Inter Miami keeps slim playoff hopes alive without injured Lionel Messi by squeaking out dramatic 1-1 draw with NYCFC: Tomas Aviles’ clutch header in 95th helps Herons avoid costly loss

  • Santiago Rodriguez scored the only goal for NYFC in the 77 minute of gameplay
  • Inter Miami will have four games left to fight for postseason qualification 
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Inter Miami pulled off a last second goal to secure a 1-1 draw in a barn-burner against NYFC as Lionel Messi once again sat out the game with an injury.

Tomas Aviles was able to bring Miami back from the jaws of defeat after putting a header in the back of the net on corner kick in the 95 minute.

Santiago Rodriguez’s shot that nearly secured NYFC a pivotal win beat goalkeeper Drake Callender to put the ball in the upper-right corner from what appeared to be a nearly impossible angle.

Miami nearly came mere inches from securing the win in stoppage time as only moments after Aviles secured the goal to tie the game when a shot from David Ruiz hit the underside of the crossbar before nearly finding it’s way across the line as it bounced to the ground. 

The 36-year-old Messi has now missed four of Inter Miami’s last five matches, plus another for Argentina in that span because of what was first called fatigue — by both his club and country — and has evolved from there.

The injured Messi looks on during the first half against New York City FC at DRV PNK Stadium

Attacking midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (L) scored the lone goal for NYFC in the 77 minute

Attacking midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (L) scored the lone goal for NYFC in the 77 minute

The only game he didn’t miss during that stretch was a 37-minute appearance against Toronto on September 20, and he had to leave that match before halftime because of what is believed to be a hamstring issue. 

Saturday’s absence came with Inter Miami entering the night five points behind NYCFC with two matches in hand.

Inter Miami entered the night in control of its playoff destiny, trying to make a push for one of the nine playoff spots out of the Eastern Conference.

After Saturday, the team will have only four MLS matches remaining. And Messi’s status for them remains a mystery, even as some fans pay hundreds of dollars — or more — to attend a match with hopes of seeing him play.

As things currently sit Miami is still in 13th place in the MLS Eastern Conference and are four points shy of being at least tied for the final spot in the playoffs- not counting goal difference.

Montreal and Chicago are currently tied for the final spot in the playoffs and Montreal is in possession of the tiebreaker as things stand at this moment.

Miami will play Chicago in their next game on Wednesday October 4, in what both teams will certainly be considering a must-win matchup as the season dies down. 

More to follow…