|A busy week ahead - Hankinson will need to test the depth of his roster.|
By: James Cormack
It goes without saying there is no such thing as an easy game until that game becomes easy. Indy Eleven make the first of two stops in Florida this Saturday when the play Jacksonville Armada. Indy have to try and win as many points as possible from Jacksonville and Miami in the next two weekends, before facing Carolina in the final home game of Spring.
Indy Eleven will play four games in the next two weeks with a US Open Cup match against Louisville City FC on Wednesday June 1st. Indy will need to use their depth and rotate players to get through this very difficult period.
As mentioned in the Spring Championship analysis the last three winners have finished on 21 and 20 points, the last two seasons have been one with 20pts. 2016 is proving to be closely competitive, it could be won with 19 pts but will depend on the fate of every other team.
Indy Eleven currently sit on 13pts. If they win out they will end with 22pts. Two wins and a draw would see them on 20pts, anything less.... well I don't want to think about that right now. I am happy in the fact that we have already achieved our points total from last spring with three games to spare, and that bodes well for the overall playoff picture.
Jacksonville Armada commenced play in the NASL in 2015 and to date have played Indy Eleven twice in Florida and once in Indy. In the two previous games we have played in Jacksonville we lost the initial game 1-0 and drew the last game 1-1. In three matches against Armada they have only scored two goals against us. The only home tie for Indy saw them destroy Jacksonville 3-0 in September last year.
The most alarming stat for Armada fans is they have lost their last four matches without scoring a single goal. Their only win this season has been at home against Miami FC who are rock bottom of the NASL table. Also, surprisingly, during a very poor period they sold one of their best players Richie Ryan to Miami FC. These are gloomy times for Jacksonville indeed.
The worrying part for Indy is this running into the wounded bear situation. All teams regardless of their current table position need to accumulate points to gain playoff spots through combined standings or winning the fall season. Jacksonville are no different and the longer they go without a win the harder they will try to find one, especially at home.
JAX are still commanding a decent attendance compared to other teams in Florida but it's waning. Their average attendance is dropping, in 2015 their average was 7,927 and the lowest attended match was 5,652.
Armada have played three games at home in 2016 so far, the average attendance is currently 4,647, over 1000 less than their lowest attended game in their inaugural year. They need wins, especially at home to maintain supporter interest.
On top of losing Richie Ryan to Miami, Jacksonville will be without Mechack Jerômé and Pascal Millien who were also missing for the 1-0 defeat Ottawa las weeked. The Haitian pair are both in training camp preparing for a weekend warm up match against Colombia. Both players have been an integral part of the team both this year and last.
Indy Eleven will be without the services of Brad Ring and Greg Janicki this weekend which should mean a start for Cory Miller alongside Colin Falvey. With three games over the next seven days we may see other rotation in the starting line up.
It's not easy to predict Coach Hankinson as we have seen but there may be some surprises, the game can't be taken lightly. Players like Nicki Paterson, Jair Reinoso, Duke Lacroix and possibly Marco Franco may see increased game time on Saturday.
This game obviously is as important as any for the Spring Championship, but we also have a potential tie against MLS side Chicago Fire if we can overcome Louisville next Wednesday. This will no doubt be in the back of Coach's mind and I think we will see our roster depth being tested starting on Saturday night.
It's easy to say on paper that Indy Eleven should win this game. We are still undefeated and no doubt Armada will continue to have problems scoring against our stout defense, but like last week we have to stay strong over 90 minutes and finish our chances. This could be our best chance for three points on the road before the end of spring, if Indy approaches the game with the mindset of not taking our opponent for granted and plays to their best strengths, they undoubtedly can return home with a win!
Despite playing two games on the road in Florida, the Boys in Blue will return home after the weekend match to prepare for their first US Open Cup game of 2016, this is not a season ticket match so make sure you get your TICKETS HERE it's a big game and we need a big crowd for this one!
Highlights from Indy Eleven's 3-0 destruction of Jacksonville in 2015
Éamon Zayed scored his third goal of the season last Saturday. Bloody Shambles along with Permanent Relegation are raising money for Playworks Indiana children's charity with Éamon Zayed. Pledge an amount for every goal he scores this season or make a one time donation and help us towards our $2000 season goal. Find out more here! Our direct DONATION LINK now shows our target and running donations, help us reach it! Get on board before Éamon scores again this weekend!