One of the worst teams in MLS not all that long ago, Inter Miami's arresting revival behind superstar Lionel Messi has the club favored in the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament final.
Inter Miami will face host Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final on Saturday as the moneyline favorite at +105, according to Odds Shark, with Nashville SC at +215. At bet365, Miami is +120 on the moneyline, while Nashville is at +210.
Messi has scored nine goals on 14 shots on target during Miami's six-game run. The Herons have scored four total goals in four matches and three goals once, lending credence to the idea that the back of the net could be tested Saturday.
Nashville has scored multiple goals in five of its six Leagues Cup victories, including five in a quarterfinal victory over Minnesota United. But their 2.5 goals per game in the tournament is well below Miami's 3.5 per-game average.
Odds for the game going over 2.5 total goals is -165, while under the number is +115. Nashville has shown some defensive prowess with shutouts in each of the last two rounds, including a 2-0 victory over Mexico's CF Monterrey in the semifinals Tuesday.
But the club has not yet come across the likes of a red-hot Messi, who also has four assists in Leagues Cup play. Messi's odds of scoring a goal are -120 at Odds Shark.
It's also not surprising to find Inter Miami's odds to win an MLS Cup title moving lower.
All of the excitement exists despite the fact that Inter Miami has a challenge to reach the postseason, sitting 12 points out of a wild-card position as of Wednesday. Messi has yet to play in his first MLS regular-season game.
According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Inter Miami line movement reflects increasing confidence in Messi's excellence and his domination in Leagues Cup play.
Prior to Messi's first game, Inter Miami was +3300 to win an MLS championship. That number fell to +2500 before his second game in Leagues Cup and all the way to +1200 before his third game.
On Wednesday, following Messi's sixth game with the franchise, Inter Miami sits as the +700 third-favorite to win the league.
Another representation of Messi's influence is BetMGM statistics regarding overall betting interest.
The sportsbook's highest ticket percentage to win the league lies with Messi and Inter Miami at a whopping 37.9 percent. FC Cincinnati is a distant second at 17.1 percent and LAFC is third with 7 percent of the tickets.
Inter Miami also owns BetMGM's highest handle percentage at 50.8 percent, with FC Cincinnati (14.1) and LAFC (6.1) next.
Should Messi continue to drive Inter Miami toward the playoffs, their backers will begin anticipating a nice payday. BetMGM lists Inter Miami as its largest liability among all teams in the MLS League Winner futures market.
As of Wednesday, the only sides with lower odds than Inter Miami were FC Cincinnati (+400) and Los Angeles FC (+600). The Philadelphia Union sat at +800 with the New England Revolution at +1000.
The MLS regular season ends in October.
-Field Level Media