US Open Cup: Why is the final played at Inter Miami’s stadium?
Inter Miami face Houston Dynamo in their second final of the year. Messi and company face a new challenge against a rival that has always given them problems.
Inter Miami play host to the Houston Dynamo at DVR PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday evening. The Texans and their opponents from from Florida will be battling it out for the US Open Cup - a chance for Inter Miami to lift their second trophy of the season and in franchise history after completely revamping the squad a few months ago.
In the hours running up to kick-off, there is still some uncertainty as to whether the hosts will be able count on two of their key players: Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba; but the Garzas will have an indisputable point in their favor, which is they will have home advantage. Around 21,000 Inter Miami fans will be cheering on their team from the stands, an advantage that not all finals grant.
After rejecting the option of moving the game to a venue with a larger capacity such as the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, DVR PNK Stadium will host one of the most important matches in the club’s history. With qualification for the MLS playoffs on the horizon, the priority tight now is to win another trophy - and their fans can undoubtedly help them.
Why is Inter Miami the home team?
Like many of the domestic cup-format tournaments around the world, the US Open Cup begins with a series of qualifiers between teams from lower level and amateur categories. Most of the big MLS teams enter at the Third Round, playing against the best geographically-suited winners from the previous round.
Teams like Inter Miami and Houston Dynamo will have gone through a prior draw process in which not only the rivals are decided, but also home advantage will be determined. A ‘bracket’ is generated with individual sides from all of the four regions crossing each other when they classify.
As it is a mirror format, let’s say, the teams on the left side must face each other in any round prior to the final (as long as they qualify) while with the rivals on the other side of the bracket will only be able to meet in a hypothetical final - that is what happened with Inter Miami and Houston Dynamo. As the initial draw determines which side of the draw will act as home team in the final, Inter Miami were the beneficiaries of chance on this particular occasion.