Friday, November 11, 2016

Let's Get Ready To Rumble! - New York Cosmos V Indy Eleven PREVIEW Part 2 (11/13/2016)

Indy Eleven and New York Cosmos face off for the fourth and final time in 2016. Winner takes all!

By: James Cormack

In the second part of our preview we are going to give you thoughts and predictions from both sides of the divide. Myself, Brandon Cockrum and Caleb Ramp of Bloody Shambles as well as special guests and good friends Hot Take Louie Hernandez and Eagle Eye Steve Hamlin from This Is Cosmos Country. Be sure to check them out on their website and follow them on twitter.

The stage is set, the weekend is almost here and on Sunday as we all now know Indy Eleven will play the New York Cosmos at Belson Stadium in Queens NY to decide who will be the 2016 NASL Soccer Bowl Champions.

It is a one off game, it's knockout there is no second leg. If the game is tied we will have 30 minutes of extra time followed by a penalty shootout if the score is still level. If you are not traveling to the game you can watch on CBS Sports Network or get along to the watch party at Indianapolis City Market and watch it there.

The general consensus from our own members and Cosmos Country is that both sides will line up at the start as they did for their respective semi finals. Fingers crossed (at least for Indy Eleven) there are no last minute injuries or man-flu attacks!

Expected Starting Lineups for the 2016 NASL Soccer Bowl

If Indy Eleven elect to play the same bench as they did against FC Edmonton then we will see Keith Cardona, Nicki Paterson, Gerardo Torrado, Duke Lacroix, Souleymane Youla, Omar Gordon and Lovel Palmer.

If the Cosmos stick with the same bench as they did against Rayo OKC that will be David Ochieng, Jimmy Ockford, Daniel Szetela, Brian Holt, Yazmani Duk, Jimmy Mulligan and David Diosa.

Anyway, before this article becomes bigger than Belson Stadium (too late) let's get down to business we want to hear the opinion from both sides on what is about to unfold this Sunday. Each person has been posed a set of five questions and asked to predict a final result, and this is what we have to say.......

If you are Tim Hankinson and you are allowed to remove one player from the Cosmos starting lineup, who would you eject, and why?

JAMES: It may be a bit cliché but always take out the leader. Carlos Mendes was the first player signed and he is the captain. Cosmos have many dangerous players but Mendes is there to lead and keep everyone motivated. The Cosmos back line is not exactly perfect and removing the captain and defensive leader for me gives Indy a win.

LOUIE: The obvious choice is Juan Arango. With numbers comparable to Éamon Zayed, he is the clear threat to start or finish chances for the Cosmos. However, I'd also say Mike Richter or Adam Moffat warrant a shout since they'll be called upon to shit down service to Zayed.

BRANDON: I am tempted to say Golden Ball winner Juan Arango but I will go with Jimmy Maurer. The goalkeeper has the experience to keep his composure in a high-stakes match as well as the skills to make big saves and keep Indy off the scoreboard.

STEVE: Juan Arango. A very boring, very obvious choice, but my choice. Giovanni Savarese said it himself... Arango can disappear for big stretches, but he can pounce at any moment and completely change a game. One of the best (and most clutch) players in the league who has been on a hot streak as of late. Dangerous to any and all opponents.

 It's a boring pick but it would have to be Golden Ball winner Juan Arango. An incredible veteran presence and a key part of New York's success this season. He is also arguably the best free kick taker in the league.

Looks like Louie, Steve, Caleb and Éamon are giving Arango the boot, or the finger!

If you are Giovanni Savarese and you are allowed to remove one player from the Indy Eleven lineup, who would you eject, and why?

JAMES: As you can probably guess from my last answer yes I am going with captain Colin Falvey, when you have a captain who can take ten stitches in the head, three sets of bandages and still kick ass and take names, you would want that guy off the field, he epitomizes the spirit and warrior like ethic of the team right now.

LOUIE: Zayed. Obvious threat to the Cosmos back line. Honorable mention to Colin Falvey who's toughness could hamper Jairo Arrieta's game.

BRANDON: Jon Busch could make an argument for Indy Eleven MVP this season. He is a talented net minder who may possibly be playing the final game of his career, plus the match occurs less than five miles from his boyhood home. Put all that together and Busch may be in for an epic game on Sunday evening.

STEVE: Éamon Zayed. The Cosmos defensive issues play right into a poachers hands (or feet). There's a reason why Zayed has been a Cosmos Killer: a plague of this club is the defensive clearing of chances and balls in the box. Zayed pounces on those, and is even more dangerous against the Cosmos than other clubs.

CALEB: Justin Braun. We've spent an inordinate amount of time this season discussing Braun's workrate and overall offensive impact, but it's worth bringing up yet again. The dynamism he brings to the attack is hard to overstate. Even when he can't finish, he's everywhere. His combination of speed and strength on the ball -- along with tirelessly attacking the back line and elite holdup play -- makes Justin the ultimate facilitator.

Zayed is voted off, can Indy Eleven win without Éamon?

New York Cosmos can win this game if...?

JAMES: Just allow Indy to play their game, soak up pressure, defend from the front back the way in numbers and hit on the counter, above all be patient and don't panic, use every minute of the game like they did against Rayo and patience will pay off.

LOUIE: They maintain possession, control the midfield and provide good service to the attack as a result.

BRANDON: Indy gives up two to three close range scoring opportunities per game. Where Edmonton were unable to finish those chances last week, the Cosmos have the skills to bury those shots. If Indy gives the Cosmos many chances inside the six yard box then New York will simply outscore us.

STEVE: ...they play their game. Stay solid in the back, keep possession, and build dangerous attacks from multiple angles. The Cosmos need to stay calm, stay strong and stay focused. They have the hot hand.

