|Norales and Co need a big game!|
Tampa visit Indianapolis on Wednesday as the only other team in the NASL that we haven't notched a win against. In the four games the teams have played so far there have been three draws and Tampa managed to defeat us once at home in 2014.
Every game for Indy is a must win now if they still hope to have a chance to make the playoffs. Indy Eleven need to start an undefeated streak of their own and that really has to start with Tampa. As I said in the midweek blog, you are sometimes only as good as your last game. Ottawa's long unbeaten streak has gone after suffering a home defeat to Minnesota. Tampa lost in Ft Lauderdale, Atlanta went down against Jacksonville and the Cosmos got back on track with a win over San Antonio.
So a lot can happen in a week. Indy V Tampa will be the only game this Wednesday. A win for Indy would take them off the bottom and above Tampa to 9th in the fall standings. At this stage though it is the combined standings that are more important for the Eleven, three points will take us a little closer to the top four overall.
The form guide.......
Looking at only fall form, there is not too much between these two teams. After a very strong spring for Tampa, they have been tripping and stumbling since the beginning of fall season. Both teams have played 7 games since July 5th. In the last 6 games both teams have only picked up 4 points. However it is the last three games for each team that is most concerning. Tampa with a win a draw and a loss compared to Indy who are now on three straight defeats.
In the four previous encounters between the teams there have been three draws and only one win for Tampa in Indianapolis when they won on July 19th 2014. The last meeting between the two towards the end of spring ended in a 2-2 draw thanks to a wonder strike from Kyle Hyland and three red cards for Tampa Bay.
Obviously Indy are more the team in need of a lucky break, three straight defeats has to hopefully galvanize some determination into the team, especially after suffering their worst ever home defeat. It won't be easy, Tampa are no doubt one of the favorites to win a playoff spot, the circumstances should provide a very tough match for both sides.
Injuries, availability, possible lineups etc..
Sergio Pena is back in light training but is not likely to return for a few games yet. Brad Ring is doubtful for this match and likely will not feature. Marvin Ceballos will be a late decision for this game and may not feature or may start on the bench. Otherwise the rest of the squad is available. Dylan Mares as we know is a long term injury.
Tampa may decide to rest some players, for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of Freddy Adu probably won't get lucky, he likely will not feature in this game but may return for Tampa's next game. Tampa may decide to rest some players on Wednesday with one eye on Saturday's home tie against Minnesota. Tampa will still have a strong team, but some of their better known players may start on the bench.
Tampa usually play an adaptable 4-3-3 formation, Rongen likes to play an attacking style and their formation can change easily when defending or attacking. No doubt they will be expecting us to play a 4-4-2 diamond again, and honestly there is no knowing what we might decide to do. I think our regular formation may find Tampa difficult, like we did Jacksonville in spring.
It might be worth us attempting to play a 4-5-1. Without Ring or Pena it is not easy for us to do if we elect to go with 2 defensive midfielders, this would likely mean us playing Steinberger and Keller behind Lacroix or Richards if Ceballos is not fit. Alternatively we could go with one CDM and play two attacking mids.
If I was picking the lineup I would go the 4-1-4-1 route with one defensive mid and two attacking mids and two wide. Nicht, Hyland, Miller, Norales, Franco, Richards, Stojkov, Steinberger, Lacroix, Pineda and Brown.
Players to watch: If they start, Maicon and Hristov for Tampa, leading in goals and assists for the Rowdies, these are the most likely guys to get on the scoresheet, or put someone else on it.
Hopefully for Indy we will get to see Lacroix start the game, I think he has proved he is worthy and with his pace and trickery he can cause problems for anyone. Also hopefully a fully fit Pineda could be the man to grab us a goal from a dead ball or open play.
We need three, WE WANT THREE!!