Thursday, May 14, 2015

THINK ONLY HAPPY THOUGHTS!!! (Indy Eleven V Minnesota United 5/16/15 Preview)

The return of Das Boot! Will he play?
Well we had a few pieces of news this week, some good some bad. As well know now and had expected Kristian Nicht has returned and re-signed for Indy Eleven. Kl├ęberson we already knew had a serious left hamstring injury, and now unfortunately an Achilles problem has been added to that. It's a great shame because we really could benefit from the creativity that a fit and ready Kl├ęberson. We also added another player to the roster, defender Daniel Keller, a 2015 MLS Superdraft pick for LA Galaxy and formerly of University of Louisville. Our squad now numbers 22 players.

I had a chance to chat with Kristian yesterday and asked him how he felt about Keith Cardona's performance on Saturday. Kristian thought he handled himself very well and looked comfortable, despite all the attacking there were not to many testing shots but overall he thought it was a very good performance. I also asked him out of curiosity what it is like to be the bench keeper in a game and brought up the point about last year's home win over Minnesota when Kristian rolled his ankle and for a moment it looked like Dawson may have to come into the game.. "It's very tough in a situation like that, you have very little time to prepare and you are just rushed on, I have been in this position before in the past and it's very difficult because you have no time to mentally and physically prepare yourself, you're just off the bench cold and in, its pretty tough." I also posed the question of what it is like to sit for 90 minutes as a reserve keeper knowing most of the other guys have a good chance of getting some time but the keeper probably won't? "When I was younger I had to play behind a first keeper for a couple of years and you have to watch every minute, you can't just read a book or something, you have to be able to read the game and get to learn the habits and capabilities of the players you will be behind at some point in time, so you have to concentrate and pay attention to everything, it's part of learning the game"

Whether Kristian will start the game against Minnesota or not is another question, and I am not so forward to ask players compromising questions like that, because they probably will not know anyway. I am pretty sure he will be in the 18 man roster for the game though. Which brings us to who is likely to be out and who will be in this Saturday. With Cardona being given the nod in goal last week and Kristian being back, it is likely we will not require a third keeper on the bench, in games prior to Jacksonville we have had two keepers on the bench because injuries have limited us to only 18 players available. With Pineda also returned from injury this probably means I don't think we will see Jon Dawson or new boy in blue Daniel Keller suit up for this game. Judson McKinney and Kleberson remain injured, if McKinney does become available I also doubt that he would suit up for this game.

Expected 18 man roster for the match: Kristian Nicht, Keith Cardona, Jaime Frias, Kyle Hyland, Marco Franco, Cory Miller, Greg Janicki, Erick Norales, Victor Pineda, Osman Melgares, Brad Ring, Sergio Pena, Dragan Stojkov, Dylan Mares, Don Smart, Charlie Rugg, Brian Brown and Wojciech Wojcik.

UPDATE: Dragon Stojkov out for 1 to 2 weeks with ankle injury.

Minnesota have had an uncharacteristically bad start to the season, their last five games are DDLDW, they achieved their first win of the year last week at home to Atlanta with a solitary goal from Pablo Campos. Minnesota have played two of the same teams as Indy have, Atlanta being one and they also drew 2-2 with San Antonio Scorpions at home. So both Indy and MNU have taken 4pts from their shared opponents. Both teams have scored only 5 goals and conceded 5 goals and sit level in the table on 6pts, Indy with the away win edge has them sitting atop Minnesota. MNU have score all 5 of their goals in their last three matches, and will be keen to add to that now that they find themselves playing catchup, they're going to make this a difficult game. The only injury of note to Minnesota is Ibson the Brazilian central midfielder. Minnesota play with an adaptable formation, more often than not with one forward and when attacking its various shapes around a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, when they defend they defend closer to a 4-4-2 shape. not an easy team to describe and it's easier just to say that when they have possession they move forward in numbers and are very dangerous much like Jacksonville were, they are stacked with quality many of who most people are aware of like Ibarra, Ramirez, Campos, Pitchkolan, Alhassan etc. Not all has been going their way this season so far though, so Indy can look to take advantage of a team still not yet fully settled. Ramirez top scorer for MNU last year was dropped too the bench due to poor form last week and we may see Campos starting up top again this week. They are dangerous, I don;t expect this game to be as straightforward as our first ever home win last fall.

As for how Indy will start, at the moment it's any ones guess. My hope is we will not tinker too much, because of the way Minnesota attacks I would like to see us move away from the 4-4-2 diamond at the start of this game. I would like to see us play with a 4-5-1 formation and play a little higher up the field, Minnesota play a very high line and they will try to keep us pushed into our own half, we need to make sure we don't concede to being pinned in and play too deep like we did in the first half at Jacksonville. However we start I hope that we concentrate on being relaxed and just play the best we can and keep the ball on the ground, I am still confident we have very good players in every position and they all are technically very capable, we just need that click to happen and I think it will and it may well in this game. We are coming of the back of two very disappointing games and we need a little bit of that confidence we showed in periods during the Cosmos and Scorpions games, don't force the game, start with a sensible formation and feel the way into the game. If it was up to me I would start with out regular back four of Franco, Janicki, Norales, Frias and play Pena and Ring in front of them, I would start with Melgares and Stojkov at left and right and Mares in front of the midfield and I would start Brian Brown at the top. I think Wojcik has been great so far but my concern about starting him in this formation is players would be too keen to look up and see him as a target and start bypassing the midfield with long balls again. If the game is going our way we can change the attack formation later. As for goal, any ones guess, something tells me for one more game we may give Cardona another start and sit Kristian on the bench, but it's very hard to tell, the good thing is I am kind of comfortable with either but I, like a lot of others like to see Nicht pump up the crowd and the players, so we shall see. I definitely think we have more than enough ability to win this game, I am feeling good despite my rant last week, I think we have a win coming.

The only other thing to worry about is the weather, right now it looks like it will for sure be wet most of the day, so pack a raincoat or a poncho, there are literally chances of thunderstorms all day and night. Keep fingers crossed. Bring extra beer in case its a rain out :P

Looking quickly at the other games this weekend, Ottawa is on their bye week. I think Atlanta V Jacksonville will likely be a draw, its a tough one to call, JAX are playing well and about due at least a point on the road. I think Cosmos will continue to dominate and give Carolina a lesson. I think Tampa will get back to normal this week but win by an odd goal against the Strikers and I think that will be a high scoring game, possibly a 3-2 or even 4-3 but I think TBR will edge it. Edmonton back at home again, I still am calling them my Dark Horse, and despite having played midweek in the Amway cup and drawing 1-1 with Vancouver, I don't think tiredness will be an issue, I expect Edmonton to take three points and beat San Antonio.

Lastly thanks to everyone who took time to read this blog, hit over 350 wasn't expecting that, if you have time maybe you could give our podcast a listen on the right, we will likely have at least one each week. Also over the next week or so we will be doing a Podcast special on local NPSL team Indiana Fire who start their Midwest Conference 2015 games on May 22nd at Lansing United, with 2 or 3 guest from the team.

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