Thursday, April 7, 2016

It's a 2014 Clash Reunion! Indy Eleven V Ottawa Fury Preview (04/09/2016)

Several ex-Fury players looking for a win!
By: James Cormack

The “Class of 2014” as the two teams are often collectively known as, are preparing for a clash reunion this Saturday night as Ottawa Fury come to Indianapolis for Indy Eleven’s home opener of the 2016 NASL season.

Since their inception both teams have led quite different paths. In 2014 both teams struggled somewhat, not surprising for any ‘new’ team. Indy and Ottawa finished on the same combined points with 27.

In 2015 Indy was the team that got off to a more positive start in spring, but it would be Ottawa whose progress chart went through the roof as the year progressed.

Ottawa went on to a place in the Soccer Bowl final which they lost to New York Cosmos. Indy Eleven finished ninth in the combined standings as they had done the previous year. Both teams have drastically changed in 2016. 

Indy have overhauled their coaching setup and their roster including taking three players, Colin Falvey, Sinisa Ubiparipović, and Nicki Paterson from the Ottawa side. When Indy kicked off against Tampa last weekend, only one starter on the field, Brad Ring, played in the opening game of 2014.

Ottawa Fury have had one of the biggest roster overhauls in the league. Marc Dos Santos the coach of 2015 has moved on and Paul Dalglish has taken over. In Fury's opening game last weekend, not a single player from their inaugural NASL match was in the lineup or on the bench. The only remaining player from their start in 2014 is Carl Haworth and he was not listed in the game roster.

Although Indy Eleven don’t have any real recognized rivalries in the NASL, I think Ottawa comes pretty close to one. Combine the fact we started in the league together with them having defeated us five times from six and Indy now having signed three of their Soccer Bowl team from 2015, there is a pretty good edge to this matchup!

Of all the teams Indy Eleven has played in the NASL, it may surprise some to know that Ottawa has scored more goals against us than any other team so far. A total of 16 goals against (and 8 for Indy) in all six previous encounters. Ten of those goals have been scored in Indianapolis. Surely there is some payback required here!

Ottawa Fury defeated Indy Eleven in all three matches played in the 2015 NASL season! These two sides have never been involved in a drawn game!

How the teams may line up…..

Honestly I am not expecting a lot of change in the Indy Eleven side if any at all. Jair Reinoso is starting to look like a very strong option in attack, whether he has enough time yet and whether Coach Hankinson will want to displace anyone for him is another matter.

I still think Nemanja Vukovic looks more comfortable at center back than he does out left, but all in all the Indy defense did very well in the previous game. I don’t think there will be any tinkering, if there is it will most likely either be in the wide midfield or possibly some rotation in the back line, 'if' Tim Hankinson has a mind to. I don't think so. We’ll see.

The 18 man roster for the match will likely remain the same, as of this moment there is no new information about injuries or illnesses, Indy returned from Florida unscathed.

Ottawa only managed to field 5 substitutes for their opening 3-0 defeat to New York, one goalkeeper and four outfield players, none of which were defenders. Ottawa started the match the only three recognized defenders and used midfielder Lance Rozeboom as a makeshift center.

I cannot find out any information about former Tampa back Rich Balchan, he did not travel, unknown whether he will be available for the game, or fit to start. English defender Onua Obasi is contracted to finish playing with MASL team Baltimore Blast and will not be available until April 16th. Defender Kyle Venter is out through injury for up to 8-10 months.

Unless Balchan returns Ottawa may be reduced to playing three recognized defenders again. Striker Carl Haworth, the only player left from 2014 is also injured. Ottawa played a 4-3-3 against the Cosmos and from back to front their left and right players played pretty wide. it is likely we will see a similar lineup against Indy, the only changes may come in formation or midfield personnel if any.

Ottawa Fury have added to their midfield this week with the signing of Uruguayan Bryan Olivera, so they have a possibility of having a deeper bench on Saturday.

This match is a cast iron opportunity for Indy to take three points, based on my viewing of both teams opening games, I do not see Ottawa scoring in this game, their best chance would be from a cross, corner or set piece or wild shot from distance. If Indy Eleven can score one goal we will win, not a big ask.

Caleb Ramp's take on the game.......

Reflecting on the importance of every match in a 10-game season is a redundant, played out, cliche narrative. Yet with this team -- in this spot -- I don't think we can overstate how critical it is for Indy Eleven to secure a victory on Saturday.

Having successfully executed the defensive gameplan in Tampa required to earn a point, week two offers nothing but opportunity: Opportunity for Colin Falvey, Nicki Paterson, and Siniša Ubiparipović to exact revenge on their former team. Opportunity for the fans to witness a squad of experienced players who feed off the energy from the stands, and can turn that energy into results. Opportunity for Tim Hankinson to prove that he's truly brought the club into a new era.

Now is the time to kick start the 2016 campaign. Now is the time for this squad to distance themselves from the frustration and futility which has plagued the club since its inaugural season. Defeating the Fury (a team, on paper, Indy should be able to handle with relative ease) not only puts the Eleven in a position for a possible Spring title push, but services as quantifiable evidence that 2016 will be different -- an invaluable confidence boost for players, fans, and ownership.

I anticipate a near-identical lineup to last week (only potential change from Hankinson might be Reinoso starting over Lacroix, depending on the former's fitness), but mentally we'll be approaching this game much differently. We'll be looking to get on the front foot right out of the gate and maximize meaningful possession. We should see the fullbacks push forward early and often, and their average position ultimately sit at or even beyond the halfway line.

Finally, Ottawa showed a susceptibility to the quick counter in their opener against the Cosmos, while Indy leads the league in interceptions. Expect a lot of reversals of play, with early balls played into space as Indy looks to get on the break and take advantage of this weakness.

2014 Indy Eleven would lose this game outright. 2015 Indy Eleven would establish a first half lead but concede an 80th minute equalizer. 2016 Indy Eleven? It's time for these players on this squad to write their own narrative.

Hopefully they write something worth reading.

For the 2016 NASL Season we have teamed up with Éamon Zayed and Playworks Indiana to raise money for children's charity. For every goal that Éamon scores this year in all competitions we will be donating a cash amount to Playworks. We encourage you to help with this initiative even if just a dollar per goal.

Please CLICK HERE for more details,if you would like to take part and pledge an amount per goal, please send an email to with your $ amount per goal and name, we will inform you closer to the end of the season how you can make your donation. For more information on Playworks you can visit their website here. Please share details of this using hashtag #EamonZayedRule.

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