FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami Odds, Pick, Predictions | US Open Cup Preview

FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami Odds, Pick, Predictions | US Open Cup Preview article feature image

Kevin Cox/Getty. Pictured: Lionel Messi.

FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami Odds

Wednesday, Aug. 23
7:30 p.m. ET
Apple TV
FC Cincinnati Odds+187
Inter Miami Odds+230
Over / Under
+120 / -163
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Lionel Messi looks to continue his unbeaten start to life in South Florida while rolling in a new competition when he and Inter Miami visit FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

Messi and company will be only four days removed from their storybook run to winning the inaugural 2023 Leagues Cup, taking the final in an 11-round penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw with Nashville SC.

Cincinnati lost to Nashville on penalties in the round of 16 to exit Leagues Cup, then were rudely welcomed to MLS play with a 3-0 loss at rivals Columbus Crew on Sunday evening.

Wednesday's hosts won the previous meeting in the league this season 1-0 in a game also played in Ohio, and own a 4-1-2 (W-L-T) lifetime against the Herons. This is the teams' first U.S. Open Cup meeting.

Here is my FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami pick and prediction.

FC Cincinnati

After a dismal first three seasons in MLS, Cincy were immediately improved to start 2022 under the guidance of first-year sporting director Chris Albright and manager Pat Noonan. They appeared to make another step forward at the midpoint of last season, and they carried that over into a blistering start to this campaign.

They're now Supporters' Shield leaders, holding a seven-point edge over St. Louis with 10 matches to play, and eight over New England, which holds a match in hand.

But perhaps there have been some signs of regression of late for a team that is only third in the Eastern Conference and sixth in MLS in expected-goals difference, with an xGD of +7.1 after a Sunday night drubbing at rival Columbus.

They've posted only a 2-0-3 record in their last five home games in all competitions — hardly a bad mark but far shy of their perfect 13-for-13 home start in all competitions. Additionally, they were badly outplayed in their return to MLS action in a 3-0 defeat to their Hell is Real intrastate rivals.

The good news is that was Cincy's third defeat of the year, and all of them have come by multiple goals. The previous two times haven't appeared to impact their form very much. And while Noonan's squad might not post the most gaudy xG numbers, they are exceptionally consistent. They have not trailed an opponent in xG in any home MLS fixture they've played this season.

Also of note, team-scoring leader and MLS MVP contender Luciano Acosta is one of Messi's MLS Argentine compatriots and has a relationship with the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner. We'll see whether that has an impact on the performance of the product of Boca Juniors — the club that produced Argentina's other all-time great, Diego Maradona.

Cincy will be without talented center back Yerson Mosquera, but the other key pieces of their defense — including center back Matt Miazga and holding midfielder Obinna Nwobodo — are expected to start.

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Inter Miami

The typical rules don't appear to apply to Messi and Miami.

The Herons went 5-0-2 over 90 minutes in the Leagues Cup with their new leader and outscored opponents 22-8 despite creating less than 1.0 xG per 90 minutes and posting an xGD per 90 minutes of -0.39, according to FootyStats.com. Miami overachieved their xG difference by an astounding 2.38 goals per 90 minutes.

With a singularly great player like Messi, you expect some overachievement of xG based on superior technical ability and the psychological advantage of having such a player on your side. But just how much of that overachievement can be sustained?

History suggests some but not all. Messi's Barcelona sides overachieved their xG numbers of more than 0.5 goals per 90 minutes but less than 1.0 per 90 in his final four seasons in La Liga, the only campaigns for which FBref.com has data. There are some earlier numbers from other sources that suggest a higher margin of overachievement in earlier seasons, but I'd caution that the xG models back then were a lot less reliable.

The equation with Barca is also a little different, as they had the better players at nearly every position in the majority of their league matches. That's not true for Miami, although they have quietly built an above-MLS-average supporting cast that includes former Messi Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

Miami also averaged 61.1% possession through Messi's six starts in the tournament, which if transferred to MLS play would put them solidly in the lead in that category by four-plus percentage points. Three of their four wins in those starts came against opponents who are also averaging above 50% possession in league play — Atlanta, Charlotte and Orlando. Cincy do not fall in that category.

FC Cincinnati vs Inter Miami

Pick & Prediction

It's natural to expect some continued over-achievement of analytics for Inter. However, over-achievement by more than two goals per 90 minutes feels very unlikely. The move may be to fade Miami based on those analytics in spots that may seem particularly different.

A third away match in eight days – and four days after winning a major title – against the Supporters' Shield leaders feels like one of those.

A third away game in eight days, four days after winning a final and playing against arguably the best team in the league after a loss to their derby rival, is probably one of those times.

Messi, Busquets and Alba may be used to playing high-stakes games in quick succession in different competitions. Most of this team is not, though. It's a little unclear how much an Open Cup would add to the club's legacy this year, especially with their place in next year's Concacaf Champions Cup round of 16 already secure based on their Leagues Cup triumph.

So, my play is Cincy on a draw no bet wager at +155 and an implied 39.2% probability. This is a stadium where they haven't lost all season against a team that is 1-0-2 on the road. I don't hate a +0.5 spread wager or the moneyline draw either, but I think you need to guard against the draw in some form given Miami has already drawn twice away and that this is a cup game with extra time.

If you really can't stand to fade Messi, the anytime goalscorer wager (-125) is still a bit of unsexy value. While I don't think his team will continue to over-perform to this degree, Messi scoring in at least 60% of his Miami appearances feels more likely than not, even away from home.

And as always, be prepared to fade Miami on the corner kicks market. In this quirky Cup competition, though, those lines seem likely to post much closer to kickoff.

Pick: FC Cincinnati – Draw no bet (+155 via BetRivers)

Note: Pick was originally published at 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

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