Charlotte FC hunting for critical points at Inter Miami

Charlotte FC still control their playoff destiny heading into back-to-back games against already-eliminated Inter Miami to finish the regular season, beginning Wednesday night in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Charlotte (9-11-12, 39 points) begins the night one point beneath the playoff line with a game in hand on all the remaining contenders for the eighth and ninth Eastern Conference playoff spots, and could move into eighth with a victory.

After playing to a 1-5-9 record over a 15-game stretch, Charlotte has won two in a row heading into Wednesday’s clash.

The trip may be too early for Charlotte’s top scorer Karol Swiderski, who played all 90 minutes and scored for Poland on Sunday in a 1-1 draw against Moldova in 2024 European Championship qualifying.

Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio insisted it’s more about how his team approaches the game rather than who plays in it.

“We need to keep doing what we do — with conviction, with quality, with intensity — and be really focused on where we want to go and how we want to go,” he said.

Miami (9-17-6, 33 points) will be without star Lionel Messi, who remains on international duty with Argentina, and while a few others have returned from abroad, coach Tata Martino says he won’t push those players since his team is out of contention.

But Brazilian midfielder Gregore could play in his first game since early March after recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury.

Once seen as among the Herons’ most important players — before the club’s summer spree to sign Messi and his former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba — he officially signed a two-year contract extension with a third-year team option on Monday.

“Inter Miami has given me a lot in my time with the club and I want to repay that faith in me by giving the best of myself at all times,” Gregore said in a team statement.

Team scoring leader Leonardo Campana (nine goals) is back in training after missing two matches, but Josef Martinez (seven goals) and Robert Taylor (four goals) are among those ruled out due to international duty.