Inter Miami vs NYCFC Predictions and Picks: Messi Absence Could Spell Disaster

Inter Miami need wins badly, but unfortunately for them, midseason savior Lionel Messi might not suit up. With that in mind, our MLS picks are targeting an NYCFC market for tonight's best betting value.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2023 9:30 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Mounsef Bakrar MLS
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

After their defeat in the US Open Cup Final, Inter Miami hopes to have Lionel Messi back on the pitch when they resume their chase for a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs against NYCFC on Saturday night. 

Their 2-1 loss to Houston on Wednesday night saw the fixture congestion finally catch up to them, as they looked lifeless at times and were clearly missing the spark Messi and Jordi Alba bring to the team. While Alba will miss out, Messi could be available for a team that desperately needs points to stay alive.

Those points would have to come at the expense of an NYCFC squad that holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the weekend. They’ve taken advantage of a long stretch of matches at home, playing five straight in front of their fans and taking 11 of a possible 15 points. Now they look to get just their second away win of the season.

It’s all to play for on Saturday, September 30 and we help you find the best value in our Inter Miami vs. NYCFC MLS betting picks and predictions.    

Inter Miami vs NYCFC best odds

Inter Miami vs NYCFC picks and predictions

Betting on MLS teams, Inter Miami especially, can be difficult. There is so much randomness involved, often due to the long distances traveled and the fatigue that sets in as the season goes along.

Look at Inter Miami’s match with Houston. Yes, it wasn’t technically an MLS match, but it involved two league outfits. Houston struggled all season long on the road, especially when they’d played multiple times in a row away from home. But they had more energy than Miami on Wednesday night, against a side that looked like their legs had finally gone.

One huge benefit of NYCFC playing five straight matches at home is that they’re one of the more well-rested sides in the league. And they’ve used that to their advantage, getting big wins at home against CF Montreal, Orlando City, and Toronto FC. They also took points off Vancouver and NYRB.

But it’s also worth noting they’ve allowed just one goal over that five-match streak — and that came from a penalty. NYCFC is doing a terrific job limiting shot attempts, and they’ve done a great job at holding leads of late.

Why is that important? Because, while it seems like NYCFC have been awful away from home with just one win this season, they’ve actually had three away fixtures where they’ve led after halftime and failed to get the win. And after losing six of their first eight away in all competitions, they’ve taken a result in six of their last eight.

Messi is once again a game-time decision against NYCFC, as he continues to deal with a leg injury. Whatever it is was serious enough to keep him from even being on the bench for the USOC final. At 36 years old, he’s putting more wear and tear on his body than ever before when you consider the travel, the short match window, and the Miami weather.

It’s unlikely he will play on Saturday, and Miami simply won’t have enough without him to get the win. They exerted immense energy to try to come back on Wednesday, even after they were already drained. NYCFC has had a full week off and will be ready to go. 

They’re facing a team defending well lately, and if they turn the ball over in the midfield like they did against Houston they’ll get burned by an NYCFC team that ranks third in MLS in successful tackle rate. NYCFC has outstanding individual dribblers, and their 136 carries into the box this season rank eighth-best in the league.

I could see this ending in a draw, so I’m avoiding the 3-way line and instead, I’m going with NYCFC to win with a draw returning your stake. The price of +135 at Tonybet is far too good to pass up with that risk removed, and it’s a strong play against a depleted and exhausted team. 

My best bet: NYCFC draw no bet (+135 at TonyBet)

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Inter Miami vs NYCFC same-game parlay

NYCFC double chance (-150)
Bakrar o0.5 shots on goal (-150)
Under 4 goals (-250)

Our same-game parlay will take a bit of a deviation from our best bet, as we can’t parlay a draw no bet wager. Instead, we’ll take the NYCFC double chance at -150 over at bet365.

In addition, we’re going to add two legs to the parlay. First, NYCFC’s going to win if they can capitalize on the mistakes from Inter Miami. Those mistakes of late have led to multiple counter-attacks, and each of Miami’s last five opponents has seen at least one shot on goal from opposing strikers on them. Take Mounsef Bakrar to continue that trend.

Finally, I’m expecting no more than three goals on Saturday. Honestly, I think this ends 1-0 or 2-0, but I want to protect against a late goal if Inter Miami are pushing hard to get a result and leave themselves vulnerable at the back. Take the Under 4 to close out the parlay. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

Not intended for use in MA.
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Inter Miami vs NYCFC side and Over/Under analysis

Messi or no Messi, the money is still coming in on Inter Miami. While a few books have them priced at plus-odds, FanDuel and others still have them at around -105 or -110 to win on the 3-way line. NYCFC are offering as high as +250, although that’s a far cry from the +475 they were at last week. The draw is also paying quite well with a price of +280 on offer.

I’d lean NYCFC, especially at that price if playing the 3-way line, but as we discussed we’re taking the draw no bet to limit our risk of a draw. Inter Miami are desperate but tired, and they’re making quite a few mistakes. NYCFC are in great form, are playing well with and without the ball, and have fresher legs.

It’s been rare of late to see the Over 2.5 not massively juiced for an Inter Miami game, but at -127 it’s actually still playable. You’ll want to shop around, but the price at bet365 is the best on offer as of Friday morning. The line has been fluctuating quite a bit over the past few days, coming down a bit after Wednesday night’s defeat for Inter Miami.

Without knowing if Messi will play, I’m not touching the total pre-match. Once again, there are too many unknown variables in play. Additionally, only one of NYCFC’s last five matches have seen three goals, and there have been two or fewer scored in nine of their last 12. Inter Miami have scored just two goals in the past two matches without Messi, and will likely struggle here to do so.  

Inter Miami vs NYCFC game info

Location: Inter Miami CF Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Date: Saturday, September 30, 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Apple TV
Weather: 85F, 7mph wind, 80% humidity, 40% POP

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Inter Miami vs NYCFC key injuries

Inter Miami: Jordi Alba D (Out), Lionel Messi F (Doubtful), Corentin Jean F (Out). 
NYCFC: Maxi Moralez F (Out), Keaton Peaks M (Doubtful), Richard Ledezma M (Doubtful). 

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