Atlanta United take on Inter Miami at Mercedes-Benz Arena, where the hosts recently lost for the first time this season (3pm ET Sunday). Both teams are looking to break into the coveted top seven in the Eastern Conference.
It’s been a disappointing month or so for the Five Stripes, who were beaten at home for the first time this campaign by the Columbus Crew last time out, going down to two first half goals. Their misery increased late in the piece when influential attacker Thiago Almada received red in stoppage time. That defeat followed back-to-back ties against Nashville and the New England Revolution, games that followed a US Open Cup exit in Music City. So it’s fair to say that things haven’t exactly gone swimmingly for Gonzalo Pineda’s men.
For the visitors, it’s been a different story of late. When they suffered back-to-back defeats in May, it looked as though the Miami boys could be on the slide, but they’ve since got their acts together, picking up respectable points against both D.C. and Philadelphia. They come into this fixture off the back of consecutive wins, beating the New York Red Bulls, before getting the better of the Portland Timbers. Such results have left Phil Neville’s just a point out of the playoff places, which is where they desperately want to be sitting come the fall.
Home is where the heart is
The Five Stripes were beaten when last involved on home soil, but we shouldn’t read too much into that. After all, it was a marginal defeat, one which involved a reasonably amount of bad luck. They did emerge from the field with a +0.60 expected goals supremacy, which tells us that in terms of scoring opportunities, they probably did enough to warrant a share of the spoils at least.
In general, Pineda’s side has been tough to beat at home. Not only have Atlanta lost just one out of seven at Mercedes-Benz Arena, but they’ve conceded one or less in four out of the other six. Crucially, they have done a solid job of creating more than they give away at home, as an average expected goal difference of +0.48 suggests. Only five teams boast a better home xG difference in the Eastern Conference, while interestingly, only one team has scored more home goals than the Five Stripes, who have notched in six out of seven on their own patch, scoring two or more in five of those six.
Traveling troubles for Inter
Much like Sunday’s hosts, the visitors have nice and sturdy at home, and they’ve collected a more than respectable number of points. In fact, in terms of points accumulated, they’re the third best home team in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, on the road, they’re one of the worst. Neville’s men have picked up just four points on their travels, the third lowest total in the division, while they’ve won just one out of six, losing four of the other five.
Where the problems really lie for the visitors is in the final third, as they’ve scored just three goals on the road, which makes them the worst away-day attacking team in not just the east but the whole of Major League Soccer. They’ve also now gone three straight away games without finding the net.
In Ecuadorian Leonardo Campana, they have a young and potent goal-getter, but the trouble is they’ve got little else by way of goal threat. Gonzalo Higuain is now 34 and not featuring week in, week out, at least not from the start. Nobody else has really stepped up to the plate, which is undoubtedly a worry for the Englishman in charge.
Head-to-head favors hosts ATLUTD
This is another of those fixtures that has been dominated by home teams in recent times. The team playing at home has won each of the last three renewals, with only one of the previous eight meetings going the way of the visitors. Atlanta United have won each of their last two home games against Inter Miami. Interestingly, both teams have found the net in six of the last seven meetings.
Where’s the bet for this ATLUTD vs Inter Miami Preview?
The hosts are big favorites ahead of this clash, and that’s hard to argue with. Both teams have flaws, but the attacking quality that the Five Stripes can provide at home, even without Almada in the side, is greater than what co-owner David Beckham’s Inter Miami can come up with on the road. It is this gap in offensive quality that can make all the difference.
However, instead of simply betting on the home, betting on the hosts to emerge victorious from a game where both teams score looks to be the better option. For a start, Pineda’s men have made a habit of winning but conceding on home soil, doing that in all of their wins at Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Now, this bet may go against some of the stats above, particularly those involving the visitors lack of attacking power on the road, and make no mistake about it, Inter Miami have struggled for goals on their travels, but they have a good record of scoring against Atlanta, plus they should be buoyed by the fact they’ve found the net in three games straight.
This does not however negate the fact that they are up against a side that can better them in terms of xG for, shots for and goals for, so a bet on the hosts to outscore their visitors is the way to go. As far as betting predictions go, that means this is our only betting pick for this MLS matchup preview: