Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's time to up the stakes - Carolina Railhawks V Indy Eleven PREVIEW (8/20/2016)

The last time these teams met Indy won the NASL Spring Championship

By: James Cormack

I am not going to bore you too much as I have written about this before, but on Saturday night Indy Eleven will face a team who's fate since Indy Eleven's inauguration appears to be that of being intrinsically intertwined with key moment's in our team's short history.

What have the Carolina Railhawks done for us lately?

  • On the 12th of April of 2014 the Carolina Railhawks were our first ever opponents in the NASL, our inaugural game ended in a 1-1 draw with goals from Mike Ambersley and Zack Schilawski
  • On the 12th of July in 2014 Carolina kindly gave us our first ever NASL win, and it was away from home, Indy Eleven won 2-1 with goals from Ben Spencer and Don Smart and were greeted as heroes at Indy International Airport.
  • On the 11th of June 2016 in the only meeting of these teams this year, Carolina fell by four goals to one in Indianapolis giving us the Spring Championship and our first ever trophy.
By quirk of fate in NASL scheduling, in the seven times these teams have met, five of those games have been in Indianapolis, on Saturday night Indy Eleven will play at WakeMed Stadium for only the third time in eight games since April of 2014. In the overall record Indy Eleven are 3-2-2, in the two games we have played in North Carolina we have won one and lost one.

Last 9 for each team, away for Indy and home for Railhawks

From the table above, disregarding USOC games or friendlies, we can see that Carolina Railhawks have only won one of their last six NASL games against Tampa Bay. With five home draws wrapped around that their last home defeat was in May losing 3-1 to Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Indy Eleven's road record could be better, it has to be said, and we've said it before. While we can rejoice in a Spring Championship and also be happy we are still top, our team is one that is always looking to improve and have openly confessed at aiming to win the Fall as well. To achieve that we need more wins away from home. So far we only have one to date, a 2-1 win over Rayo OKC back in April. Indy has one point from three road games in fall.

We're not getting big headed and we are not getting carried away, our team is one that has strived to win all it can and break any record it can, so to not take the opportunity to recognize an area where we can improve would be a failure. We need more away wins and with games at Carolina and Ottawa before heading to New York we have a cast iron opportunity to do just that.

Why is winning the Fall Championship important? Why do we need to win this?

Well from a selfish perspective as a supporter, it means Indy Eleven can play both a semi-final playoff and a final in Indianapolis as hosts should they be successful enough, by hook or by crook if Indy make the final I am going to be there, but I would appreciate not having to travel to get there.

There is another very important reason however, playoff games are a big attraction and for Indy Eleven to have both games in Indianapolis is huge for the sport in this state. The playoffs will bring national and international attention and no doubt sellout crowds. We pride ourselves on being a sports city and a sports state, winning an NASL Soccer Bowl in our own house adds to that legacy and also grows the support for the game in Indiana ensuring new supporters for the future while delighting the faithful who stuck with the team since the first kick.

Just being an undefeated home team may not be enough, drawing multiple games away from may also not be enough. Indy Eleven needs to win more games on the road to meet their ultimate goal. FC Edmonton who are snapping at our heels with a game in hand have won three games on the road in 2016, granted they don't have a playoff berth while we do, but in order to keep them behind us we need to win some of these road games.

Carolina Railhawks have conceded 10 goals in their last 5 NASL games, without any disrespect their current form is not good. Indy knows they have put four goals past them, the 'new age' Indy Eleven that is, as we know this is a totally different from the last two seasons. There is no reason why we cannot win this game.

Indy Eleven need to treat road games like any other, this is the NASL, we don't face many intimidating crowds, we don't need to be nervous, we are not going to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona. I am sure Tim Hankinson also would like to crack this code and win more games away. If we can raise ourselves to beat the Cosmos, we can score 4 when we need to and win the Spring Championship, if we can win those games like Rayo OKC last week to keep ourselves ahead of the chasing pack, then we can apply the same attitude and win in Carolina also. We need to prove that we can do that.

Lineups, predictions,  and Eamon Zayed's Quest for the Golden Boot...

For anyone present at our last home game you will know that Duke Lacroix was still wearing a plastic boot, and it is unlikely we will see him feature in this game. Colin Falvey scored the winning goal against Rayo but was noticeably hobbling after the game, no news on that but hopefully not serious. 

Colin has played through pain before and is likely to start, but don't be surprised if Cory Miller appears in the starting lineup if Tim Hankinson feels Falvey requires rest with upcoming up in Ottawa and New York. Marco Franco should be recovered enough to make the bench.

Otherwise Indy Eleven are in relatively good shape. The question in my head this week is whether Justin Braun will start or not, he was carrying a knock but should be fit to start this game, whether injured or not was he due for a seat on the bench? That may be open for interpretation, but he is likely to be hungry for game time and this may be the right time to put him in.

The difference in this meeting from the last will take place mostly in midfield, it may be that Dylan Mares is the only starting midfielder (and he likely will start this one) from the last encounter. Due to injury Brad Ring did not start, Gorka Larrea and Nicki Paterson filled the middle. Torrado was unveiled at the game but not eligible to play. Omar Gordon started on the left. Should Don Smart start again the Railhawks will face an entirely different midfield machine.

Possible Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Janicki, Falvey, Vukovic, Mares, Ring, Torrado, Smart, Zayed, Braun,

Subs: Cardona, Franco, Miller, Gordon, Paterson, Ubiparipovič, Youla

Éamon Zayed has not hidden the fact that he wants to win the NASL Golden Boot this year. Minnesota United played in midweek and Cristian Ramirez scored again. Éamon sits on 11 goals for the season so far, two behind Ramirez, so he has something to chase. Saturday would be a good time for another hat trick, that might not happen but I feel Zayed will score in this game. Zayed has scored two hat tricks in 2016 and in the games those were achieved in Éamon started up front with Justin Braun, who also scored one of his own in each.

Prediction: I think Indy Eleven will win, it will be close and I'll go with 2-1, goals from Zayed and possibly Don Smart getting his second goal in consecutive games. A repeat of Indy Eleven's first ever NASL victory. We need these three points and we are more than capable of achieving them.


As ever we are continuing to raise money for Playworks Indiana along with Permanent Relegation and the goal scoring exploits of Éamon Zayed. So far we have been pledged $33.50 for every goal Éamon scores in 2016, so far he has notched 12 across the NASL and Open Cup for a total of $402. Thanks to generous donations at tailgates and watch parties we raised a further $554Permanent Relegation's Game of Kings tournament also raised a whopping $912 bring us to a total of $1868 so far, but we have not met our target yet and we want to smash it, if you would like to help us with this great cause CLICK HERE for more information on how you can donate!!! Please share our effort and use the hashtag #EamonZayedRule on social media.

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