|Sometimes things can get a little feisty!|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven play their second of a three road game series in Ottawa on Sunday. Last week in North Carolina we had a chance to improve upon a deteriorating away record, we took the lead twice and lost it twice and let in three goals for the first time in a competitive match in 2016.
Over the next week Indy Eleven will play two back to back games on the road, first against the Fury and next Wednesday against a New York Cosmos team battling for the fall championship, the Cosmos now have four wins and a draw at home in the second half of the season.
I would never dismiss the fact that Indy are having their best year ever, we have already qualified for the playoffs and I guess one could feel results right now are not that important. Coach Hankinson and the team don't think that way though, and have been public and vocal about wanting to continue improving and win the fall championship to give us home advantage should we make the Soccer Bowl.
The fall season is a 22 game stretch, it is far different from the spring, and I highly doubt that a team can win it without gaining some wins on the road, or at least a points accumulation from draws, I mean it's not impossible if you win all your home games, but I I honestly don't think we can win fall unless we improve our away record. Which for fall alone is poor.
After four away games in fall Indy Eleven have the second worst record in the league with one point gained in Puerto Rico and three straight defeats at Minnesota, Miami and Carolina. Only Tampa Bay have a worse record by virtue of Indy having one more goal scored in their favor.
Focusing on Ottawa briefly, since a 1-0 defeat to Indy Eleven at the beginning of the month, they suffered another further two defeats and a scoreless draw at home last weekend to Miami. They have scored 2 goals in their last four games. This doesn't mean they can be taken lightly, Miami are a hot team right now and they failed to score a single goal on their trip north.
How does one approach the next THREE games?
We are focusing on road games, but it should be pointed out after we play Ottawa on Sunday we have a quick turnaround and I will assume we travel straight to New York to play them on Wednesday, we then have to come home and face Tampa Bay Rowdies on the following Saturday.
Given that Ottawa are in a slump and probably the lesser of the next three teams we face, and considering the Rowdies have the worst road record in the fall season, if I am Coach I am concentrating my efforts on the matches in Ottawa and at home to Tampa Bay. Points are premium right now and you have to focus on where you can get the most.
Given the fact there is very little time to train or rest between playing Ottawa and New York, coming off a weeks rest I would be looking at going all out for the win in Canada and letting the match in New York take care of itself. If we decide to make too many changes and rest players for Ottawa, we risk losing both of the next two games.
The game in Carolina has gone, we blew it, but we have the potential to take at least six points from the next three games if we play our cards smart. Ottawa also come off the back of a midweek game and have less time to rest and prepare for this game. We go for the win on Sunday, rotate players in New York and take do what we can allowing some rest for starters to face Tampa in the following game.
So how do we lineup for this game, and the next?
Again this is only my opinion, but if I am coach there are a few positions and a few considerations I am looking at, we have some players returning needing game time, and all of our players are capable winners, and we also can afford to experiment a little and still win.
Justin Braun and Marco Franco will continue to be missing, probably for both of these road games, but could be an added bonus when we come to play Tampa. The biggest question for me surrounds Colin Falvey, I correctly called that he would not play in Carolina, but the next two games are a a little more tricky to call.
My decision, and I have changed my mind on this would be to play him against Ottawa if we need to and not risk him in a potentially much tougher game in New York and avoid the risk of further aggravating a hamstring before facing Tampa at home.
The question is I suppose.. do we need to risk Colin at all when we can afford to let recover more before returning home? If he does take part in a game I feel it will be on Sunday, otherwise he will be a "there if needed" player on the bench.
The only other areas I would tinker with in the match against Ottawa would be in the front pairing and possibly in midfield. To date our best option has been Zayed and Braun, and although at time it has been fruitful I think we need to try other options. Youla has pedigree but I don't think the pairing with Zayed has shown enough to prove it is something the will provide an edge come playoff time.
I would like to see either Duke Lacroix or Jair Reinoso given a role as support forward to Éamon. Jair has not played since coming on in the 2-1 defeat to Miami last month, if he is fit and ready to play then I would include him in this road double header.
I have alway wanted to see how Duke would play from the middle of the park as a second forward, he is quick, very difficult to take the ball from and has great distribution and I think it would at least be worthwhile to see how he could play alongside Zayed.
As for the midfield, I might be tempted to rest Torrado and start Paterson with Ring, otherwise I would not tinker too much. In our last three wins Mares and Smart have started left and right on two of them, Mares missed on through no fault of his own, that was the game against Ottawa and as we know he entered the game in the second half and provided the assist for Don Smart's late winner. So for me Mares and Smart need to start.
My Starting XI: Busch, Vukovic, Janicki, Falvey, Palmer, Mares, Ring, Paterson, Smart, Lacroix (or Reinoso), Zayed.
Traveling Bench: Cardona, Miller, Torrado, Gordon, Youla, Keller (or Ubiparipović), Reinoso (or Lacroix)
Obvious omission from the previous game is Ubiparipović, a player who I respect and has great creative skill, but if we are not going to use him within the system we are playing then I would spare him for the Tampa game and allow for us to have Miller who can play center or right and Keller who can fill in at left and right back on the bench.
I would also have no problem with taking Ubi and omitting Keller. I would like to see Indy Eleven try something of a 4-4-1-1 formation and allow for Lacroix/Reinoso to be the support forward or attacking midfielder role, and Siniša can readily fit into that role if required later in a game.
We need someone in the pocket, the area in front of the the 18 yard box who can be creative, set up the target man or spread the ball to the corners and also be on hand to mop up and score goals off the rebound, I think Lacroix/Reinoso/Ubi are all capable of filling that role. We do have the option to use a different roster for the NYC game should we wish players to fly out for just that game, but I suspect the squad we see in Ottawa will be the same squad we see in New York.
As ever we are still raising money for Playworks Indiana, if you would like to come out and have some fun and meet the Playworks staff and learn more about what they do then join us tomorrow (Sat Aug. 27th) from 2pm to 4pm. It will be a relaxing time of fun for all ages, run around, play some games, kick a ball and maybe score a goal. The event will take place at Broad Ripple Park READ ABOUT IT HERE!
If you can't make it but would like to help us reach our season long goal of $2000 for Playworks Indiana you can find out more about this project involving Éamon Zayed and Permanent Relegation by CLICKING HERE there is a link on this page to our secure donation page, every dollar helps.