|Hard to keep a tough guy down!|
If I was the coach of Jacksonville I'd be more than a little concerned about playing Indy in September. Coincidentally after drawing 2-2 with Tampa in Spring it was Indy coach Juergen Sommer who headed for the exit!
As said in the review for the Tampa game and in discussion on our podcast, every game is a must win for Indy right now, especially our home games, taking 3 off Tampa was vitally important as they are one of the top four teams in the combined standings right now.
Our team stepped up big, they pretty much had to, the supporters and the organization deserve it after the performance we gave at home to Ottawa. The main thing is they did exactly what had to be done, win three points and restore confidence in the team, keeping a clean sheet and scoring twice goes a long way to help that.
Despite a 0-0 scoreline after the first half on Wednesday, the football on display was still very good. We were solid at the back, we moved the ball well, kept it on the ground and played better passes into forward areas. I was very happy to see Lacroix and Steinberger starting, both acquitted themselves very well throughout the game and both came very close to opening the scoring in the first half.
Kristian Nicht stood up tall for us throughout the whole game, great save in the first half from Maicon in the 17th to keep that game at 0-0, and one or two great diving stops in the second half ensured that Indy would be the only team scoring goals that night.
The second 45 was probably one of the best we have ever played, and the bad news for Tampa was we were making very good use of our final ball, this game could have ended 4 or 5 to zero. We played much better low passes across goal and a lot less hopeful chips and long ball.
Both of Indy's goals were a joy to watch. The first in the 60th minute so a nicely timed ball from center by Keller out wide to Dane Richards who took a touch and slammed the ball low and hard into the opposite corner past Pickens.
In the 70th minute it was Richards again who was causing trouble from the right, drawing a foul on Tampa outside of the 18. Erick Norales might not be the first person you think of to take the set piece but he did and struck it simply and beautiful. Over the wall and into the right side of the net, it looked so easy.
Two goals was enough to see us through to the end, luckily we had no rain delay, but right on the final whistle the heavens opened and chucked down a million tons of water on the already miserable Tampa side, pretty sure everyone was quite happy getting wet.
I don't have the advantage of being able to re watch the match at home this week, difficult to pick out the MVP of the game, everyone played as good as I could have hoped for, but have to give shout out to our back line and Kristian, they were solid all night, especially Norales and Miller, I'd have to split it between the two of them.
Atlanta Silverbacks V Indy Eleven...... here we go again already!!
The win against Tampa puts Indy Eleven within five points of the the top four combined standings. Still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done but Indy just have to treat every game as one that they must win. Atlanta are not a better team than us, we saw that in our last game despite them scoring the only goal, they were a poor looking side, unfortunately we were poorer on the day.
One interesting statistic between these two teams, Indy Eleven have never lost a game in Atlanta. Back in Spring of 2014 we drew our first game there 3-3. We defeated them 2-1 in the fall game and started this year with a 1-1 draw. In order to make the playoffs Indy has to look at taking all three points in at least of our seven remaining road games.
Atlanta enter this game off of a defeat from Jacksonville, their first in the last 5 games. We know from the 1-0 defeat in our last encounter there is nothing fancy about them, they beat us when were performing really badly. I believe if we just play the same way we did on midweek we can take all three points from this game, and we have some players rested who can start.
Hopefully Tim decides to just change as little as possible, of course that may hinge on the fitness of the players, but for the sake of consistency in this game, just go with something that worked, and at best rest no more than one or two players.
Injuries etc etc....
Sergio Pena, Dylan Mares and Brad Ring will not feature in this game. Erick Norales is listed as questionable, but I know he has travelled so I doubt we would send him down not to play, whether he will start or not is the question. Norales is tough, and you can be sure despite probably a lot of bruising that he wants to play. If he does not then Janicki better put out the performance of his life.
Marvin Ceballos is listed as probable and I am certain we will see him get game time in this match, if he is anything as good as he looked in his debut, this could be bad news for Atlanta.
We have a fully fit and rested Pineda, Brown and Wojcik who did not feature midweek, so if Regan wants to do a little tweaking and bring in fresh legs, we might see one or two of these guys start. Otherwise I think our starting lineup will be very similar if to Wednesday. If Regan does elect to start Victor Pineda, we may see him take up his usual position on the left and possibly Lacroix move into the center and Steinberger drop back to defensive midfield at the expense of Keller.
Alternatively we may see Ceballos come into attacking midfield and Steinberger drop behind and Keller on the bench.
The good thing is we have options, despite having key players like Mares and Ring out, we have some depth right now for this game and we can replace anyone that may get tired after a second game in four days.
Watch out for Lacroix, if he gets to start again I think we will see a goal from him, and also Steinberger, both came very close to finding the net this week, if Richards can show the same productivity again in this game, we should not have problems scoring.
For Atlanta, Pedro Mendes (22) is now on five goals, we know him and we should be able to defend better against him than we did at home. Junior Burgos (33) and Jaime Chavez (9) will need to be watched closely.
My starting lineup would remain the same, assuming that Erick Norales can start the game.
We can do this, just shut them out, play hard for 90, play with guts and don't give up on any ball and stick to the game plan. We can win this game. VAMOS ELEVEN!!!