the game, but Callender made the save to keep the game scoreless.
TFC was able to threaten Calder with several chances after Higuain’s goal, but none of them came close to tying the game.
The loss marks the end of Toronto’s home schedule for 2022, as the team will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. TFC will play the Philadelphia Union on Oct. 9 in its final regular season outing.