Today is the day that MLS fans in South Florida have been waiting a lifetime for. Inter Miami CF is finally going to get its long awaited home opener. In true 2020 fashion, one massive element will be missing from tonight’s game. Supporters will not be allowed in the stadium given the pandemic that is still raging in the tri-county area. Fans or no fans, this match is of massive importance for Miami after their month long layoff.
Miami seemed to be on the cusp of a breakthrough during the #MLSIsBack cup competition. The expansion franchise took an early lead against Orlando in its opening fixture. Two late goals by Chris Mueller and Nani would break Inter’s heart and rob Inter of points. Miami would fall in their next two group stage matches as well by conceding goals late amidst a faulty back line. It goes without saying, Diego Alonso is desperate for a win and tonight is the first step of erasing the memory of the past five months.
If any club has started the 2020 season on the opposite end of the spectrum it is Orlando City. Orlando struggled out of the gates early but went on an absolute tear during the #MLSIsBack cup. During the competition hosted in their own backyard, Orlando earned seven out of nine points in the group stage. Exciting one-goal matches would all result in wins during the knockout rounds against Montreal, LAFC, and Minnesota. Orlando’s Cinderella run fell short in the finals against Portland, after finally being on the wrong end of a one-goal game.
Keys To A Inter Miami Victory
Miami’s Achilles-heel in all five of their matches during 2020 was the back-line. Whether being caught out of position or being flat-footed Miami found new ways to give up goals. Supporters are hoping that Alonso has corrected the gaffes at the back. In order for Miami to come out of this match with any points, let alone a win, Alonso has to have cured what ails this club the most. Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez is set to make his debut tonight which will reinforce that back-line and begins a promising chapter in a partnership with Nicolas Figal.
Much has been said about Blaise Matuidi’s addition to the Herons. Matuidi will not be in the squad for tonight’s contest so it is up to the midfield to finally look like a cohesive unit. For Miami to earn points, Trapp and Ulloa must play together and complement each other. Rodolfo Pizarro is likely to be shadowed by Orlando everywhere he goes on the pitch so it is of extreme importance that Trapp and Ulloa open up space for Pizarro to beat his marks or draw more attention on themselves, freeing the creative attacker.
Orlando is coming off a heart-breaking cup final just eleven days ago. While Miami has been out of action for far longer than their opponents, Orlando has had less time to recoup since their magical cup run. While Miami’s play has not been inspiring in their showings so far, Diego Alonso is too good of a coach to let this slide continue. Miami’s roster is not beyond repair and there is hope that the extended training sessions over the past month have finally implemented the cohesion necessary among the squad. Predicting a win seems rather ambitious but a draw is not out of question as long as their defense shows up to the game.
Inter Miami CF 2 – 2 Orlando City SC
The Betting Window:
At that time of writing the bookmakers concur with the analysis above. The spread is currently at a pick ’em with Miami the betting line underdog paying even money (Orlando paying -120). Picking a regulation winner will both come with juicy odds at +165 and +150 respectively. Any regulation draw pays +245. The bookmakers agree that both teams will find the scoreboard at -160. The safe play is to take Orlando on the spread. A more ambitious bettor will put a unit on the draw.
Picks Record: 1-3