|Players like Jeff McClure and others have stepped up big to put Indy in front in 2016.|
By: James Cormack
It's coming down to the wire again, the NPSL regular season is coming to a close and after a 6-2 win over FC Indiana, the Indy Eleven NPSL team are sitting on top of the table with one game left to play.
Indy are defending Midwest champions and their final game will be against FC Buffalo, a team that missed out on the regional championship in 2015 after our previous incarnation Indiana Fire NPSL nudged them out of the playoff race. it could end up being the biggest game of the season so far, and those are exactly the types of game this team excels in.
The NPSL Midwest Regional championship will be made up of four teams, those four will play out a semi final format before two of them battle it out for the regional trophy. The winner will move on to the National Championship which is played in a similar format between the winning teams from all NPSL regions. Last year Indy lost out to Chattanooga FC in the national semi final in front of an incredible 9000+ crowd.
|Current NPSL Great Lakes East Conference standings as of July 1st 2016|
As a quick rundown of how the Midwest Championship forms up, the top two teams from Great Lakes East and West will play off for the title. Indy Eleven currently top the East by one point over AFC Cleveland and in the West the top two spots are held by AFC Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids FC.
Let's not focus for now on who is in the leading in the West conference and concentrate on the East. As of right now there are only three teams who can claim one of the top two spots in our conference, and that is Indy, AFC Cleveland and FC Buffalo. Indy Eleven are sitting one point in front of AFC Cleveland on 19pts, and are 6pts in front of FC Buffalo but have played one more game than both of those teams. Indy have one more game remaining to play at Buffalo and the simple way to qualify would just be to win that game.
The tiebreaker rules in NPSL start with head to head if two teams are equal on points. Indy and Cleveland have already played twice and both sides have defeated each other on their own ground. Indy lost 1-0 in Cleveland and AFC lost 2-1 in Indy. Indy have already hosted FC Buffalo at home and drew 3-3. The next tie breaker would be goal differential in the had to head and then it would come down to most conference wins, followed by goal difference in the conference and then fewest losses. if none of these can separate two teams then it goes to a coin toss.
|Indy Eleven in action against AFC Cleveland|
Indy Eleven NPSL will have to wait until July 8th to play their final game against FC Buffalo, depending on results from today, we may qualify before that match begins. FC Buffalo have two matches left and a draw or a loss in either of those two means Indy qualify on points. If FC Buffalo win out including defeating Indy then we would lose a tie breaker on head to head results. AFC Cleveland need one more win to ensure qualification. Here are the remaining ties for the top three teams......
Sat. 2nd July 2016
Erie Commodores V FC Buffalo 7.00pm
AFC Cleveland V Rochester River Dogz 7.00pm
Fri. 8th July 2016
FC Buffalo V Indy Eleven NPSL 7.00pm
AFC Cleveland V Erie Commodores 7.30pm
If FC Buffalo fail to win at Erie tonight, Indy Eleven qualifies. If they win at Erie then it comes down to FC Buffalo having to win against Indy next week to qualify, Indy would only need to draw. It is unlikely although not impossible that AFC Cleveland will not take one win with two home games remaining. There is the potential for a tie at the top between Indy and Cleveland if Indy draw in Buffalo next week and Cleveland draw both of their remaining games both teams would finish on 20pts and both would qualify, Indy would concede first place on the fifth tiebreaker which is goal difference in the conference. Indy is currently +5 and Cleveland +12.
Really it comes down to what happens in FC Buffalo's next two games, so keep your eyes on the results.
Should Indy qualify in second place they would play the winner of the West Conference in the first regional semi final, if they win that they will play the winner of the opposite tie, which of course could be AFC Cleveland again in a repeat of last years final. The Midwest finals will take place on July 22nd to 24th, location to be determined (will update when I find out).
Indy Eleven NPSL will need to travel to Buffalo with the best squad of players they have available and a winning attitude, it's an extremely important game and Indy have been in this position before and they know how to pull through when it really counts. There is a chance to win back to back championships in only the third year of the teams existence which is pretty incredible. These boys care and they will win, please continue to support them!
|Indy Eleven NPSL take to the field against FC Buffalo at Grand Park|
If you would like to keep track of results over tonight and next week you can follow the twitter accounts of @IndyElevenNPSL @FCBuffalo @AFCCleveland and @Erie_Commodores you can also follow the NPSL Official Twitter we will also post updates @Bloody_Shambles