|Former 'Fury' Nicki Paterson gets second chance to defeat former club.|
By: James Cormack
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Indy Eleven's first home league game of 2016. And a lot of focus was put on that game, Indy Eleven signed three players from Ottawa Fury in the off season, Colin Falvey, Siniša Ubiparipovicć and Nicki Paterson. It was a game they wanted to win, it was a game some said we would win and it ended in a 1-1 draw.
Indy Eleven's home opener was much anticipated, a lot of changes had been made and to most our team did not look ready at the time of their first round game against Tampa Bay Rowdies, but like we have seen countless times this year Indy dug it out and came away unscathed from a potential Soccer Bowl favorite.
Hankinson's team was in it's infancy as far as competitive play was concerned and much had been made about the "fire sale" at Ottawa Fury, most of their Soccer Bowl final team of 2015 were gone and a new coach Paul Dalglish had taken over. Most people looked forward to opening the season at Carroll Season with a bang, but the game itself ended up somewhat anticlimactic.
Things have changed for both teams, more so for Indy but Ottawa Fury have also ran into a purple patch. The much talked about 4-2-3-1 formation was not working for Hankinson and Indy needed change. After draws against Tampa and Ottawa the Eleven had the unenviable task of entertaining 2015 champions the New York Cosmos, a team who started their season by defeating Ottawa Fury 3-0.
Coach Tim Hankinson proved during the match against Ottawa he could change plans in game and grind out a result, having gone a goal down he changed the formation twice during the game to a 4-4-2 and then to a back three allowing Vukovic to advance his position and score the equalizing goal.
The following week Indy Eleven moved to a 4-4-2 formation in an effort to find a better solution and it worked, despite going behind to the Cosmos once again through a penalty, we came from behind to defeat the New York Cosmos and claim first blood in a match up that had produced only draws until that point.
From this point both teams proceeded in different directions, Ottawa mostly struggled to stay off the bottom of the table during Spring and as we know Indy Eleven went on to remain undefeated and win the Spring Championship. That was then, this is now, Indy are still the team to beat but Ottawa Fury are on the back of three straight 2-0 victories. Should we be worried.... of course not, but we also cannot afford to be complacent.
So what about Ottawa Fury, what's changed...?
The Fury have won their last three games, and without wishing to lessen the glory of that, one was against the forever slipping backwards Jacksonville Armada and the other two were at home against Carolina and Tampa Bay, two teams scratching their heads over indifferent results and inconsistency. All three wins have been 2-0 victories, the Fury are still leaking players since the beginning of the season, but something appears to be going right.
In all three of those wins Ottawa have used a 3-5-2 formation with a back three of Malan Roberts, Rafael Alves and Lance Rozeboom. Eddie Edward and Maxim Tissot have played the wide midfield roles, with the exception of Edward not starting the last game but coming on in the second half. No doubt they will be expected to be box to box and support their defense as well as whoever is assigned the defensive role in central midfield, most likely Oliviera or De Guzman or both. Add to that Peiser, one of the best goalkeepers in the league is now behind a defense he can trust as opposed to their edgy situation the last time we met.
Of course talk of formations is completely boring and when you play with personnel like Eddie Edward who can adapt from defense to midfield or vice versa at the drop of a hat then so can the formation. I highly doubt Indy Eleven will be concentrating on it too much. What we can gather from Ottawa and their last three games is we cannot approach them lightly, both teams are used to playing on a similar surface and Ottawa will settle quickly, I highly doubt we will see us scoring 4 or 5 goals in this game, don't expect it.
Despite losing players like De Jong and Steele during the season, Ottawa have found a comfort zone and a recent consistency with the players they have, they have found something that works and they know a win or even a draw against Indy can help bring about a fall surge similar to the one they had in 2015.
Service, Service, Service.....
|Cool as you like, Don Smart will set it on a dime for you!|
As intimated by Éamon Zayed post match on Wednesday we don;t always score 4 or 5 goals in a game because our service is not always as good as it should be. For Indy Eleven to win this game they have to exploit the corners. In the last two games, despite losing one to Miami, Don Smart has been pivotal in providing the forwards with what they need. For me Don Smart is a given as a starter and if he plays the same way as he has done in recent weeks we will have plenty of goal scoring opportunities.
Don Smart and Éamon Zayed have been connecting well, Zayed likes to peel to the left and Don Smart provides mostly from the right. Service from the left will be important as well, who will provide that is a good question. It likely will be Mares again, it could be Gordon or Lacroix if fit or we may try something like Ubiparopović as we did earlier in the season. The reason we can be more adaptable on the left side regardless of who plays is of course because of the overlapping gazelle known as Nemanja Vukovic, our left wing can afford to be less mobile and cut inside allowing Vukovic to move up and share in providing service from the wing.
The other obvious thing that will change this week is something I am interested to see, with the unfortunate suspension of Greg Janicki we'll see Colin Falvey and Cory Miller play at central defense. Cory is up to speed and confident, thanks to the absence of the aforementioned Falvey he has plenty of game time under his belt, so I have no real concerns about our back line going into this match. Miller and Janicki are similar style players and also play better with a leader along side them, my instinct tells me that Falvey will get the best out of Miller and I honestly feel Indy will not concede a goal in this game.
The performance of the back line and our defensive midfield whether Brad Ring or Torrado will be key to allowing our wings, forwards and other midfielder (most likely Paterson) to quick counter and expose Ottawa in the corners. It will be a tough shift for the back line and if they can turn that defense into attack quickly it may be a very difficult night for the Fury.
Rather than try and predict a line up this week I will predict an outcome. Indy will win this game without conceding a goal but it may take time for us to gain the upper hand in the game, we will have to wear Ottawa down, we may not even see the first goal until the second half of the game but I feel we will end up at 2-0 with goals from Zayed and possibly Ring or Paterson.
The main thing is, regardless of the score line, that we win. As I mentioned earlier this year each opponent in this league is a three game series, some we play twice at home, some twice away. If Indy can gain the upper hand as far as points goes in all of their battles then you can pretty much be sure of finishing top of everything before post season.
We don't need to assume anything of Ottawa Fury this time around, and we don't need to underestimate them, we just need to play to our strengths, use the corners, improve our service to the forwards and we will win!
|Cheeky Captain Colin is back and smiling, the timing could not be more perfect with Janicki suspended.|
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 $554. Permanent 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.