Friday, May 12, 2017

Sixes and Sevens: Miami FC v Indy Eleven Preview (05/13/2017)

Ben Speas, Marco Franco and Adrian Ables on the bench behind the bench.

By: James Cormack

There are times when fate can conspire to make life tough, and then there are times when fate just seems to be having a laugh. Indy Eleven have now had their fair share of misfortune, with a mounting injury list and now suspension, one wonders how much longer it will be before Lady Luck smiles upon us again.

In the run up to Indy Eleven's sixth consecutive league draw last weekend there was a feeling that the time was right for Indy Eleven to get their first win, and prior to the match we saw the unwelcome sight of Marco Franco not dressed to play and sitting on the bench reserved for those unable to play any part in the game.

Franco's unavailability brought our injury list to six which also includes Don Smart, Ben Speas, Nemanja Vukovic, Anthony Manning, and Adrian Ables. Against FC Edmonton only four outfield players were available as subs and only two of those were signed for the commencement of the 2017 season, Craig Henderson and David Goldsmith. Jason Plumhoff and Brandon Poltronieri were announced as signing for the team just days before the match and both saw time on the field.

As if things were not already bad enough, head coach Tim Hankinson had to leave the match knowing he would be without starting center mid Brad Ring for the next game after two really unnecessary yellow cards. Will that be the straw that breaks the camels back, or will this roster continue to galvanize and support each other in avoiding defeat?

Don Smart in good spirits.
When life gives you lemons....

If all matches were decided on paper, then I could end this preview now by telling you that Indy Eleven have suffered their first defeat of the 2017 season at the hands of Miami FC, current league leaders and many a pundit's favorite to dominate NASL this year.

Yes on paper Miami FC have a roster that most other teams in the league would just like to have half of. Their list of players is strong to the point that even with an injury crisis of their own they could still field an enviable starting team.

Indy Eleven will play three games in seven days starting with Miami FC in Florida followed by a US Open Cup match in Pontiac, Michigan against Michigan Bucks before meeting Miami FC again in Indianapolis on May 20th.

Brad Ring will be an obvious omission from this weekends starting lineup due to suspension but the starters and bench will most likely be a mystery unsolved and presumably based on the importance on the following two games. One other certainty to be missing is Nemanja Vukovic, a relative newbie to the injury list, we may not see him again until Indy Eleven return to action at Carroll Stadium.

Prior to kickoff last Saturday I was informed Marco Franco's condition was not too serious and mostly precautionary, it is likely he will be available to start against Miami. Don Smart looked chipper and even had time for some impromptu pre-match free styling. Ben Speas looked comfortable on his feet but bored as he took a seat to watch the game. Both Smart and Speas look ready for some game time, the question is do you start them in the first of a series of three games away from home?

I highly doubt that Don Smart or Ben Speas will start against Miami, if either do it is more likely to be Don, it would be an aggressive move from Hankinson and an unnecessary one. If I were to prioritize the importance of the next three games then the home game against Miami and the USOC game in Michigan are probably going to take precedence.

Indy Eleven have come through six games defiantly and remain undefeated, still without a win but proving very difficult to beat. There will be a little bit of juggling this week again, Gerardo Torrado will be without Brad Ring for the first time and will hold down the center of midfield most likely with Ubiparipović in front of him. Hankinson can opt for a little pace on the flanks this week if he chooses to start Plumhoff and Thompson together or even David Goldsmith.

Sixes then Sevens?

Miami FC's Dylan Mares traded dark blue for light and Indy will debut their new white Adidas kit this weekend.

It's going to be tough, but we still have enough to be able to make this game difficult. I am as tired of draws as the next man, and as cliche as it is I have to say "I will take the draw now!". Indy Eleven have played six games, drawn six games, scored six goals, conceded six goals and sit on six points. Will all those sixes change to sevens this week, it's highly possible.

If Indy Eleven can come away from Miami still undefeated it could be a very pivotal result when it comes down to the end of the regular season. Miami are the team to beat this year, but there is no insurmountable gap between them nor any other team so far. We may not be able to start the players we want to, nor play the way we wish to, but we can still force teams to drop points in their own house as we proved in Jacksonville.

If there is a way to win this game there is no doubt Indy will look to exploit it, but the main objective will be not losing and this is achievable, we may have to put up with one more tied game before we see a win, and I'm okay with that and staying 5pts from Miami FC. We will then have an opportunity in the US Open Cup to perhaps dabble a bit and give returning players more game time in preparation for Miami's visit to Indianapolis.

"We seem to be back to the Indy Eleven of old where we're hard to play against, we just need to turn the corner now and find the back of the net and turn those one points into three because that's what it's all about" - Colin Falvey following 0-0 tie with FC Edmonton.

If you have not seen the 3rd round matchups for the US Open Cup, Indy Eleven if they progress will play either NPSL's FC Wichita or USL's St Louis FC on the 31st of May at Carroll Stadium with a 7pm kick off. 

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