Inter Miami’s playoff hopes are hanging by a thread ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati, but the possible return of Lionel Messi gives the MLS odds a different look.
Messi has missed the last four games with a leg injury, and the Herons are winless (two ties, two losses) over that stretch. That includes a second-half collapse in Wednesday’s 4-1 setback against the Chicago Fire.
Amid all the Messi headlines leading up to this showdown, FC Cincinnati are quietly cruising towards the postseason with lofty expectations. The Orange and Blue rested a string of starters in the midweek loss to the New York Bed Bulls, but they’re expected to field a stronger lineup here in one of their final playoff tune-ups.
Read on for our free Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati picks and predictions ahead of this October 7 matchup.
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati best odds
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati picks and predictions
There’s optimism in the Inter Miami camp that Lionel Messi can feature on Saturday – either as a starter or off the bench – and the hosts are in desperate need of a spark heading into their last three games of the regular season. But I’m leaning towards the FC Cincinnati props, with the visitors looking to stay sharp despite wrapping up the No.1 seed.
The Orange and Blue found the net three times on the road in Toronto last weekend, and I’m picking them to score at least two goals at DRV PNK Stadium in what should be a high-scoring battle.
FC Cincinnati’s key man Luciano Acosta was one of several regulars who started on the bench on Wednesday night, and that should mean fresh legs for him here. The attacking trio of Acosta, Aaron-Salem Boupendza, and Brandon Vazquez has combined for 29 league goals this year.
It also helps that they’re facing an Inter Miami defense that was picked apart by the Fire in midweek, with all four Chicago goals coming in the second half. The hosts’ backline will be without the suspended Tomas Aviles, and possibly left-back Jordi Alba.
The formbook suggests goals will be on the menu in this late-season clash, and I’m wagering on the FC Cincinnati forwards putting on a clinic.
My best bet: FC Cincinnati Over 1.5 Goals (+144 at TonyBet)
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Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati same-game parlay
The visitors have an Argentine star of their own, and Acosta is a natural choice to pair with the Over on 1.5 FC Cincinnati goals. He’s scored 16 MLS goals this season, and The Orange and Blue’s best moves flow through him. I like the odds for Acosta to get on the score sheet here.
Given the end-to-end nature of previous matchups between these teams, I see Inter Miami creating plenty of chances too, and I’m bumping up the SGP odds with the BTTS prop.
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Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati side and Over/Under analysis
The mere possibility of Messi returning for this must-win contest is enough to earn Inter Miami the favorites tag, but don’t overlook the hosts’ lengthy injury list that extends far beyond just their Argentine superstar.
The Herons will be going all out for the three points to keep their season alive, but this FC Cincinnati side (at full strength) has ruled the Eastern Conference this year. Only Orlando City have picked up more points on the road this season than The Orange and Blue.
FC Cincinnati got the better of Inter Miami in the pre-Messi era with a 1-0 win in early April, but these sides looked well matched in a 3-3 classic in the U.S. Open Cup this summer.
Four of the last five meetings between these teams have hit the Over on 3.5 total goals and three of them have gone Over 5.5, including a 4-4 thriller last season. As a result, there’s not a lot of standalone value in the BTTS prop or picking the Over on 2.5 goals.
If Messi plays, that unlocks another dimension for this Inter Miami attack. I’d expect that to nudge this contest even further in the direction of a goalfest.
Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati game info
|DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL
|Saturday, October 7, 2023
|7:30 p.m. ET
|High 70s, humid, 50% chance of thunderstorms
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Inter Miami vs FC Cincinnati key injuries
Inter Miami: Lionel Messi F (Questionable), Jordi Alba D (Questionable), Leonardo Campana F (Questionable), Ian Fray D (Out), Jake LaCava F (Out), Franco Negri D (Out), Gregore M (Out), Corentin Jean F (Out), Tomas Aviles D (Out – Suspended).
FC Cincinnati: Stiven Jimenez M (Out), Arquimides Ordonez F (Out).