|There will be more to worry about than low evening sun this Saturday!|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven host Miami FC at Carroll Stadium for the first time on Saturday. The two sides have already met twice this year, both times at FIU Stadium. The first meeting in Spring provided a 0-0 draw in their 8th game of spring, it was a game that could have seen Indy Eleven wrap up the spring title a little easier one week before defeating Carolina Railhawks 4-1 at Carroll Stadium.
The second meeting was Indy Eleven's third road game of the fall season, the home side won 2-1 and inflicted Indy Eleven's second defeat of the year after losing their previous road game in Minnesota. Dariío Cvitanich opened the scoring in the fourth minute, Ariel Martinez put Miami 2-0 up late in the game before Éamon Zayed pulled one back.
Miami FC have been ever changing since the spring season, they have just about bought everything that has not been nailed down, their roster now numbers 29 and they are still adding. Hunter Freeman joined Miami FC recently from New York Cosmos. They have their sights on an "all or bust approach" and they are getting the results they need.
Outside of a surprise defeat at home to Fort Lauderdale on August 13th, Miami are now 6-2-1 in their last nine games, they probably now have the most enviable road record in fall as well, in their last six games away from home they are undefeated and have gathered a huge 14pts from a possible 18. Those wins included a 4-0 thrashing of Minnesota and 2-0 win in Edmonton. Miami FC are proving they don't care where they play, they play to win everywhere.
|The last six games for either side, Miami are the form side coming into this game.|
Both sides have played 4 away and 2 home, Miami FC have 14pts to Indy's 2.
While Indy Eleven fell flat in Florida last week Miami FC defeated Puerto Rico on the road to jump ahead of us into third place. On Wednesday they defeated second place team FC Edmonton and relegated them to third. Miami FC are aiming for the top and they still have a game in hand over the Cosmos and Indy.
As we know Indy Eleven have not been as fruitful in recent games and are struggling to fight off the title of worst road team in the NASL currently. Indy Eleven have not won a game in their last five, the last victory came against Rayo OKC at home on August 13th. Most of our games since then have been on the road, four of the last five with one home game against Tampa, we have taken 2pts in that time with an 0-2-3 showing.
The match against Miami is the first of the three game run that will see Indy Eleven play each of the current top three in the NASL Fall Table. It's going to be tough, and it has arrived at a point in time where Indy can pull themselves out of a slump or sink further into it.
The Eleven have no had two weeks where they have not played a midweek game, allowing for some regeneration, coach Hankinson has indicated that training has been more intense but the duration of training sessions has shortened to allow the players more rest. Hopefully this works for us because we have looked visibly tired and slow in recent games. Fitness and stamina will be critical facing a team in this kind of form.
Injury/Roster team updates....
Greg Janicki is the only player listed as officially out for this game. Cory Miller is available for this game after personal leave, whether he will oust Daniel Keller from the starting back position remains to be seen, I suspect he will.
Brad Ring and Omar Gordon came off early in last weeks game in Fort Lauderdale but neither have been reported as concerns. The biggest question will be whether Tim Hankinson wants to field the strongest possible team and maintain an attempt to win the fall season, or do we rotate and get players valuable game minutes before we reach the playoffs.
Considering the form of Miami FC and the attacking formation they play it would not surprise me if we adopt a more midfield heavy approach and elect to go with one striker up top, just a hunch and I may be completely wrong. Miami had the luxury of being able to play players like Campos and Cvitanich off the bench on Wednesday, Cvitanich scored within a minute of being on the field. Both of these players pose a great threat, Hankinson is well aware of Campos as he was his target man at San Antonio.
So the chances are we will go 4-5-1 and play more defensively for at least a portion of the game, or we will continue with the 4-4-2 and a similar lineup to that which found success in Spring. My feeling is we may elect to leave someone like Braun on the bench and save his pace for later in the game. Considering the 4-4-2 which is more usual and that we may need some fresh legs and rotation I will offer up the following.....
My Starting XI - Busch, Franco, Miller, Falvey, Vukovic, Smart, Ring, Paterson, Lacroix, Braun, Zayed.
Subs: Cardona, Palmer, Keller, Mares, Gordon, Torrado, Reinoso
I do have a sneaky feeling we may see Ubiparipović on the bench, and if we do decide to go 4-5-1 it would not surprise me to see him start in front of Ring/Paterson or Ring/Torrado and behind Zayed. We need play time for all our players, Siniša and Jair Reinoso probably need this more than most looking forward to the post season.
We want to win all our games obviously, this and the two after are going to be very very tough, Indy Eleven are going to have to lift themselves and do everything they can just to maintain their unbeaten home record, to me that is more achievable than being fall champions. If I am given a draw now I'll take it, a win will be a bonus. We can win this game, but it will be as difficult as any game we have faced in 2016. The team we knew as "scared of nobody" are going to have to step up to the plate tomorrow!
Don't forget 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.