FC Cincinnati welcome Inter Miami to TQL Stadium (4pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on Fox), where both teams will be looking to bounce back. The hosts come into this fixture off the back of two heavy defeats, while the visitors are without a win in three.
Read on for the predictions and betting picks for this Cincinnati vs Inter Miami preview.
Cincinnati fans, having watched their side finish bottom of the Eastern Conference two years on the bounce since stepping up to Major League Soccer, would have been hoping for a turnaround in fortunes this season, though the early signs are that they are to have no such luck. After three matches, Sunday’s hosts find themselves in a familiar position at the foot of the table. They’ve played three, drawn one and lost two.
On the opening day away at Nashville, with exciting new signing Brenner in their ranks, Cincinnati fought hard for a point, showing glimpses of attacking promise in the process. It looked as though they’d laid the foundations from which to build, but in the two matches since, there have been few signs of progression.
A poor back-line often cost the men in orange and blue last term, and there has been little improvement so far this time around. Three games in and Jaap Stam’s side have shipped no fewer than ten goals, conceding at least twice in each of their three matches. Even with the vast attacking talent that the likes of Brenner and Luciano Acosta provide, the team from Nippert Stadium seems destined to fail unless they can tighten up defensively.
Fortunately for the hosts, Sunday’s opposition are something of a wounded animal after going three straight games without tasting victory. It’s been a slow start to life stateside for new manager Phil Neville, who has seen his side win just one of their first five MLS matches.
Unlike the Cincinnati, Miami haven’t been on the end of any real hammerings, but they’re finding it tough to turn the talent in their ranks into goals, and as such, it’s becoming increasingly harder for them to get their noses in front.
Against Montreal last time out, the David Beckham franchise failed in its on-field mission, losing dismally at home to Montreal, failing to score and conceding twice in the process. Going forward, as they mustered a meagre 0.3 expected goals for, Inter Miami struggled, while they found it tough to keep things tight at the back too.
Both teams come into this match struggling to get things going in the final third. Inter Miami have scored just once in their last three games, while Cincinnati haven’t scored a goal in the last 180 minutes of soccer and have scored just two in three this season. This lack of goals perhaps points to a low-scoring affair unfolding at Nippert Stadium. However, the defensive frailties shown by both simply must mean that each side is eying this fixture up as an opportunity to build some confidence in front of goal.
Cincinnati have given a tremendous amount away at the back. Not only have they shipped ten goals in three matches, but they’ve conceded expected goals figures of 3.4, 2.0, 2.8, which shows us that they’ve not been capable of preventing teams from creating goal-scoring opportunities. Such figures bode well for the likes of Inter Miami’s Gonzalo Higuain, who is no stranger to taking advantage of weak rear-guards. Inter Miami also come into this game having given away no shortage of chances in their last couple of fixtures, surrendering 1.3 and 1.4 expected goals in their last two fixtures.
Goals for profit
In the betting, ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ stands out as the best option. As touched on in this preview above, the recent defensive issues bode well for goals bettors. Between them, the pair have conceded an average of 4.73 goals per 90 minutes, while they’ve conceded a combined average of 3.89 expected goals per 90 too. Add in a combined average of 16.37 shots against per MLS match this season and ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ starts to stand out as an appealing bet at the current odds.
Argentine to bag
Gonzalo Higuain hasn’t scored since match-day two, but he has a gilt-edged opportunity to end his relative goal drought here. With an average of 3.25 shots per 90 this season, the marksman hasn’t been short of action in front of goal, while an average individual expected goals per 90 of 0.62 show that he’s getting shots off from decent scoring positions.
Against Cincinnati’s terrible backline, the man who has no fewer than 240 career goals to his name, and who averages a goal every other match in MLS this term, might just be ever so slightly generously priced to get on the score-sheet and is thus worth betting on to do exactly that. These are our predictions and betting picks for this MLS game preview: