|US Open Cup Match Poster|
For anyone not familiar with the competition, it is the equivalent of say the English FA Cup, and has all the same thrills and spills, giant killings and shock results. A total of 91 teams will compete for the $250,000 first prize, from amateur level all the way up to the MLS. Games are decided on the evening, there are no replays, if there are no winners after 90 minutes then the tension of extra time and possibly penalties will ensue. Like cup competitions all over the world, it's a roller coaster of excitement and emotions.
Indy Eleven V Louisville City: Sophomores and Freshmen!
Indy Eleven make their second appearance in the tournament in 2015. Last year in round three of the competition they faced Dayton Dutch Lions of USL Pro at the time in Indianapolis and ran out 5-2 winners of the tie, a match in which the home fans witnessed Montreal Impact loaner Blake Smith score a hat-trick. Advancement to the fourth round saw Indy Eleven drawn away from home against Columbus Crew, and the home team decided to host the game in Akron. It was a very exciting game, and went to extra time after Indy Eleven managed to hold on at 1-1 for 90 minutes, but eventually succumbed to cramp and tiredness and a second goal from the Crew in OT. I was at that game and was very proud of the team that night, they literally gave it everything, it was bitter sweet!
Louisville City FC are in the midst of their inaugural season in USL Pro, and enjoying good success, having played 9 games already their season began in March, and they have only suffered one loss in 2015 so far, a 1-0 road defeat to Charlotte Independence (current team of Indy alumni Chris Estridge), USL Pro record thus far is 4-4-1 and they sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Louisville entered the Open Cup for the very first time this year and were drawn in the second round against NPSL side Lansing United. Because of my interest in the NPSL and more specifically the Midwest region I am well aware of Lansing United and saw them play last year against Indiana Fire Juniors, they are a very tough outfit and won their division last year, won the regional playoffs and made it all the way to the national playoffs losing in the semi finals to New York Red Bulls U23. So I not only knew this would be a tough tie for Louisville but I also viewed it as a potential upset. The disadvantage for Lansing in the timing of the game was they had not played a competitive game in 2015 until this tie, so Louisville should have had the edge, in the end they only beat Lansing by a solitary own goal and advanced to be tied in the third round with Indy Eleven.
There is reason to be concerned but don't be!!
Hopefully I have not put the jinx on this game, I am sure after our performances in recent weeks, we all have reason to be apprehensive about this game. I am confident that a combination of frustration and anger amongst the team is probably going to provide Louisville with a very frustrating night. Possibly Louisville are looking at this match as a chance to cause an upset, we played them preseason and lost 2-1 without yet having our full squad together, but preseason games any where in the world don't count for much and Louisville will find a totally different situation tomorrow night. There is an added edge to this game in that we know the winner will face Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in the next round. There is more than just a supporter relationship between Indy and Fire, there is also a player (Pineda , Franco and Wojcik) relationship and of course we all know about Peter Wilt's history with the Open Cup and Chicago Fire. This really puts an edge on this game and that cannot be emphasized enough. It is imperative that we win tomorrow night, and I think we will, it's not going to be a seven goal thriller like last year but I expect Indy to be capable of keeping a clean sheet and winning by a couple of goals. Everyone is hurting right now, but I really want to see some smiles on players faces tomorrow night. Bear in mind that Lansing United, who will not be traveling to Indy this week played their first NPSL game of the season at home last Friday after playing Louisville and were held to a 0-0 draw by Indiana Fire. As much as I am proud of our local NPSL team, I think Indy Eleven have a little more to offer at this level.
How will we line up? ....
Most of this is based on guess work, I do not have an injury report for tomorrow. We know from Saturday that Sergio Pena went off in the first half, considerations of the forthcoming game against Tampa tells me that we will not see Sergio Pena make the roster for tomorrow, pretty sure he is injured along with Kleberson and McKinney. Erick Norales and Hyland both were injury concerns during the game against Ottawa but both finished the game, I expect to see both at least available. I think we will see Indy Eleven start with a reasonable core of players from our recent games, I expect Nicht to start in goal and Brad Ring to start at defensive midfield. Considering Janicki has had a recent calf injury and we don't know of Norales status for this game, I suspect we may see Cory Miller start the game and possibly Janicki start on the bench. Another question mark is over Dragan Stojkov, he was expected to be out for one to two weeks which would be up after the Ottawa game, I think we may see him back on the roster, whether he will start or not is hard to say. Considering our recent lack of action in front of goal we may see Duke Lacroix make his debut for the team. There may be a little bit of dabbling going on, and we may see some players start who have not recently. If Dragan is fully fit and ready to play I would start him and I would also re-insert Melgares and give him an opportunity to show why we brought him here. My guess on the start is a return to a 4-4-2 formation with Nicht, Hyland, Norales, Miller, Franco, Melgares (or Pineda), Ring, Mares, Stojkov (or Smart) and Wojcik and Lacroix up front. Bench other than mentioned above: Cardona, Frias, Janicki, Rugg and either Brown or Keller.
Not going to make an actual score prediction, but I expect Indy to win by at least two goals.
If you are interested in following all the other US Open Cup Results tomorrow I suggest using this link for live score!