Thursday, April 14, 2016

Surely we can't draw forever? - Indy Eleven V New York Cosmos Preview (04/16/16)

Ubiparipović, in or out?
By: James Cormack

Indy Eleven enter their third game in the 2016 NASL season without a win or a defeat. With two points from as many games the Eleven are still trying to find their rhythm. They will be tested to the full as last year's Soccer Bowl Champions the New York Cosmos come to town.

The Cosmos have started perfectly with a 3-0 win over Ottawa and a 2-0 win over Jacksonville. Indy will be their first road game of the season and they are literally "flying"!

It is well documented that these two teams have drawn every match they have played together, SIX times now! Is this match once again poised for another glorious impasse?

What are the significant differences between these two teams since they last met in a 1-1 draw in July of 2015?

For New York there is no Senna and no Raúl this year. Walter Restrepo, who has been a thorn in our side in the last two meetings has moved on.

New York have not been shy in the off-season. Savarese has brought in MLS striker Jairo Arrieta, also Juan Arango and Niko Kranjčar provide a huge amount of experience in midfield. Add those to returning Scottish midfielder Adam Moffat who has already equalled his goal tally from last year, finding the net in both of the opening games.

New York have a strong and established back line, players like Ayoze, Freeman and Mendes have been together for years in the same team now, something quite rare in a league where teams regularly overhaul their squad. Indy's back line have not played together before this season but look strong.

The Cosmos have added very smart pieces into an already successful team, a team that has won two Soccer Bowls in three years now, on paper this could well be the strongest Cosmos side we have seen so far.

Indy have had a fair sized overhaul compared to their opponents this year, we all know about it so I won't bore you with it! The Cosmos are established,they are ready. We are building and still finding our way. It's not going to be easy.

The Boys in Blue are mostly new, we don't have that same familiarity with each other as many of the Cosmos roster does. We have however added players with a wealth of experience such as Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Zayed, Paterson, Ubiparipovič, Vukovic and more.

Three players remain in the Indy roster from the time of our very first meeting with the Cosmos, Dylan Mares, Brad Ring and Don Smart. Only Don Smart has played in every game against the Cosmos. Both Ring and Mares have scored against New York in previous encounters.

How does Indy approach this game....

Indy Eleven are two games in and still trying to find their way together. Defense has been our best strength so far, whereas our attack has been lacking. Cosmos have had a dream start and no doubt will come into this as the favorite to win.

As coach Hankinson said you have to beat the best to be the best, we have three games to play against Cosmos, two of which are at home. With a bye week coming up after this game I don't think we will go into this game content to protect a point as we did in Tampa. At this stage in the game we can afford slip ups and atone later. We don't need to slip up though.

Although I think we may see some starting lineup changes this week, I feel Hankinson will not change his formation for the start of games but possibly changing it during a game as he did last week.

Siniša Ubiparipovič and Gorka Larrea are doubtful at the moment, both may or may not make the bench, if they do they still might not see game time. Ubiparipovič is not up to full speed in training and Larrea has further complications with his injury. If neither are listed we may see Wojcik and Shaffer come into the squad. I honestly don't see the point of further aggravating any player injuries at this stage of the season.

With our number 10 possibly missing there are other options in that position, the most obvious would be Dylan Mares but also Jair Reinoso could play that position as well. I think we will try to make as little changes as we can and my feeling is Jair Reinoso will play on the right with Mares in the middle behind Zayed, the rest of the lineup most likely unchanged.

The biggest thing Coach Hankinson and the players have to figure out this week is how we can transition better from back to front and apply more pressure on our opposition. On the signing of Omar Gordon, Tim Hankinson noted that "He is a player familiar with the system I have installed here". So don't expect any huge changes in formation.

I think we will see Indy play a higher line in this game making it harder for Cosmos to come out when they do get the ball. And in the same we we are playing a 3 and 1 with the defense where if one back goes three defenders stay, we may see a similar tactic with our defensive midfield, one of Ring/Paterson needs to be a little more adventurous when we are pushing up.

I think if this can happen, and Jair Reinoso and Duke Lacroix both start the game, we will see more balls coming into the opposition box! We need to be a little less conservative, we need to press the ball more and there is no reason why we cannot try and get all three points here.

Giovanni Saverese has never been able to figure out how to beat Indy Eleven. Coach Hankinson has to try and figure out the Cosmos! History dictates this game will be a draw, we shall see!


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