Inter Miami’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs hopes might have ended with their loss to Supporters’ Shield champions FC Cincinnati last time out, but their Leagues Cup win and many of their latter-season performances will have fans hoping next year could bring more silverware.
Their season ends with a doubleheader against Charlotte in the space of just four days, with the Crown just one point off a Wild Card spot.
Jack Collins here from The Game Day to look at a first matchup between two sides separated by just two places in the Eastern Conference, but of whom only one still harbors postseason ambitions, on a rescheduled Matchday 27 in Major League Soccer, happening on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Inter Miami CF vs. Charlotte FC Odds
Inter Miami CF vs. Charlotte FC betting lines are current as of Monday, Oct. 16, at 11 am ET at bet365 Sportsbook.
- 3-Way Moneyline: Miami (+150) • Tie (+260) • Charlotte (+155)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-188) • Under 2.5 (+140)
- Both Teams To Score: Yes (-200) • No (+150)
Inter Miami CF vs. Charlotte FC Match Prediction
Inter Miami CF 1-2 Charlotte FC
The reason this game looks so tight with the bookmakers is Lionel Messi is returning from international duty with Argentina, playing a game the night before against Peru, and so will very likely be unavailable to feature.
Since he joined the club in mid-July, Miami’s record in all competitions with Messi in the team is 11W-1L-1D, and without him, it reduces to 1W-4L-2D. That’s an almighty drop-off and goes to show the influence the Argentine superstar has had on this team.
While Messi's production numbers have hardly set the league on fire, with just one goal and two assists to his name in MLS so far, the rising tide has appeared to lift all boats. Simply put, everyone else in this Inter Miami side gets better when Messi is on the pitch.
Miami fans will point to their 4-0 demolition of Charlotte at home in the Leagues Cup, but the two teams are in remarkably different places from that meeting on Aug. 11.
The Herons are winless in four in MLS, have been eliminated from playoff contention, and lost the US Open Cup Final to Houston. They have been beaten 4-1 by Chicago Fire, who incidentally lost 2-0 to this week’s opponents at Soldier Field last weekend.
And that win made it back-to-back victories for Charlotte, who remain in the postseason mix despite a run where they picked up three points in MLS just once in 15 games either side of the Leagues Cup break.
Out of nowhere, Charlotte appear to have recovered their edge at just the right time, and they know that if they were to win both games against Miami this week they would find themselves in the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history.
Karol Świderski, the club's Polish international, has rediscovered his spark from the spot, scoring three goals and picking up an assist in the Crown’s last two outings, as well as scoring on international duty for his country. Club captain Ashley Westwood, formerly of Burnley in the Premier League, has stepped up too by notching a goal and an assist from central midfield.
Whether Świderski will be available after playing 90 minutes for Poland against Moldova on Sunday will be a question mark, but given the situation for Charlotte, it might well be a case of needs must.
Westwood, though, remains upbeat: "We're hitting form at the right time. We're playing well," he said after the win against Chicago. "We're dominating teams, and when we play well, we're a real force to be reckoned with."
When you consider Tata Martino may well feel like resting Messi in order to avoid any complications from his injury, the form Charlotte have suddenly found and the realization that everything is on the line for the Crown, Miami have little to play for aside from to play spoiler.
It feels like the team with the highest need might well just come out on top. And unequivocally right now, that team is Charlotte.
Inter Miami CF vs. Charlotte FC Best Bet
Both Teams To Score: Yes (-200) • bet365 Sportsbook
While Miami haven't been pulling up trees with their goalscoring exploits of late, the truth remains that only MLS’ best side in Cincinnati have shut them out in their last eight outings.
In front of a home crowd for the last time this season, they’ll be hoping not to go out with a whimper and should still find the back of the net.
Karol Świderski Anytime Goalscorer (+160) • bet365 Sportsbook
The Pole has now scored in four consecutive games for club and country when he has been in the starting lineup and leads Charlotte’s goalscoring stakes with 12 during this MLS season.
Świderski is hitting form at the right time, and with penalty duties firmly his and Charlotte’s knack for winning them of late, he’s a safe bet to strike again in Florida.