In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will recap Indy Eleven’s exit from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against Louisville City FC and preview their upcoming fixture against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday.

US OPEN CUP

Any single elimination tournament brings upsets and drama to each game. In the case of the US Open Cup; teams, players, and fans witness a wide variety of playing styles, tactics, and athletic ability each league and team has to offer. The Indy Eleven- Louisville City FC game witness all of this and more on Wednesday night at Michael A. Carroll Stadium in front of 7,000 fans. It started with Mother Nature delaying the game by a few minutes. While goals were delayed from each team for well over 100 minutes. The first half saw Louisville City come out in a 4-3-3 formation with Lliga Llic sitting just behind their three strikers. While Louisville’s best player, Matt Fondy, started on the bench but saw action later in the game. The Eleven came out in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Daniel Keller as the defensive midfielder and Wojciech Wojcik the lone striker. Louisville was able to keep possession in their own half and middle half of the field as the Eleven optioned to drop back and sit rather than implementing a high pressure game. Brian Brown started as the left outside midfielder while Don Smart was on the right outside mid. Both players rotated during every 10 minutes until Smart was subbed out in the second half. This was to keep Louisville’s outside defenders in check. Brown was better suited to take on left back, Adam West, who was small and quick. While Don Smart had a better matchup against the tall and stronger, Austen King, on the right. The Eleven made Scott Goodwin work early on, as six of their seven shots on goal came in the first half.

There were no changes for either team coming out at halftime which saw the game fall into a lull until the 80th minute. Then Eleven did make some changes during this time which saw Charlie Rugg come on for Don Smart and Dylan Mares for Victor Pineda. The Eleven’s best chance came in the closing minutes of regulation as Mares shot from twenty yards out was saved by Goodwin.

With the US Open Cup being single elimination, each game has to have a winner. If the game remains scoreless after 90 minutes, two 15 minute extra time periods are played with no golden goal. If the game is still tied after 120 minutes, then penalty kicks decide the outcome. This was the second time in Indy Eleven’s history they have played in extra time. In last years, US Open Cup the Columbus Crew of the MLS beat the Eleven 1-2 as the Crew were awarded a pk in the final few minutes of the second 15 minute period. In overtime against Louisville, Daniel Keller had to come out after suffering cramps and Eleven’s new boy, Duke Lacroix, came into the game. This saw Mares drop into the defensive midfielder position as Lacroix occupied the right midfielders spot. Nate Polak opened the scoring sheet for Louisville in the 115th minute as he received the ball just outside the 18 yard box, danced with the ball, turned and ripped the shot past two Eleven defenders and goalkeeper Nicht for the game winner. Five minutes later, Juan Guzman’s shot hit the cross bar only to find Sidney Rivera who put the rebound in the back of the net.

PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN V. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

Tampa Bay leads the all-time series 1-2-0 (W,D,L)

4/19/14 Eleven and Rowdies draw, 1-1 at Carroll Stadium. Goal from Erick Norales for the Eleven.

7/19/14 Rowdies beat Eleven, 1-2 at Carroll Stadium. Goal from Kleberson for the Eleven.

11/1/14 Eleven and Rowdies draw, 2-2 at Al Lang Stadium. Goals from Don Smart and Jhuliam for the Eleven.

Overall, it has not been a good week for the NASL. A chairperson was suspended from the league and FIFA after the United States Department of Justice opened their investigation into FIFA allegations of corruption. In addition, only two of the eight teams from the NASL participating in the US Open Cup advanced to the fourth round of play. Those six teams that lost fell to teams of the United Soccer League (USL). The NASL is in the second tier of professional soccer with the USL one below. Indy Eleven’s opponent today, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, dropped their US Open Cup match in Pittsburgh against the Riverhounds. The only two teams that will advance from the NASL are, the New York Cosmos and Atlanta Silverbacks, who did not play against USL teams.

If there is one team in the professional sports landscape of North America that has reinvigorated their entire organization from top to bottom, inside and out, it is the Tampa Bay Rowdies. After a disappointing end to their season last year their ownership group revamped their stadium. Transforming it from a rundown baseball stadium into a world class soccer stadium. Then, the Rowdies changed their coaching staff and brought in the enthusiastic and passionate Dutchman, Thomas Rongen, who has coached every kind of soccer team imaginable. With this, the Rowdies overhauled their entire roster to fit Rongen’s more technical- possession style of play. By making these dramatic changes and being heavily involved in the social media arena, the Rowdies have reenergized the organization and the fan base has grown dramatically. Maybe the professional baseball team in southern Florida should take notes on how the Rowdies changed the culture of the organization for the better.

