While the world’s media focused on Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba going off early with "muscle tighness" for Inter Miami in their last outing, the rest of this team picked themselves up and concentrated on dishing out a comprehensive 4-0 demolition of Toronto to keep their Audi MLS Cup Playoff hopes intact.
Orlando City, on the other hand, secured their postseason spot despite a 2-0 defeat at the hands of New York City FC, with other results going their way.
Jack Collins here from The Game Day to look at a matchup between two of the Eastern Conference’s most in-form sides in the Florida Derby on Matchday 34 in Major League Soccer, happening on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF Odds
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF betting lines are current as of Thursday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. ET at bet365 Sportsbook.
- 3-Way Moneyline: Orlando City (-118) • Tie (+260) • Inter Miami CF (+320)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (+115) • Under 2.5 (+115)
- Both Teams To Score: Yes (-163) • No (+120)
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF Match Prediction
Orlando City 2:2 Inter Miami CF
Orlando might have booked their place in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, but they will be incredibly disappointed not to have done it off their own steam.
But points make prizes, and the Lions have been one of the best teams in MLS across the second half of this season, rocketing up the table into second place. There is an argument to be had that they are the form side in the division.
FC Cincinnati currently sits nine points above Orlando City, with each having five games left of the regular season.
A late challenge for the Supporters’ Shield and top spot in the East is probably now beyond them with that NYCFC defeat. However, they remain on course to break club records for both points and wins if their form continues.
It’s been fuelled by a pair of attacking talents - one in the form of a designated player and the other in a homegrown SuperDraft selection.
Facundo Torres, the Uruguayan international who was signed from Peñarol in his homeland, has been in scintillating form off the right wing, scoring 12 times and adding three assists whilst drifting inwards onto his favored left foot; including six goal contributions in his last six games.
But the breakout story of the year has been Duncan McGuire, whose eight goals and two assists in his first season at the club have Orlando City fans clamoring that the club have done it again in terms of taking a rookie striker out of college soccer and molding him into a star.
In that regard, McGuire is taking a well-trodden path. Back in 2015, Orlando brought through a young draft selection called Cyle Larin, who would go on to become the Canada MNT’s leading goalscorer.
In 2020, they unleashed Daryl Dike, who would eventually become the club’s record sale when he joined English Championship club West Bromwich Albion and a full USMNT international. And now, they have McGuire.
Together, Torres and McGuire showcase some of the best things about MLS as a league. It provides an opportunity for young stars, both homegrown and imported, to thrive and become central pieces of a team going places. And Orlando City feels like it’s going places.
On the other side of this is a team with perhaps the highest upward trajectory in MLS right now, in the shape of Inter Miami. Whilst much of the focus has naturally been on the new additions of Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Alba, perhaps the less heralded part of things will take the front seat with two of those players out for this game.
That’s the fact that since their arrival, the levels of everybody associated with the club have gone through the roof. When Messi was on international duty, Leonardo Campana led the team to a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City with a virtuoso display.
And when Messi and Alba went off injured against Toronto, Facundo Farías opened the scoring, Robert Taylor scored a brilliant solo goal, and Benja Cremaschi raced in to add a third before Farías and Taylor combined to put some gloss on the scoreline.
The Herons are not a one-man team, as good as that man may be. The players above have all stepped up when they have been needed, whilst there is MLS heritage in the form of Josef Martínez and DeAndre Yedlin too.
That win over Toronto put Miami back in touching distance of the postseason, five points behind D.C. United with two games in hand. Manager Tata Martino has said that Messi and Alba will not be available this weekend, but whether that comes to pass or not.
If Miami wants to reach the playoffs, the rest of this squad needs to stand up and deliver in the Florida Derby. And you’d be a brave soul to bet against them.
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF Best Bets
Both Teams To Score: Yes (-163) • bet365 Sportsbook
Messi or not, Miami have looked incredibly threatening going forward since the Leagues Cup, and the last time Orlando failed to score on home turf was back in April. Goals are almost a guarantee here.
Facundo Torres Anytime Goalscorer (+160) • bet365 Sportsbook
Torres is in sensational form right now and has scored five times in four appearances at Exploria Stadium since MLS returned after the Leagues Cup. With Alba absent, expect the Uruguayan to cause havoc down Orlando's offensive right-hand side.