My cardinal rule of betting on Major League Soccer is do not bet on MLS.
But that is no fun with the MLS is Back tournament expected to gain more attention as the first men’s team sport back in the United States.
There are plenty of unknowns about the tournament and how each of the 25 participating teams will react after a four-month layoff.
Even with unpredictability abound at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, there is plenty of value on the board with only one favorite listed above even odds in the first four games.
The tournament opener pits Orlando City against Inter Miami CF in what may develop into a rivalry down the road because of the proximity of the two teams.
Orlando has not had much success against current top rival Atlanta United, so maybe it will be easier for it to achieve success against an expansion team. Or not.
Despite being an expansion team, Inter Miami enters as the betting favorite in the Group A matchup.
Inter Miami has one of the most experienced goalkeepers in MLS in former New York Red Bull Luis Robles and an attack with exciting Mexican and South American talent.
The host Lions boast Nani in midfield, but there are questions about where the goals will come from and how sturdy the back four will look.
If you are watching this game from a local perspective, Inter Miami is scheduled to be the Philadelphia Union’s third Group A opponent. Although that could change if Nashville SC’s participation is altered. At the moment, Nashville’s tournament spot is under scrutiny because of positive COVID-19 tests.
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF
Odds: Orlando City (+185); Inter Miami (+135)
Players to Watch
Nani, M, Orlando City
Nani is the top name on the marquee for Wednesday’s Floridian showdown.
The 33-year-old Portuguese winger produced 12 goals and 10 assists in 2019 and will likely be the catalyst for most of Orlando’s attacking chances.
In fact, the former Manchester United man may have to score himself. Dom Dwyer only scored on seven occasions in 2019 and Chris Mueller has not put the ball in the net on a consistent basis.
Julian Carranza, F, Inter Miami
Julian Carranza is one of the many beneficiaries from a health perspective of the long layoff.
The 20-year-old Argentinian was scheduled to miss 10-12 weeks with a foot injury, but he only missed two games due to the league suspension.
Orlando City’s defense allowed 52 goals in 2019 and it may still be susceptible to conceding an abundance of chances, some of which could come from Carranza after combining with Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini.
If you are looking for a player to score prop to bet on, Carranza is intriguing at +180 if he starts.
Inter Miami (+135)
I thought about suggesting to sit this one out and see how the tournament plays, but let’s be honest, we’re going to be willing to bet on this game.
Inter Miami has the more dangerous attack with Pizarro, Carranza and Pellegrini roaming the final third, and the experienced midfield pair of Wil Trapp and Victor Ulloa could shut down Orlando’s advances through the middle.
Additionally, Miami has the better goalkeeper in Luis Robles, and if you need an X-factor to decide your bet, he is the guy.
Photo Credit: Major League Soccer.