|Indy's forward line will be looking for more goals on Wednesday night.|
By: James Cormack
So far in 2016 Indy Eleven have faced all four Florida teams away from home and have drawn all four games against the Rowdies, Miami FC, Jacksonville and the Strikers. While Indy's road is often times a little bumpy away from home, our home record in 2016 is now strong indeed. A win on Wednesday would be the first over a Florida side this year.
NASL can be seen as a collection of mini series of three games between teams (excluding Puerto Rico this year for obvious reasons) and in instances where two of the three are away from home it is important to win at your own ground when you have the chance.
The 2016 schedule has been somewhat kind to Indy giving us two home ties against some of the tougher teams in the league like New York and Minnesota and Indy have made it count in those games so far, last weekend taking six points from two of the games against the Loons. The same schedule will send us to Florida eight times out of twelve match-ups against teams from the Sunshine State.
Indy Eleven are ever improving and it does them no harm to set targets. Last weekend we evened out our record against Minnesota to 4 wins each. In the previous seven encounters with Ft. Lauderdale Strikers we have won two, drawn two and lost three. So we have the opportunity to win this game and tie the all time series between these two teams.
The Strikers seem to have a habit of starting poorly and finishing strong, this was no different in Spring of 2016, looking destined to be bottom dwellers after the first few weeks they turned themselves around and still had a chance to win the Spring Championship in the final weekend.
|Strikers team mates Victor Pineda and Neil Hlavaty face off against each other in 2015 at Carroll Stadium|
Fort Lauderdale are a much changed side to the one Günter Kronsteiner took to the post season two years running in 2014 and 2015, one face we will recognize on Wednesday night is that of Victor Pineda, a key player in the past for Indy Eleven in games against the Strikers. Victor is a solid player and it is not surprising he has carved himself a starting spot in that team.
Strikers start to fall has not been as impressive as their finish in Spring, one that included a defeat of New York Cosmos which proved critical in Indy Eleven's effort to lift the Spring Championship Trophy. A 1-1 draw with local rivals Miami FC and a narrow loss to Edmonton sees them with one point from two games on the fall table and slipping to eighth in the combined season total.
Indy Eleven as we know remain undefeated in the NASL, a streak that has now reached twelve games, the best in the teams history. Indy have taken four points from two games against Puerto Rico and Minnesota and have a chance to top both the Fall and Combined table on Wednesday dependent on other results between the Cosmos and Jacksonville, Rayo OKC and Puerto Rico FC.
When the two teams met in Spring in Florida the match ended 0-0. It was a game that saw probably goalkeeper Jon Busch's finest Indy Eleven performance so far with a string of amazing saves. The Strikers goalkeeper Diego Restrepo had a less exciting evening with only one real shot on target from Nemanja Vukovic, we need to make his job more difficult in this game.
Players to Watch....
|Éamon Zayed (Photo: Lucas Carter)|
FTL Strikers: Maicón Santos has scored 11 goals in two seasons in the NASL for the Rowdies and the Strikers. He has scored in Indianapolis before, last year in the spring rain delay game he put Tampa 2-1 up then promptly received a red card in a heated match before Kyle Hyland's wonder strike leveled the game. He is a big power forward with a wealth of experience and needs to be watched closely.
Indy Eleven: Éamon Zayed was the leading scorer in the league before Christian Ramirez scored a hat trick in the opening fall round. Zayed wants that golden boot. He scored against Pachuca but has not found the net in the first two games of fall. To be the best you have to keep up a good average, and I am confident Éamon can do it and he will be hungry for a goal in this game. It's a good opportunity, the Strikers have conceded 14 this season and 9 of those have been on the road.
Can we expect any changes for Indy Eleven?
As we know Lovel Palmer received a red card at the end of the last game and will miss at least one game making him unavailable for this match, Marco Franco will step in to the back line and most likely alongside the same three of Miller, Janicki and Vukovic. Colin Falvey did not dress for the Saturday game or take part in full training on Friday so it is more likely we may see him back next weekend for the away game at Minnesota.
The whereabouts or availability of Gerardo Torrado are still unknown, he returned home after the Pachuca game to tie up personal affairs and potentially has visa issues at the other end but it is not clear. Who knows though, we may or may not see him in the match roster. Don Smart was ready for minutes in the last game but did not play and should be fully recovered now. Jair Reinoso is still and injury doubt.
I expect us to start pretty much the same lineup and bench, there is no real reason to change anything and everyone acquitted themselves very well against Minnesota, we just need to finish more of our chances, watch that offside line and defend as well as we always do and we'll take a further three points in pursuit of the Fall Championship.
As always Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation are supporting Playworks Indiana children's charity with our #EamonZayedRule initiative. We are donating money for every goal Éamon Zayed scores this year and you can choose to play along or just make a one off donation to help us reach our target of $2000. Click Here for More Information.
Watch out for a new blog with some exciting news coming soon, we have some upcoming events to tell you about including Permanent Relegation's annual Euchre tournament the Game of Kings, which will help raise more money. If you are interested SIGN UP HERE.
Thanks to kind donations at Saturday's BYB Tailgate we have now reached 25% of our goal, but we are still a long way off. Please donate and share amongst friends and help us reach our target by the end of the fall season.