Inter Miami vs Philadelphia Union Odds, Pick, Prediction | Lionel Messi in Leagues Cup Semifinal
Hector Vivas/Getty. Pictured: Lionel Messi.
Inter Miami vs Philadelphia Union Odds
|Inter Miami Odds||+137|
|Philadelphia Union Odds||+175|
|Over / Under|
-211 / +160
Lionel Messi faces his toughest test yet as we make an Inter Miami vs. Philadelphia Union pick on Tuesday night in the Leagues Cup semifinals.
Messi has been everything Miami had possibly hoped for since the reigning World Cup champion and Golden Ball winner signed last month. The Argentine has eight goals and two assists in the competition — scoring in every game he has played — while helping the Herons to a 4-0-1 record.
But the defending Eastern Conference champion Union will easily be the best MLS opponent Messi has faced, and only the second he has battled on the road. FC Dallas were the first and stormed to leads of 3-1 and 4-2 before Messi and Miami fought back to level the game and win the round-of-16 clash on penalties.
Prior to Messi's arrival last month, Miami split their meetings with the Union, winning 2-0 at home in March and losing 4-1 at Philly in late June.
Let's break down Philadelphia Union vs Inter Miami in our Leagues Cup semifinal preview.
After a blistering start to the tournament, the Union have appeared to lose some steam in the knockout phases.
They advanced past both D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls on penalties after playing to 0-0 and 1-1 draws respectively before earning a 2-1 win over Queretaro on Chris Donovan's late goal.
And they are likely to continue to be short-handed. Regular season team scoring leader Julian Carranza exited in the Queretaro win with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and while he's not completely ruled out, it's almost certain he won't start. Captain Alejandro Bedoya is back in training but isn't 90-minutes fit after an extended absence.
However, attacking midfielder Daniel Gazdag should return to manager Jim Curtin's first XI after missing the match against Queretaro with a mild knee sprain.
The Union own an 8-1-2 home record (W-L-T) that is among the best in MLS regular season play this season. They haven't lost at home in knockout play since the 2021 Eastern Conference final, when half of their starting XI was sidelined due to a COVID-19 cluster.
As gaudy as Messi's early statistics have been, he could have two more goals had he not unexpectedly ceded the penalty-taking duties to Josef Martinez on two occasions. Martinez converted the latter of those spot kicks to begin a 4-0 romp past Charlotte FC on Friday night.
Messi eventually got on the board late, and his presence also helped force Charlotte into a second-half own goal. But his deference to Martinez hits at a deeper truth — Miami need the striker to get going as a secondary scoring threat.
It hasn't happened in open play, and it wouldn't be surprising to see manager Tata Martino opt for Leonardo Campana in the No. 9 role instead of Martinez on Tuesday. Some expected that switch for the quarterfinal on Friday night.
There have been some rumors swirling of Messi picking up a potential injury in training, but all reports say he completed Monday's training session and his role on Tuesday is unlikely to change.
Either way, Miami continues to be a tricky team to handicap. The quantitative indicators suggest they haven't been as dominant as their scores have indicated. Messi has continued to outperform those analytic numbers so far, and while some of that is probably to be expected, it's unclear how much.
Philadelphia Union vs Inter Miami
This will easily be the most difficult task the Herons have faced so far. And while they have passed all the previous exams, they've also benefitted from good fortune as well.
The flow of their 3-1 win over Orlando City in the second round hanged with a very fortunately awarded penalty that Martinez converted to give the Herons a 2-1 lead early in the second half. They were fortunate not to concede more than four goals in that 4-4 draw against Dallas, and also benefitted in that one from Marco Farfan's bizarre own goal.
Additionally, two of Miami's results were sealed through late Messi free kicks, that 4-4 draw in Dallas and a 2-1 group opening win against Cruz Azul. Messi is one of the best dead-ball strikers in the world with a career conversion rate just south of 10%. But his rate with Miami so far is a lot higher than that.
While Messi's heroics are real, there are also signs of approaching regression everywhere. And when Philadelphia opened as sizable home underdogs in a ground where they've only lost once in the last two years, that was a fringe too far.
Bettors have pushed the line on Philly down a little at most books, but you can still find a draw no bet wager at +125 odds and 44.4% probability, which is the price where I played it when it opened.
I'm also continuing to fade Miami on corners despite narrow misses in the previous two matches. The Herons' pattern of play — i.e. always looking up to find Messi in the middle of the park — doesn't lead to many corners. You're getting plus money backing Philly +1 on the corner spread (meaning Miami winning the corner battle by one is a push). With Messi involved, the Herons haven't out-cornered anyone yet.