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Pick: Inter Miami to win (+150)
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After a flawless start to the new season, Inter Miami entered a slump. Two wins in the first two games were followed by six successive losses. Four of those came in the last five MLS games for the club. However, there was some respite last weekend for the 2022 Carolina Challenge Cup winners as they defeated Columbus Crew 2-1 on the road.
Atlanta United could have been level on points with the two top teams of the Eastern Division - New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati - but fell three points behind after a loss to fourth-place Nashville SC. That is the only loss Atlanta United have encountered in their last five MLS games.
A closely-contested affair is in store for spectators when these two sides collide in Inter Miami’s backyard. While Inter Miami have ended their dreadful run, they will have a tough time keeping Atlanta United at bay and they will eventually give up all three points.
The history books do not contain many pages regarding this fixture, as they have only met nine times in the MLS. Both clubs have won three games each, and the other three matches have all ended in draws.
Last season when Inter Miami hosted Atlanta United, the hosts came from behind to clinch all three points with a 2-1 victory. The visitors avenged the outcome in the reverse fixture at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a comfortable 2-0 win.
Four of the nine MLS games between these two sides were hosted by Inter Miami. They have won two, and the other two have ended in draws. Atlanta United are yet to pick up all three points against Inter Miami on the road.
The primary goal of Inter Miami this season will be to finish in the playoff qualification spot for the second time in their short history. That will also confirm a playoff finish in back-to-back seasons for the club, as they finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last season.
However, securing a prized playoff spot will be no cakewalk, especially for a side that was recently on a six-game losing streak. After a stellar start to the season, Inter Miami suffered consecutive defeats against New York City FC, Toronto FC, Chicago Fire FC, FC Cincinnati, Dallas, and Houston Dynamo FC.
Inter Miami matched their six-game losing streak of last season that started in May and ended in July with back-to-back wins. They have already registered one win against Columbus Crew last weekend but beating Atlanta United will be anything but a walk in the park.
Last weekend’s victory must have provided a major boost to the Inter Miami squad, but now the club has to build on the very little momentum they have and gear up for massive challenges that are in store for them over the next few weeks.
Atlanta United are in no mood to give up third place and will throw everything they have at Inter Miami. Next weekend, the hosts will encounter another big challenge in the form of New England Revolution. After that, they will face fourth-placed Nashville SC.
Inter Miami ended the league season with 47 goals last season. In his final season before retirement, Gonzalo Higuain finished with 16 goals. Right behind him was Leonardo Campana, with 11 goals under his belt.
The club were already without Higuain this season when they lost Campana to a calf injury. However, three weeks ago, the 22-year-old made his comeback from injury. Last weekend, he bagged a brace and is looking hungry for more.
Clinging on to the third spot and moving even close to the summit of the Eastern Conference will be the primary aim of Atlanta United at this juncture. A loss could drop them down to fifth place from third if the two teams below them win their games this weekend.
Hence, a positive result for Atlanta United is a compulsion if they want to consolidate their position in third and maybe even inch closer to the top two if they drop points. However, the biggest psychological hurdle for the visitors in this match will be their poor away form.
Atlanta United have won four out of five games at home, but on the road, they have only won one out of their last five. In the last four away games, Atlanta United have lost two and drawn two. They are coming into this game after a 3-1 loss at Nashville.
Attack could be the best form of defense for Atlanta United in the next game. The visitors may have won just 50 percent of their games this season, but they have not been shy in front of goal. In ten games so far, the club has scored 19 goals.
However, they have also conceded 16 in the process. But it will be difficult for Inter Miami to capitalize on that weak spot because their goal-scoring record is considerably poorer than that of Atlanta United. While the visitors are scoring an average of 1.9 goals per match, the hosts only have a goals-per-match average of 0.9.
Last season, Josef Martinez and Ronaldo Cisneros were the leading goalscorers for Atlanta United. The former joined Inter Miami this season and will face his former club in the next game, while Cisneros moved to Liga MX side CD Guadalajara.
Thiago Almada finished last season at the top of the assists chart. The midfielder has taken full responsibility for creating and scoring goals this season. In eight appearances so far, the Argentinian has scored five goals and pocketed five assists. Almada encountered a dry spell over the last few weeks but ended it last week with his side’s only goal against Nashville SC.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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