As they look to continue making up for a weak start to the campaign, Inter Miami play host to Columbus Crew at DRV PNK Stadium on Saturday evening. The visitors go in search of just a second win in nine matches.
This will be the first meeting between the pair, who both have work to do if they want to feature in the postseason.
Inter Miami – Making steady progress
Not that long ago, Inter Miami seemed to be going nowhere fast, while fledgling manager Phil Neville appeared to be under heavy pressure, though things have quickly turned around at DRV PNK Stadium. In just a few months, the franchise part-owned by the iconic David Beckham has climbed from the foot of the Eastern Conference table to 10th and are now just four points short of the all-important top seven.
Neville’s men have somewhat surprisingly lost just one of their previous nine matches, while they’re now unbeaten in five at home, which bodes well ahead of a fixture against struggling visitors, who’ve been finding life on the road very tough indeed.
Expected Line-Up: Marsman – Gonzalez, Figal, Makoun – Leerdam, Gregore, Matuidi, Morgan, Shea – Higuain, Robinson.
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Columbus Crew – Upturn in form short lived
When they got the better of Cincinnati a fortnight ago, Caleb Porter’s men would’ve been hoping to progress and get themselves back into the coveted top seven in the Eastern COnference, though it was back to square one next time out, as they lost away at Orlando, conceding three goals in the process.
Things really aren’t going well for the current MLS Cup holders. They’ve won just one of their last eight, losing each of the other seven. In the last few weeks, offensive potency has been evident, scoring five in three, but a lack of defensive solidity really is hampering Columbus’ progress. The injury to marauding defensive midfielder Artur, who has now been out since the middle of June, really is starting to prove costly, while other injuries to key players such as goal-getter Gyasi Zardes haven’t exactly helped.
Expected Line-Up: Room – Afful, Wormgoor, Keita, Francis – Nagbe, Etienne, Zelarayan, Santos, Matan – Wright-Phillips.
Expert Pick #1 – Inter Miami to Win @-105
A few months ago, and the hosts would’ve been hard to support at odds far greater than -105, but as things stand, given the recent efforts of this pair, the Miami boys look a good bet to emerge victorious. For starters, they’re the ones full of confidence right now, plus the visitors are missing two key players, the significance of which is undeniable.
In terms of overall home records, Inter Miami don’t have one of the best on offer in the east, far from it, but in terms of recent home records, they really are up there with the big boys. They’ve won each of their last four at home, scoring ten and conceding five in process. They’ve also bettered their opponents in terms of expected goals in each of those four, producing an average xG difference of +0.50, which is very respectable. In contrast, Columbus have lost each of their last four on the road, scoring three, conceding nine, recording an average expected goal difference of -0.60. On this basis, a home win is the bet.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 2.5 Goals @-105
As a secondary option, ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ is a direction to go in. There’s been no shortage of goals in recent matches at DRV PNK Stadium, with at least three being scored in each of Inter Miami’s last four at home, as well as in seven of the last eight. There’s also been an average of 2.75 expected goals created in each of Inter Miami’s and The Crew’s last ten respective home and away matches combined.
Expert Pick #3 – Robbie Robinson to Score @+200
Without being tremendously prolific, Inter Miami forward Robbie Robinson has enjoyed himself this campaign, scoring four MLS goals so far, which is a very solid return considering that he’s only featured 12 times, making nine starts, seven of which have arrived since July. In the absence of Rodolfo Pizarro, who misses out thanks to international duty, Robinson, who averages a very pleasing 0.40 xG per 90 minutes, rates as a good bet to find the net against a Columbus’ back-line that has been anything but hard to breach in recent times.
It seems strange to be calling a game featuring the current MLS Cup holders as a big opportunity for an Inter Miami win, but such has been the poor form of Caleb Porter’s men. Columbus have struggled on the road, they’re missing two big players, and are in no fit position to boss a game against in-form hosts. Goals seem likely, but if you’re looking to nail the winner of this fixture, then stick with the hosts, whose recent efforts at home have been strong.