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We’re quickly running out of superlatives to describe MLS’ Lionel Messi era, because the Argentine icon just provided yet another magical moment at a crucial stage in a game.

Recent opponent FC Dallas presented the greatest defensive challenge that Inter Miami has had to contend with since Messi joined the team, and fans could see why Inter had been struggling throughout the MLS season before Messi arrived.

However, early in the second half, a majestic Messi through-ball found Jordi Alba racing toward the opposing goal line. The Spanish full back sent the ball back to youngster Benjamin Cremaschi, who knocked it in to cut Dallas’ lead to 3-2.

However, only two minutes later, Inter yielded an unfortunate Robert Taylor own goal, and it suddenly looked like the team’s post-Messi dream run through the Leagues Cup was coming to an end.

Although he was very impressive in the earlier Leagues Cup games, Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender struggled against Dallas. As a result, the team found itself trailing 4-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Enter Messi. When he is out there, a game is never quite over. Inter Miami caught a break with a Dallas own goal in its favor to make it 4-3. Dallas then committed a foul on the right edge of its penalty area, and the soccer world held its breath as Messi lined up for the direct kick.

Surely, he couldn’t do it again, could he? Yes, he could. Messi’s picture-perfect free kick tied the game at 4-4, and Inter Miami would sail through on penalties to set up its quarterfinal date with Charlotte.

On paper, this matchup favors Inter Miami even more than they were favored in the previous game against Dallas. With Saturday’s showdown fast approaching, let’s analyze the situation and make a prediction for the game.

Inter Miami vs Charlotte Odds

Moneyline: Inter Miami -211 | Draw +333 | Charlotte FC +425
1st Goal: Inter Miami -236 | No Goal +1200 | Charlotte FC +210
Both teams to score: Yes -143, No +105
Draw No Bet: Inter Miami -500 | Charlotte FC +300
Double Chance:  Inter Miami or Draw -650 | Inter Miami or Charlotte FC -500 | Draw or Charlotte FC +150
Total Goals: 1.5: Over -550 | Under +333
Total Goals: 2.5: Over -175 | Under +125
Total Goals: 3.5: Over +140 | Under -200
Total Goals: 4.5: Over +300 | Under -500

Inter Miami vs Charlotte FC Preview - Leagues Cup Quarter-Finals

Date: Friday, Aug. 11
8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel:
MLS Season Pass
Live stream:
MLS Season Pass (Apple TV+)

Inter Miami’s road to the Leagues Cup quarterfinals has been sensational. The team’s games have offered some of the most entertaining soccer we’ve ever seen in North America, and so far Messi and Co.’s arrival has more than lived up to the hype.

Messi has scored in every single game, netting seven goals in four outings during his brief career in South Florida. Owner David Beckham and the entire organization are thrilled with his arrival, and local fans are lapping up every bit of this monumental moment for both the franchise and the American soccer community.

Despite playing horribly at the back, Inter Miami escaped the clutches of what looked like certain defeat against Dallas. The team had performed poorly on defense throughout this MLS season, and Dallas exposed that weakness more than any other Leagues Cup opponent so far.

FC Dallas and Atlanta United – MLS teams that Inter Miami has beaten in the Leagues Cup to date -- are both hoping to make the playoffs this season, but Charlotte FC has only one MLS win than Inter Miami and sits 12th in the Eastern Conference.

Charlotte battled back from a 1-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes against the Houston Dynamo, tying the game when Patrick Agyemang overpowered a defender to claim a long ball, glided around the goalkeeper, and knocked it into an empty net. Just 60 seconds later, a back pass found its way past the keeper, and Charlotte escaped the League Cup game with a 2-1 win.

While Dallas is enjoying a run in this year’s Leagues Cup, it was fortunate to have beaten Houston, and it will have to play its best soccer to prevent Messi and a surging Inter Miami team from reaching the tournament’s semifinals.

Inter Miami vs Charlotte Predictions and Pick

Anytime Goalscorer

Robert Taylor has learned how to play alongside Lionel Messi in a hurry. In Leagues Cup games so far, Taylor has been Messi’s favorite target going forward when he makes a run in behind from the left wing. Messi has managed to find him on multiple occasions.

Taylor’s career has taken a superb turn since Messi arrived, and the hard-working left winger is giving everything he’s got -- clearly enjoying his time alongside the greatest of all time.

Since Charlotte is struggling defensively, and Taylor understands exactly what he must do when Messi picks up the ball in midfield, I’m picking the winger to score in this one.

The Pick: Robert Taylor to score anytime (+187)

Total Goals

We saw a total of eight goals scored in regulation time during Inter Miami’s game vs. Dallas, but Charlotte could offer even more scoring opportunities for Messi and Co.

No MLS team has conceded more goals this season, as Charlotte has allowed 40 in 23 games. That’s not exactly good news for any team about to face an Inter Miami squad that has become incredibly dangerous offensively after adding the best soccer talent on the planet to its roster.

I’m hoping to see another fast-paced and thrilling game, with a flurry of goals to add to the action.

The Pick: Over 3.5 Goals (+125)

Handicap 3 Way

I just can’t bet against Inter Miami here, and I’ll take them at -1 too. Charlotte just doesn’t have the discipline or organization at the back to handle Messi charging at them. He has a distinct ability to draw in defenders and open up space for teammates, which is another reason to look for Robert Taylor to score a goal in this one.

Inter Miami should win here. The team is back at home with world class reinforcements, and Charlotte will struggle if it falls behind. It hasn’t taken Messi long to score on multiple occasions so far, and this game might be a similar story.

The Pick: Inter Miami -1 (+130)

Best Inter Miami vs Orlando City Same Game Parlay Picks Today: 3-Leg SGP (+500)

Anytime Goalscorer

SGP Pick: Robert Taylor to score anytime (+187)

Total Goals

SGP Pick: Over 3.5 Goals (+125)

Handicap 3-Way

SGP Pick: Inter Miami to Win -1 (+115)

Odds are subject to change*

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