CALEB: They successfully brutalize the Indy fullbacks. The Cosmos have thrived on lethal play down the wings all season, and the final is unlikely to be any different. It's no secret that Vukovic and Franco will be looking to get up the field early and often. Any lapse in communication between an Indy overlap and defensive midfield coverage will be punished without mercy.

Indy Eleven can win this game if...?

JAMES: Indy has to take the game to New York, we are not great away from home but this is not their home stadium and it will be a small crowd, we need to go for it early. We saw in the last game against Cosmos we can hit hard and early, we scored three in 51 minutes. Grab Cosmos by the throat and don't let up but stay alert and don't switch off at the back.

LOUIE: Two ways: absorbing pressure and hitting the Cosmos on the counter when they're exposed or getting physical in the midfield and denying the Cosmos control of the midfield and their ability to push the attack forward.

BRANDON: Indy needs to play a clean defensive game and not gift the Cosmos any goals through free kicks or close range chances. New York is likely to score at least once meaning Indy will need to keep focused when this happens and also find a way to score at least twice for themselves, which they have proven they can do.

STEVE: They force the Cosmos into mistakes force New York's opportunities to come few and far between. Feed off the crowd, and throw the kitchen sink at the Cosmos.

CALEB: They don't overextend early. Both sides will be looking to establish themselves and apply pressure in the first 15-20 minutes. Hankinson's men must pick their battles wisely and not be baited into opening the door for a Cosmos counterattack. Don't let them bypass one of your biggest strengths: defensive and midfield organization.

The guys have chosen five different players to be Soccer Bowl MVP

Who is going to be the 2016 NASL Soccer Bowl MVP...?

JAMES: I made my prediction to the guys a couple of weeks ago and I am sticking by it, my gut feelings are usually close and last week I predicted Ubiparipović. Dylan Mares is going to be Soccer Bowl MVP, he looks hungrier for success every season and he really wants this, his goal against Cosmos in the last game was one of the best I have seen, expect him to score.

LOUIE: Arango. He's only gotten better as the year has gone on and had a goal and an assist in the semi final. Look for a dangerous free kick goal and maybe an assist or two.

BRANDON: Justin Braun. Indy lost 3-0 in New York without him. He proved in Spring he is able to impact games with off the ball runs, linking play and defensive pressure but struggled to get shots on goal. Since returning he has found the scoring touch, he missed a few close range chances against FC Edmonton so I am expecting a return to form with him impacting the game through offensive and defensive hustle and by burying a timely goal for Indy Eleven.

STEVE: For the Cosmos, Andrés Flores. Against Rayo he was as dangerous as he has ever been in green and white. A repeat performance will surely gain MVP honors. For Indy, Éamon Zayed, he is the difference for them.

CALEB: The smart money for MVP has to be on Éamon. He's a big-time player who has proven he can perform at the highest level in the biggest games. His record against the Cosmos in 2016 is extremely impressive (three goals and an assist in three games), and when Big Z scores, he has a tendency to do so in bunches.


JAMES: 2-0 to Indy Eleven. I think we will surprise like Rayo, but we will double up before Cosmos can reply and kill the game.

LOUIE: Cosmos 3-2 in Extra Time.

BRANDON: 2-1 to Indy Eleven in Extra Time.

STEVE: 2-1 to Cosmos. Arango and Flores score. Zayed nabs an early poacher goal for Indy in the early match chaos that is sure to come in a small stadium.

CALEB: 2-1 to Indy Eleven

One final question just for the Indy Folks, in the unthinkable scenario of a penalty shootout, who would be your first five kickers?

JAMES: Ubiparipović, Mares, Ring, Vukovic and Zayed.

BRANDON: Zayed, Vukovic, Braun, Paterson, Mares

CALEB: Zayed, Smart, Braun, Mares, Paterson

Belson Stadium looks bigger if you use a wide angle lens (pro tip)

Just a little sum up from me, Brandon makes a very good point regarding Justin Braun. I will admit during preseason and most of spring I was one of his biggest critics at times, but as the year has rolled on it is clearly evident that not only does Indy Eleven play better when Zayed and Braun are on the field together, but Zayed seems to play better when paired with Braun.

The other wild card for me again is the rejuvenated Siniša Ubiparipović. Ubi made his comeback to the starting lineup a week before defeating the Cosmos 3-0, in the match against the hottest streak team in the league at the time Miami FC. We looked comfortable against them with Siniša in attacking midfield then demolished the Cosmos 3-0 the following. Ubi was also the difference maker against FC Edmonton.

Throughout this season Tim Hankinson has shown great ability to tactically change a game in progress by adjusting formation or positions and at times using sensible substitutions, this will be key in a final match. In the second half of any game there can be three different scenarios, the game is drawn and both teams are still looking for the opener, or you are a goal up and have to decide to go for the killer goal or move to defensive, or you are a goal down and chasing how do you react.

Last week against FC Edmonton after we went ahead we brought on Torrado after a while and tightened things up defensively, we could do that against Edmonton because they have issues scoring anyway, it may not work the same against Cosmos. If we take the lead like that again I think we wait a little longer before changing shape or changing personnel and push for a second goal.

In the event the game is tied late or we are a goal behind then I think we utilize Vukovic as we have done many times and push him up into the midfield and attack, possibly switching to a back three, possibly bringing Palmer on for Franco. Regardless of how the game unfolds I have confidence not only in the team but in our coach to keep pushing until the very last second.

I think this game could turn out to be the best Soccer Bowl of the modern era, despite the diminutive size of Belson Stadium, the game itself is going to be spectacular. Hopefully remembered as Indy Eleven's greatest ever win, I am attending and I plan on driving back to Indy with a huge grin on my face, I think we deserve it. Don't expect a review until Tuesday... #INDYFOREVER

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