In the grand scheme of things, to other teams and other supporters in the NASL this game probably means nothing. To supporters of Indy Eleven it means a lot! We have made it through two seasons, albeit unsuccessful and at times painful and this is our last game of 2015, of course we want more reasons to celebrate other than no reason at all!
Indianapolis has established a professional soccer presence in the United States, they also have provided the NASL with one of the best supports in the nation, these are successes. Maybe we have not risen to the challenge on the field as fast as our class of 2014 counterparts Ottawa Fury, but the fact is we are here, we are a thing! We are an achievement and we deserve another win even if it is too late to make any difference.
In terms of the combined 2015 table Indy Eleven can move into 6th place overall by winning. FC Edmonton have played all 30 of their games so Indy can leapfrog them by a point. In the fall standings Indy Eleven currently sit 8th level on points with Tampa Bay who play New York Cosmos, Tampa will be looking to win in New York to ensure the fourth play off spot, but it is also an important game for the home side as they could finish top of the combined table and ensure home field advantage should they make the final. If Indy win and Tampa lose we will finish 7th in the fall season standings.
Had someone told me this would be our finishing positions at the start of the year, obviously I would be disappointed, but it was only a few games ago we looked to be finishing bottom of both the combined and fall season tables. Indy have beaten two of the hottest teams in the league in recent weeks, it would go a long way to showing we can find some consistency by making that three wins from three and defeat a Carolina side at the bottom of the fall standings.
Who's in and who's out......
Players who we will definitely not see in the final game because of injury are Stojkov (shoulder) Rugg (hernia) Richards (ankle) Pineda (ribs) Hyland (adductor strain) and Dani Cuevas (leg fracture).
Listed as questionable are Daniel Keller (adductor strain) McKinney (ankle) and Brad Ring (ankle) and probable are Dylan Mares (knee) Kristian Nicht (Achilles) and Erick Norales (ankle.
I expect almost all of the players listed as questionable or probable to be available for the game. In the last two games we have seen Ring come off the bench so he should be fit enough to play. Cory Miller came on late against Minnesota but did not see game time against the Strikers. With this being the last game coach Regan may or may not decide to switch up the back four depending on the extent of Norales or Janicki's fitness.
I guess one of the biggest question marks will be who plays in goal. Nicht indicated after last weeks game that this was his last game, not sure if this means last game in Indy or last game period. So it is more than possible we will see Keith Cardona keeping the back door closed for Indy tonight.
The starting lineup may end up looking very similar to last week with maybe one or two changes.
Probable XI: Cardona, Franco, Norales, Miller or Janicki, Frias, Ceballos, Ring or Pena, Steinberger, Smart, Mares and Brown. Subs: Dawson, Lacroix, Keller, Wojcik, Miller or Janicki, Ring or Pena, Nicht? possibly McKinney?
The two teams have played each other five times and it is Indy Eleven who have the upper hand in the series with two wins, Carolina has beaten Indy once and there have been two draws.
Recent game form shows Indy Eleven in a more favorable position with two wins, two draws and only one defeat in their last five games, Carolina have three defeats and two wins.
For Carolina this is a return home after two defeats without scoring in Florida against Ft Lauderdale and Tampa. Before that the Railhawks had back to back home wins over Jacksonville and FC Edmonton.
This will by no means be an easy game and I am sure the home team would like to end the season with a win in front of their own supporters. Hopefully Indy Eleven can ruin all that.
If you are in Indianapolis and looking to come out and watch the game the official Indy Eleven watch party will be at Chatham Tap in Fishers, or you can come and watch the game with SH-19 and the BYB at Union Jack's Pub in Broad Ripple.