Mikey Ambrose and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez each posted first-half goals and Inter Miami CF held on to beat visiting FC Cincinnati 2-1 on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to earn a playoff appearance during its expansion MLS season.
Amid a consistent driving rain and whipping winds, Miami broke out with Ambrose’s goal in the 19th minute and Gonzalez Pirez’s tally in the 23rd. The victory and favorable results elsewhere on Decision Day in MLS vaulted Miami — co-owned by former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star David Beckham — above the playoff line and into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
After fellow first-year club Nashville SC clinched a playoff spot in recent days, Inter Miami became the seventh club in MLS history to record a postseason spot in its expansion campaign. Miami had dropped its previous two contests and three of the last four, but came through when needed most on Sunday.
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FC Cincinnati ended another dismal season with a fifth consecutive defeat. Owner of the fewest points in MLS, FC Cincy did make things interesting with Joseph-Claude Gyau’s goal in the 66th minute to put a little heat on the home side.
Miami was relentless from the beginning, often applying pressure in the attacking-third. Inter was rewarded through Ambrose’s first MLS goal less than 20 minutes in. After Miami’s corner was kicked back out of the box, Ambrose collected the ball and drilled it home from well outside the 18-yard box to open the scoring.
It was just four minutes later that Miami made it 2-0. On Lewis Morgan’s corner, Gonzalez Pirez contorted his body enough to leap above the crowd and head the ball over and past Cincinnati keeper Spencer Richey.
FCC showed life in the second half and snapped a three-match scoring drought when Gyau seemed to stun Miami keeper John McCarthy with his strike. Cincinnati then caught a big break when Miami’s
Andres Reyes was sent off following his second yellow card of the match in the 88th minute, leaving the home side down a man.
However, the visitors were unable to convert with the equalizer even while keeping play in the final third.