Nothing like the flair for the dramatic. Less than a minute away from forging their third tie along with one win during an impressive four-game stretch against the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Inter Miami soccer team and their ardent fans got a whole lot more than that on Sunday night.
Hosting a Nashville SC team that is considered one of the best defensive teams in the league and a fellow expansion team that Miami had yet to score a single goal against over the first five games they had played, that all came to a crashing and euphoric end.
After “finally” scoring on Nashville 15 minutes into the second half to tie the game at one, Miami’s Federico “Fede” Higuain and Indiana Vassilev, two players who came off the bench, teamed up for a gorgeous goal with less than a minute to go in stoppage time that gave Miami a 2-1 victory over Nashville and sent the crowd of 14,062 at DRV <FZ,1,0,18>PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale into a wild frenzy.
Shortly after the final whistle had blown, Miami players took off to go celebrate in front of the north stands with their most loyal of fans, nicknamed La Familia, who let off some pink dust in the stands to fortify the celebration.
“When a team scores late on, I think it is a great sign for everybody,” said Miami head coach Phil Neville. “It’s a great sign for everybody inside the club that we are headed in the right direction. We knew that the substitutions were going to win the game for us today, and that’s how it played out.”
The win gives Miami — a team that has been mired in last place in the 14-team Eastern Conference for most of the season — a 2-0-2 record over its past four games and a 4-8-4 mark on a season that reached its low point two weeks ago when they were embarrassed at home by a 5-0 loss to first-place New England.
The eight points accumulated (three for a win, one for a tie) over these past four games and the three on Sunday night lifted Miami out of last place for the first time since early in the season. Miami, which now has 17 points but is still well out of the seventh and final playoff spot, will hit the road to take on New York City on Saturday.
With the seconds of stoppage time ticking away, it looked like there would be no winner on this night. But Higuain, whose younger brother Gonzalo had scored the game-tying goal in the game’s 60th minute, had other ideas.
From more than 30 yards out on the right, he launched a high crossing pass in front of the net. Vassilev beat a defender to the ball and headed it into the right side of the net.
Less than 30 seconds later, the whistle blew and Miami, which had not won a home game in front of its fans until eight days earlier, another 2-1 come-from-behind win over Montreal, has now won two straight at home.
“Obviously really, really exciting from a personal standpoint but I think today it was about our team, because our team deserved this win because we were the better team,” said Vassilev. “Hopefully we can keep this all going.”