Coming off its first loss since June to Atlanta United, Inter Miami returned to DRV PNK Stadium to face off against Toronto FC. With Lionel Messi, who had been out of the lineup for the last two games due to international play and rest, Miami defeated Toronto 4-0.
Heading into the match, Miami made a change in its system, moving towards a lineup that featured five backs as it sought to free up space for Jordi Alba and Deandre Yedlin and allow them to push the pace. The change seemed to work, allowing Miami to put pressure on Toronto and create several good shots early for Messi and Joseph Martinez, but they were not capitalized on.
While the change had its offensive benefits, it caused early struggles on the defensive end, leaving open lanes for Toronto to get some breakaway chances. This included a moment around the 12th minute when Toronto’s Deandre Kerr had two shot attempts on goal, the second of which bounced off the inside of the right post and out.
While this happened several more times, great plays from defender Tomas Aviles in Miami’s back line as well as some sloppy play from Toronto allowed Miami to prevent Toronto from scoring.
Concern arose late into the first half for Miami as Alba and Messi suffered injuries and did not play for the remainder of the match.
Miami coach Gerardo Martino noted after the game that neither injury appeared to be serious and suggested that they seemed to be fatigue related.
Robert Taylor, who subbed in for Messi, relayed that Miami “had to step up.” He, along with several others from Miami did just that.
In the absence of Messi and Alba, Miami’s depth and youth came out to play, breaking the game open. In the 48th minute, Tomás Romero broke up a cross, but the ball ricocheted, and Facundo Farias sent a strike into the back of the goal to put Miami up 1-0, igniting a crowd that had gone silent due to Messi’s injury and sending Miami into the locker room with momentum.
In the 54th minute, Taylor sent an absolute beauty of a goal to give Miami a comfortable cushion at 2-0. After receiving the pass, Taylor took the ball across the outside of the penalty box and struck across his body and into the left corner of the net.
Miami’s offense did not stop there, as in the 73rd minute, 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi led a run outpacing Toronto’s defense before finishing it off into the left corner of the goal.
Then, in the 86th minute, Taylor sent another strike off the chip from Farias to put the finishing touches on Miami’s rout of Toronto.
The win moves Miami up the Eastern Conference now to 13th but, just five points behind DC United, who currently sits at ninth and holds the final playoff spot in the East. Miami will travel to face Orlando City on Sunday but will be without Messi and Alba as Martino confirmed.