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES:

Head Coach: Thomas Rongen

Captain: Marcelo Saragosa

NASL record: 3-3-1 (W,D,L)

Position in NASL:  3rd with 12 points.

Last game: L, 0-1, at Pittsburg Riverhounds

Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Matt Pickens; D, Ben Sweat; D, Stefan Antonijevic; D, Tamika Mkandawire; D, Darnell King; M, Marcelo Saragosa; M, Martin Nunez; M, Richard Menjivar; M, Georgi Hristov; F, Robert Hernandez; F, Maicon Santos.

INDY ELEVEN:

NASL record: 1-3-3 (W,L,D)

Position in NASL: 11th on 6 points

Last game: L, 0-2, v. Louisville City FC

Formation: (4-1-4-1) GK, Nicht; CB, Norales; CB, Janicki; LB, Hyland; RB, Franco; DM, Keller; CM, Melgares; CM, Pineda; LM, Brown; RM, Smart; F, Wojcik.

STATS:

Eleven:

Goals: Sergio Peña 2. Brian Brown, Erick Norales, and Don Smart with one goal each.

Assists: Dylan Mares, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 1.

Goalkeepers: In league play Kristian Nicht has allowed 5 goals on 14 saves and averaging 1 goal per game in 5 games. Keith Cardona has allowed 4 goals on 6 saves in 2 games.

Rowdies:

Goals: Martin Nuñez and Maicon Santos with two goal each. Stefan Antonijevic, Darwin Espinal, Robert Hernández, and Corey Hertzog with one goal each.

Assists: Georgi Hristov, 3; Darnell King, 1; Marcelo Saragosa, 1.

Goalkeepers: In league play Matt Pickens has allowed 1 goal on 12 saves and averaging 0.33 goals per game in 5 games. Kamil Čontofalský has allowed 5 goals on 4 saves and averaging 1.25 goals per game in 4 games.

INJURIES:

Eleven: Kleberson, Achilles. Dragan Stojkov, lower leg. Sergio Peña was subbed out in the 34th minute due to injury against Ottawa and did not feature against Louisville City midweek. It will be interesting to see if he plays this game.

Rowdies: N/A

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Eleven: Marco Franco and Kyle Hyland, Defenders. Hyland has anchored the left back position with Franco as the right back. Both have logged minutes quietly this season and have dealt with any trouble that has come their way and rarely get beat in 1v1 situations. Neither player has a flashy style of play but display the discipline and work ethic it takes to be an outside back in the modern game. Franco and Hyland have been the bright stars of the team, along with Dylan Mares, during this rough four game losing streak.

Rowdies:

Stefan Antonijevic, Defender. Stefan has started every game for the Rowdies this year and has one goal to his name. Stefan has been named NASL Player of the Week once and has been included in the NASL Team of the Week twice this year.

Georgi Hristov, Midfielder. The Bulgarian native has started every game this year for the Rowdies and leads the team in assists with three. Georgi, was named in the NASL Team of the Week in week one of the spring season.

REFEREE

The center ref for the Eleven- Rowdies game has featured once as the center this season. In that game he handed out three yellow cards. He primarily serves as a 4th official in professional soccer matches played in the United States.

QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:

How will a week night game effect both teams tonight? The Rowdies did not have to play this past weekend but had to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. While the Eleven played 120 minutes at home against Louisville City. In addition, the Rowdies have twenty-six players on their roster compared to Indy Eleven who have twenty-three.

Can Indy Eleven end their scoring drought? The Eleven have only scored one goal in their last four games.

Will the Eleven stay with Wojcieck Wojcik as their lone target forward or will they partner him with another striker that worked so well earlier in the season when the Eleven used a 4-1-3-2 formation?

FUN FACTS:

Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach, Thomas Rongen is the former Head Coach of the American Samoa National Football Team. The documentary, Next Goal Wins, follows the team’s pursuit during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying while Rongen was the coach (a film I need to watch). As for the game on tonight, we will have to keep a close eye on Rongen to see if he is wearing his trademark bowtie.

Richard Menjivar was traded from the San Antonio Scorpions to Tampa earlier in the NASL spring season. This trade helped Tampa add depth and solidify their midfield. One of the best in the league, the Salvadorian international played over 1,000 minutes for the Scorpions last year and helped them capture the NASL Soccer Bowl Championship.

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