New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami Prediction, Preview and Odds - 10/9/21
Two Eastern Conference foes both badly in need of a victory will meet on Saturday evening when Inter Miami visits the New York Red Bulls. Miami is coming off a 1-0 road loss to the Portland Timbers last Saturday as a +345 underdog, and has a lot of work to do in the playoff race at 9-5-13 to rank 11th in the East. New York is just ahead in ninth place at 9-7-11 after picking up a 1-0 road win against FC Cincinnati last weekend as a +119 underdog.
These teams met less than a month ago, with New York rolling to a 4-0 road win to take a 2-1 lead in the series since Miami joined MLS prior to last season.
Miami suffers fourth straight loss as offense shut down again
A hot streak in the middle of the summer gave Miami some hope of doing some damage in the playoffs, but now it has to go on a big run to even make the postseason after dropping a fourth straight match last weekend in Portland. It wasn’t a productive night for either offense until Portland’s Jaroslaw Niezgoda headed home the game’s lone goal in the 83rd minute just 45 seconds after entering as a substitute, and Miami’s game-tying attempt shortly after that hit the back of the net was whistled back for a foul on Dario Zuparic.
Miami narrowly had the better of the play with 51% possession while recording 13 total shots including five on target. Marsman made two saves and the defense generally played very well with Portland not getting many dangerous looks, yet it wasn’t enough as the offense continued to struggle badly during this four-match losing streak.
“We’ve got the talent to do that [make a playoff run]. We’ve been on runs this season where we could easily achieve this. Now it’s about belief, belief that we can achieve the things we want to achieve and to do that we’re going to have to sacrifice, to do that we’re going to have to do something that this fútbol’s club has probably never done before,” head coach Phil Neville said to Miami’s official website, with his team now eight points back with seven matches to play.
The recent issues have dropped Miami into dead last in scoring for the entire MLS with an average of 0.93 goals per game on 9.33 shots per contest. Miami’s defense only grades out marginally better at 1.56 goals and 12.74 shots per match allowed while keeping five clean sheets.
Gonzalo Higuain is one of the few standouts for the Miami offense with 10 goals and four assists to lead the team in both categories. Robbie Robinson is next on the Miami scoring leaderboard with four goals, while Rodlfo Pizarro has added three goals and one assist.
There were some injury issues stemming from the last match, as defenders Jorge Figal (right calf strain) and Kieran Gibbs (left hamstring strain) plus midfielder Gregore (head) were all banged up against Portland and remain questionable. Midfielder Victor Ulloa hasn’t played since September 14 with a strained quad and its unclear when he will return.
New York keeps hope alive by taking care of must-win game
Any chance of a miracle run to the postseason down the stretch for the Red Bulls required beating woeful Cincinnati last weekend, and they managed a late goal to remain unbeaten in their last five matches while moving within five points of eighth place. After failing to convert on a number of good chances in the first half, New York finally broke through in the 73rd minute when Andrew Gutman scored on a great finish against his old team, and Cincinnati never seriously threatened an equalizer.
Cincinnati actually held a 59% possession advantage, but New York outshot the hosts 17-6 overall with five of the Red Bulls’ attempts going on target. Cristian Casseres was credited with the assist on Gutman’s game-winner, which came just moments after Sean Davis had to make a terrific block on Cincinnati’s most dangerous chance of the night.
"This was our seventh match in 21 days," Gutman said to New York’s official website. "Just for us to grind out a win on the road, Cincinnati, they are in last place, but they are not a bad team. They are creative, they controlled a lot of the game, so for us just to grind it out and get a 1-0 win on the road is massive. For us, five games unbeaten, we have given ourselves a chance to sneak into the playoffs and we are going to push for it as hard as we can.
New York’s offense has struggled for long stretches of the season, averaging 1.22 goals and 14.37 shots per game overall. The Red Bulls are still in the postseason mix thanks to a defense that has allowed just 1.11 goals and 9.92 shots per match while keeping nine clean sheets.
Patryk Kimala has been New York’s best outfield player with seven goals and five assists to pace the offense. Casseres is having a strong season with four goals and two assists, a stat line that is matched by 18-year-old Caden Clark who is quickly becoming one of the league’s brightest young stars.
Forward Fabio suffered a calf injury three weeks ago and is not expected to be ready in time for Saturday, a huge loss as he has five goals and a team-high six assists this year. The Red Bulls have been without one of their best players since May with star defender Aaron Long recovering from a torn Achilles. Reserve defender Lucas Monzon is also dealing with a hamstring problem.
Side Prediction: Red Bulls -1 (-105)
Total: Under 2.5 (-105)
An inconsistent Miami team has now reverted back to its early-season form of being one of the worst sides in MLS, while the Red Bulls are starting to pick things up with a 3-2-0 stretch that started with the blowout win in this matchup. It’s hard to see where the offense is going to come from for Miami against a quality opposing defense, and New York’s far superior playmaking depth will lead to another win by multiple goals.
Miami’s offense grades out as one of the worst in MLS by any stat out there, and is on a particularly bad run lately with a grand total of four goals over its last eight matches, as even the lengthy hot streak earlier in the summer was unsustainable by predictive metrics. That’s going to make life difficult against a Red Bulls defense that is third in expected goals allowed across MLS, and New York held Miami to an unbelievable 0.1 expected goals in the meeting last month.
New York’s offense has been getting unfortunate for most of the season as it is a top 10 unit by predictive stats, and the young duo of Casseres and Clark can be difficult to keep up with while providing good service to a prolific striker in Kimala. The Red Bulls completely dominated the recent matchup between these two on both sides of the ball, and Miami has shown nothing since that would indicate it can keep within one goal on the road here.
Even though the New York offense has a lot of upside, the injury to Fabio is massive as he’s the team’s
best passer and also scored twice in the 4-0 rout of Miami in September. Miami’s defense has been solid enough outside of that game over the last two months and ranks exactly at the MLS average in expected goals allowed overall.
Miami’s offense is last in the league by a healthy amount with 0.92 expected goals per game, a number that only gets worse on the road, as there’s just not enough support for the aging veteran Higuain who has to do everything himself. There’s a great chance Miami gets blanked again here, and the Red Bulls won’t put in four goals like last meeting considering Fabio’s absence.