Inter Miami look to bounce back in the MLS after tasting defeat in Chicago last time out, and they will do so in front of a home crowd, welcoming DC United to DRV PNK Stadium (8pm ET Saturday; TV: Live on CBS 4, UniMas).
Will the return home spark improvements? Or will the visitors find improvements of their own after losing two on the bounce? Hopefully this preview and our predictions will hold the answers.
In and out from Inter
When Inter Miami returned from Cincinnati with all three points a fortnight ago, head coach Phill Neville would have been looking for his side to build momentum, though a step forward was once again followed by a step back as the boys from Miami tasted defeat in Chicago, failing to score in the process. It is early days but things are very much starting to take shape and those in charge at the top at DRV PNK Stadium might not be too pleased with what they are seeing.
Despite having what should be a great combo of youthful exuberance and winning experience, Inter Miami are struggling massively for consistency. We are now seven games in and Neville’s men are yet to register back-to-back successes, while they’ve won just twice. What is particularly alarming is the fact that the boys that play all in white are yet to win at home. In fact, they’ve picked up just one out of a possible nine points in their own backyard. Improvement is certainly needed.
Fortunately for Saturday’s hosts, they’re not the only ones who’re struggling to get going. DC come into this match off the back of two losses, while they currently sit in a lowly 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They too have won just two out of seven since the start of the season, though unlike Miami, who have at least ground out a few draws in their failure to get as many wins as required. DC have been far too easy to beat, losing each of the five games that they have not emerged victorious from.
Things haven’t exactly been superb for DC at home, but where they’ve really struggled is on the road. Saturday’s visitors travel to Miami having lost three out of three away from home this time around, scoring twice and conceding a worrying total of eight goals in the process. They need to tighten up at the back and improve offensively. It’s not just on the road where DC have found it tough to impose themselves. Their last two matches have been on home soil and they failed to find the net in both, meaning that they are now averaging just 0.71 goals for per 90 minutes overall. That needs to change.
What do the numbers say?
If we scratch beneath the surface, it’s easy to feel that DC have been a little unlucky in recent weeks. They have lost each of their last two by a goal to nil but bettered their opponents in terms of xG on both occasions, emerging from their game against Orlando with a positive difference of +0.6, as well as +0.4 against Philadelphia. The fact that they produced a combined total of 2.4 expected goals for in those two matches suggests that they were unfortunate not to score a couple of goals.
Overall, DC haven’t really benefitted from the rub of the green at all this season, as they’ve only been bettered in terms of expected goals in one of their last six. Expected goals certainly aren’t everything, but they do give a clear indication of what teams are creating and allowing their opponents to create, and in that sense, DC have been nowhere near as bad as results would have us believe.
As far as Inter Miami are concerned, their xG numbers reflect their position really. The fact that they’ve drawn two, lost two and won two is about right.
Where’s the bet?
On their own patch, Miami were always going to be favorites for this fixture, but they look short at odds of -133. After all, they are yet to win at home. Also, if we compare their expected goals numbers with DC’s, something doesn’t quite add up in the betting. At present, Phil Neville’s men, who are just two points ahead of their visitors in the Eastern Conference table, have an average expected goal difference of +0.06, while DC’s is +0.03, so there really is nothing in it in that respect. Interestingly, DC come out on top slightly in terms of shots, averaging 12.8 per 90, compared to 9.7 per 90 averaged by Inter. Such a stat is far from majorly important, but it again showcases that the visitors have little to fear.
In short, neither side has impressed this season, but DC have performed as though they have better results in them, and a match away at DRV PNK Stadium represents a better opportunity to pick up points than the early moneyline suggests. On this basis, a play on ‘DC Draw No Bet’ is merited. So the conclusion of this preview’s game predictions is this one pick: