Inter Miami vs Chicago Predictions, Picks, Betting Preview: Fire Look Hot

Phil NevilleInter Miami begin what will be their third MLS Campaign, and they’ll kick things off with a home fixture against the Chicago Fire, who’ve made some eye-catching moves during the off-season (6pm ET Saturday).

Will either team get off to a flying start at DRV PNK Stadium? Let’s find out with our matchup preview, predictions and betting picks.

What’s happened over the off-season?

After finishing in a disappointing 11th place in the east last season, failing to make the postseason, Inter Miami could have been expected to go after some big signings during the off-season, but such developments haven’t happened.

The capture of experienced full-back of Deandre Yedlin, who has made 71 appearances for the US men’s national team, is noteworthy, though it lacks the glitz and glamor of some of the other arrivals across the league. Experienced 28-year-old Jean Mota, who made 240 appearances in midfield for Santos in Brazil’s top flight, has also arrived, while the most-costly addition to Phil Neville’s squad was Colombian winger Emerson Rodríguez. The 21-year-old scored eight goals and produced eight assists in 55 appearances for Millonarios back in his homeland.

Going the other way, influential defensive leader Leandro González Pírez has returned to Argentina, linking up with giants River Plate, while Lewis Morgan has joined the Red Bulls.

Chicago’s summer has been slightly more high profile, at least in terms of arrivals. The Fire made plenty of noise bringing in Kacper Przybylko, who scored 40 goals in 96 appearances for the Philadelphia Union, while the addition of 21-year-old Argentine talent Federico Navarro shows no shortage of intent either. However, the most notable piece of business done, perhaps across the whole of Major League Soccer this summer, was the Fire’s signing of Xherdan Shaqiri, who most recently produced two goals and three assists in 11 appearances for Lyon in France. The Swiss international provides a combination of ability and experience rarely found in this league, and if he can stay fit and find his level on a consistent basis, then coach Hendrickson has a seriously dangerous weapon at his disposal.

Head-to-head record

This will be just the third meeting between Inter Miami and the Chicago Fire. At the start of the previous campaign, in front of a home crowd, the Fire secured a 1-0 victory over Phil Neville’s men, coming out on top thanks to a second-half strike from Luka Stojanovic, who recently swapped MLS for the Saudi Pro League.

Later in the season, the Miami boys took their revenge, winning by three goals to two at DRV PNK Stadium. In what was a thrilling end-to-end encounter, the Herons came from a goal down at half-time to emerge victorious, courtesy of a late strike from Mexican Rodolfo Pizarro, who has since left for Monterrey. On that occasion, we saw the offensive quality of both, but also no shortage of defensive frailties, and it will be interesting to see if such frailties remain.

Offensive improvements needed

Both teams will be looking to do better in the final third this season, that’s for sure. During the previous campaign, Inter Miami notched just 36 regular-season goals, meaning that they scored an average of just 1.05 per 90 minutes. Hardly anything to write home about. It was a similar story for the Fire, who also scored 36 goals in 34 regular-season fixtures. Somewhat unsurprisingly, this pair had the undesirable tag of being the joint-lowest scorers in the Eastern Conference, while only one Western Conference team scored fewer goals.

Betting this fixture

In the early betting lines, Inter Miami, as the hosts, are down as moneyline favorites at odds of +115 with the leading American offshore oddsmakers, though while home advantage isn’t to be overlooked, they look slightly short. After all, it’s not as if they were much better than the Fire last season.

It is never easy forming an opinion this early in the campaign, especially when a ball is yet to be kicked, though looking at the lines, it’s easy to fancy the visitors, who’ve undoubtedly made the greater headway in terms of transfers. Shaqiri and Przybylko really do add that missing offensive quality, while it’s hard to say that the hosts have tackled that problem.

The two teams were quite evenly matched last season, but now that the visitors have what appears to be extra firepower, they are easy to fancy at generous-looking odds, especially with the insurance that ‘Draw No Bet’ provides.

Pole to pounce

In Kacper Przybylko, Chicago Fire have themselves a readymade goal-getter, one who knows how to find the net at this level. A scorer at this venue last season, the Polish forward averages 0.46 goals per 90 minutes in MLS, while he also averages a very solid 0.39 expected goals per game, firing off an average of 2.56 shots too. At odds of +215, the striker, who will undoubtedly be eager to make a fast start for his new club, is fancied to maintain his 100% scoring record at DRV PNK Stadium. So these are the betting picks and predictions against the bookies for this MLS game preview:

  • Chicago Fire Draw No Bet @ +143 with Bovada.
  • Kacper Przybylko to score at any time @ +215 with EveryGame or Bovada.