Higuain's swansong: Argentinian legend's career comes to an end as Inter Miami fall to defending champions NYCFC in MLS playoffs
- Higuain's career ends with playoff loss
- Moralez, Prereira and Heber lead NYCFC to win
- Defending champions set up face-off with CF Montreal
WHAT HAPPENED? After a dominant first half that saw the ball strike the post twice on one sequence, NYCFC got their deserved goals in the second half.
The first came in the 63rd minute with Gabriel Perreira finishing after combining with Santiago Rodriguez in the box. Captain Maxi Moralez added the second six minutes later, effectively sealing the game for the hosts.
They added one more for good measure on one of Miami's many defensive mishaps, with Heber converting in stoppage time to make the score 3-0, giving NYCFC a bit more momentum as they continue on to defend their crown in the conference semi-finals.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: It was a frustrating night for Inter Miami, who were undone by their own self-destructiveness.
Determined to play out of the back despite being on the road in harsh conditions, Miami's defense was catastrophic at points with poor giveaways and inconsistent marking.
NYCFC goals were always coming, but there was rarely a threat from the Miami attack. Playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo was held completely silent as Phil Neville's side went out with a whimper.
ALL EYES ON: It will be remembered as a sad day for Gonzalo Higuain, whose career will come to an end without an MLS trophy. His legacy will be defined by the games that preceded this one, though, as his magical goalscoring run to end the regular season offered one last glimpse into just how good he was. On this day, though, he couldn't quite do it, with his best chance of the day being ruled out for offside seconds after a lovely one-touch finish. It was just that kind of day for Higuain and Miami.
THE VERDICT: NYCFC aren't the team they were last year, which is why they aren't favorites to win it all. The absence of Taty Castellanos is still being felt, as is the departure of manager Ronny Deila, who left midseason to take over at Standard Liege.
But this NYCFC team still has something to say and still has the talent and know-how to beat anyone in the East. They'll need Talles Magno, their Brazilian superstar in the making, to heal up from his injury, but don't write them off heading into the next round despite the backbreaking midseason departures.
WHAT NEXT FOR NYCFC? After winning this first game in the friendly confines of their second home, Citi Field, NYCFC will now hit the road to face CF Montreal, who took down Orlando City in their opening game.