The Columbus Crew look to recover after a heavy defeat last time out. At home, they will take on an Inter Miami side that is badly out of form (6pm ET Saturday; Live on TV: ESPN+, Bally Sports Great Lakes, SiriusXM FC). Will either team be able to collect a much-needed three points? Hopefully this preview will answer that question and more with our MLS game predictions and picks.
The Crew come into this game off the back of defeat last time out, losing by three goals to nil away against the Philadelphia Union, and as the result suggests, it was a deserved defeat. However, in general, things have gone better for Caleb Porter’s men of late. The current MLS Cup holders have lost just one of their last five in all competitions, recently beating play-off contenders Montreal at home, as well as defeating Mexican champions Cruz Azul in the Campeones Cup.
While Columbus has moved in the right direction during the last few weeks, the Inter Miami franchise continues to go backwards on the pitch. It is now five games since Phil Neville’s men last collected three points, which is disappointing, but not as disappointing as the fact that they have now lost five on the spin, scoring just one goal in the process.
Steady at home
It’s been anything but a vintage campaign for Caleb Porter and his troops, who really would’ve been hoping to follow up last season’s outstanding achievement with another solid season, but at least they’ve started to assert themselves at home, where they were superb en route to winning MLS Cup last term.
The Crew come here unbeaten in four at home (in all competitions), all four of which they have won, scoring a pleasing nine goals, conceding four in the process. Offensively, with Gyasi Zardes now fit and raring to go, Saturday’s hosts look much more threatening, while they’ve tightened up at the back too, conceding no more than a single goal in any of their last three at this Lower Field venue. Such numbers bode well ahead of a game against an Inter Miami side that can’t buy goals right now.
Goals hard to come by
Right from the word go this season, the Miami boys haven’t been easy to beat. Rarely have they been battered, even away from home, where they have the second-best defensive record in the Eastern Conference, but a lack of offensive firepower has meant that for long spells, positive results have eluded them. Phil Neville’s men are going through one such fruitless spell at present, and it is largely down to their problems in the final third.
Saturday’s visitors arrive here having scored just one in their last five, notching no goals in their last three games. In each of those three matches, all of which have come on the road, Miami have kept themselves in the game, conceding no more than a single goal, but they’ve just not fired going forward, and if you’re not getting the ball in the back of the net at least semi-regularly, then wins are always going to be hard to come by. Only one team in the east has scored fewer travelling goals than Neville’s men, who’ve scored only eight in 14 away from the comforts of DRV PNK Stadium.
One month on
It was only a month ago that the pair met in the reverse fixture, and that game went the way of Inter Miami, who despite their struggles in the offensive part of the field, got the job done, winning by a goal to nil. In a tight game, one that was largely devoid of huge goal-scoring opportunities, there was little between the teams, who tussled somewhat tentatively for much of the contest. A 16th minute goal from the vastly experienced Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored 58% of Inter Miami’s MLS goals this season, was enough to separate the two, though on the overall balance of play, a tie wouldn’t have been unfair on either.
Where’s the bet this time?
Despite losing the reverse fixture in September, the Crew approach this one hot in the betting lines at general odds of -130. It’s not exactly hard to see why either. At the end of the day, Saturday’s hosts have been performing well at home, at both ends of the pitch, and with their number one striker now fit and scoring again, they simply offer much more of a threat than their visitors, who struggle to create and who rely far too heavily on the veteran Higuain.
It’s easy to make a case for the home win but taking the hosts to get the job done coupled with ‘under 3.5 goals’ makes the most sense with the betting odds the way that they currently are.
There’s a vast difference between what the Crew have done offensively at home and what the visitors have produced on the road, there’s no getting away from it, what with Porter’s men having scored 23 times at home, and Neville’s men scoring just eight on the road. The hosts also boast an average of 1.33 expected goals for at home, which while not amazing, is far better than the 0.74 averaged by Inter Miami away from home.
However, for all their offensive problems, the visitors do know how to avoid a battering, losing by a goal to nil in each of their last three away games. Moreover, less than four goals have been scored in all but one of their 14 travelling fixtures in Major League Soccer this season, so we shouldn’t expect the hosts to run riot. As a result the predictions and betting picks for this preview look like this: