With a spot in the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs secured, Orlando City now turns their attention to holding onto second place in the East when they host Inter Miami on Sunday — without Lionel Messi.
The Lions saw their six-match unbeaten run come to an end with a 2-0 defeat to NYCFC at the midweek, but they were still able to lock up their spot in the playoffs due to other results around the league.
With five matches to go, including fixtures with Nashville and New England, they can’t afford to drop any points with Columbus just two behind.
Messi’s scar tissue problem will keep him from playing, but Tata Martino is likely to rotate quite a bit with an eye on silverware in Wednesday’s US Open Cup final. As such, there could be plenty of fresh faces on the pitch the casual fan may not recognize.
Will Inter Miami be able to keep their playoff hopes alive and get a win with reserves? We break it all down in our Orlando City vs. Inter Miami MLS free betting picks for Sunday, September 24.
Orlando City vs Inter Miami best odds
Orlando City vs Inter Miami picks and predictions
We’re not going to beat around the bush. Orlando City are going to win this match, and you should go bet on it now before the lines move any further.
Now that you’ve done that, here’s why it’s our best bet for Sunday’s match. First, Orlando City are the better team — even if Messi and Jordi Alba were on the pitch. The Lions have had their best campaign in franchise history, as Oscar Pareja has been able to work wonders with a revamped squad.
He now has them in position to host just their second playoff match ever, and they know they must take advantage of the opportunity. More importantly, they know that every point matters, especially since the Crew’s 3-0 win over Chicago on Wednesday cut Orlando’s lead down to just two points.
Orlando’s five final matches include Inter Miami, a visit next weekend from CF Montreal — who aren’t very good away from home — and a season-ending visit to Eastern basement-dwelling Toronto. They know they can’t drop those nine points, not with a trip to Nashville in the middle of all that.
I typically don’t like betting on teams in MLS that have to travel a long distance and play on short rest, but Orlando getting an extra day of rest before playing on Sunday night is critical.
Orlando has been outstanding in front of The Ruckus this season, with four straight wins at Exploria Stadium and an unbeaten run there of nine matches in league play. They’ve scored at least two goals in each of their last six at home and have outscored their opponents 13-5 during the four-match winning run.
Inter Miami beat Toronto 4-0 on Wednesday night, despite Messi playing just over a half hour while Alba came off minutes earlier, but that Toronto team still hit the woodwork twice, and just gave up in the second half. But the week before, with Messi not in attendance, they were worked 5-2 by Atlanta.
The same thing will happen here. Orlando City will get the outright win, securing their best point total in franchise history in front of a fanbase that would love to see Miami denied a spot in the playoffs. Play it over at TonyBet, where you can still get it at -119, before it moves even further.
My best bet: Orlando City moneyline (-119 at TonyBet)
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Orlando City vs Inter Miami same-game parlay
Our same-game parlay offers up a high-scoring affair for the Lions, as DraftKings has the best odds at +400 for this combo.
Orlando’s been firing from all angles at home this season, with at least two goals in each of their last six matches. Last time out at home, they put four past the Columbus Crew in a 4-3 thriller. The front line for Orlando, regardless of who plays, has plenty of pace and they’re in terrific form.
That’s why we’re backing Orlando City to score 3+ goals. Amongst those will be Torres, who has scored six goals in his last six matches including one off the bench against the Crew — where he took five shots in just 33 minutes.
While we’re banking on Torres to score, there’s a slight possibility he could get rotated out. If so, swap him out with Martin Ojeda to score anytime at +210. He’s got two goals in his last four matches as well — also including a goal as a sub — and had a goal and an assist in his start against Columbus.
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Orlando City vs Inter Miami side and Over/Under analysis
Inter Miami defeated Orlando City in the Leagues Cup in early August, but the Lions didn’t play badly on the road. In fact, they responded quickly to Messi’s opener and were tied at the half, but a second-half penalty put them behind and they couldn’t recover.
Since that loss, Orlando’s gone 4-1-1 and are one of the hottest teams in the league. Combine that with Messi and Alba being absent, and you see why the 3-way line has shifted heavily toward Orlando since the lines opened on Tuesday.
Orlando City has hosted Inter Miami six times, and they’re unbeaten with three wins and a trio of draws. That’s another reason we’re taking them to win outright.
The moment Messi went off injured on Wednesday, money began rolling in on Orlando. Their price went from +145 on Wednesday morning to -135 and has settled in the -130 range. Meanwhile, Miami went from a price of around +180 to now being priced around +300.
One thing the Messi injury didn’t really impact was the total. If anything, it’s gotten more juiced since he got hurt and is now priced around -150 or more for the Over. The Under is paying plus-odds, as high as +125.
Oddly enough, the last four meetings in Orlando have all finished either in a low-scoring draw or a 1-0 Orlando win, with a total of five goals scored over the four fixtures.
I’m staying away from the juice, and taking Orlando to score 3+ as part of the parlay. As for betting it outright, I’m not messing with the total here. If Miami rotates as expected, they can’t be relied on to score many goals and they’re going to bunker and try to play out a scoreless draw.
Orlando City vs Inter Miami game info
|Location:||Orlando City Stadium Orlando, FL|
|Date:||Sunday, September 24, 2023|
|Time:||7:30 p.m. ET|
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Orlando City vs Inter Miami key injuries
Orlando City: Antonio Carlos D (Out), Favian Loyola M (Out).
Inter Miami: Lionel Messi F (Out), Jordi Alba D (Out), Corentin Jean F (Out).