In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be discussing Indy Eleven’s dramatic come from behind win over Fort Lauderdale and preview the Eleven’s upcoming game against FC Edmonton.

FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS

Both teams struggled to control the ball and tempo to start the game. But in the 16th minute Dylan Mares shot foreshadowed what was to happen in the closing seconds of the game with the Strikers having difficulty clearing the ball from danger for 90 minutes. A factor that could have led to these poor clearances by the Strikers was; this was there fourth different goal keeper in nine games. Fort Lauderdale scored first in the 23rd minute as Dani Sánchez was able to settle and cross the ball with no pressure only to find Stefano’s head for the goal. Stefano stepped in front of Eleven defender Corey Miller to head the ball down and away from keeper Kristian Nicht. The Eleven responded well in the 26th minute as Mares found Brian Brown off a set piece. Unfortunately, Brown missed the goal by inches. Nicht came up with several big saves all night. The best save came in the 32nd minute when Dani Sánchez heel flick looked to be going in, only for Nicht to stretch out his leg to push the ball wide for a corner. In the 44th minute Indy Eleven tied up the game at 1-1 when Dragon Stojkov played a square ball to Mares who pushed it to Victor Pineda just outside of the eighteen. Pineda, took one touch and placed the ball in the net. Any coach teaching young players how important the touch before the shot is, should use the highlights of this game and focus on Pineda’s first half goal.

Fort Lauderdale opened the second half by creating more attacking opportunities and chances to score. The Eleven were lucky in the 55th minute not have a penalty awarded against them as Corey Miller took Sanchez’s legs out from under him. A foul was given and Nicht was called upon once again to make a big save from Léo Moura’s set piece. Eleven’s interim Head Coach, Tim Regan, put his influence on the game as, Wojciech Wojcik went in for Dylan Mares in the center midfield position. This allowed Wojcik to play to his strengths and not feel the pressure of being the lone target player. This move allowed Brian Brown and Charlie Rugg to stay in the forward positions giving the Eleven a much needed energy boost and formidable front line.  Fort Lauderdale was given a jump start in the 72nd minute when Aly Alberto Hassan came into the game to give the Strikers a more potent and dynamic look up front. Indy Eleven Rookie, Duke Lacroix, came in the game relieving Brown and his duties up front in the 88th minute. It did not take Lacroix long to find his footing as he ran with the ball over sixty yards to find Don Smart inside the eighteen yard box. Smart’s first touch was poor and fell to a Fort Lauderdale defender. With the defender’s weak clearance, the ball fell to Pineda at the top of the eighteen yard line and made the Strikers pay by smashing the game winning goal into the back of the net.

PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. FC EDMONTON

All-time series record: 1-1-1

5-10-14 FC Edmonton over Indy Eleven, 2-1. Ambersley scored for Indy.

7-27-14 Indy Eleven over FC Edmonton, 1-0. Kleberson scored for Indy.

9-13-14 Eleven and FC Edmonton draw, 1-1. Pineda scored for Indy.

If there is an underdog in the North American Soccer League (NASL) it is FC Edmonton. The Eddies as there are known, reported spending $700,000 annually on travel costs alone. In addition, majority of the Eddies home games are played on Sunday to add an extra day for opponents to reach Canada. Attendance has been hard to come by for FC Edmonton. Their average attendance per game is, 2,783. There highest attended game this year was 3,803 for an Amway Canadian game. There lowest was 1,858 also in an Amway Canadian game. Through all of this, the owners seem passionate about the game of soccer and having a team in Edmonton.

On the field, FC Edmonton are a goal scoring machine. They lead the league in goals scored at 16. At the same time, the Eddies lead the league in goals allowed at 19. The only game Edmonton has not scored in was against the Ottawa Fury in a 0-0 game on May 29th. Also, recording their only clean sheet of the season in the same game.

FC EDMONTON:

Head Coach: Colin Miller

Captain: Albert Watson

NASL record: 2-3-4 (W-D-L)

Position in NASL: 9th with 9 points.

Last game: L, 1-2 at Tampa Bay.

Formation: (4-5-1) GK, Smits; CB, Roberts; Watson; RB, Edward; LB, Moses; DM, Raudales; CM, Jones; CM, Burt; RM, Laing; LM, Nyassi; F, Jonke.

INDY ELEVEN:

NASL record: 2-4-3 (W-D-L)

Position in NASL: 7th on 10 points

Last game: W, 2-1

Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Nicht; CB, Norales; CB, Miller; RB, Franco; LB, Hyland; DM; Ring; RM, Stojkov; LM, Pineda; AM, Mares; F, Brown; F, Rugg.

STATS (NASL games unless noted):

Eleven:

Goals: Sergio Peña and Victor Pineda with 2 each. Brian Brown, Kyle Hyland, Dylan Mares, Erick Norales, and Don Smart with 1 goal each.

Assists: Dylan Mares 3. Brian Brown and Wojciech Wojcik with 1 each.

Goalkeepers: Kristian Nicht (all competitions) is averaging 1.25 goals per game by allowing 10 goals on 26 saves in 10 games. Keith Cardona is averaging 2 goals per game by allowing 4 goals on 6 saves in 2 NASL games.

FC Edmonton:

Goals: Ritchie Jones and Lance Laing with 4 each. Tomi Ameobi and Daryl Fordyce with 3 each. Kareem Moses and Sainey Nyassi with 1 each.

Assists: Lance Laing with 4. Tomi Ameobi and Sainey Nyassi with 2 each. Chad Burt and Johann Smith with 1 each.

Goalkeepers: Matt VanOekel is averaging 2.33 goals per game by allowing 14 goals on 11 saves in 6 games. John Smits is averaging 1.33 goals per game by allowing 4 goals on 9 saves in 3 games.

INJURIES:

Eleven: Kleberson, torn Achilles. Sergio Peña has not played since coming out in the 34th minute against Ottawa on May 23rd. Daniel Keller and Judson McKinny will be game time decisions.

FC Edmonton: Tomi Ameobi.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Eleven:

Victor Pineda: After his two goal performance against Fort Lauderdale look for the NASL Player of the Week to lead the charge for Indy Eleven. Pineda’s combination play with Mares and Stojkov will be something to keep an eye on when the Eleven are in the final third just like the previous game against Fort Lauderdale.

FC Edmonton:

Lance Laing: Omar Cummings and Raul may win the NASL’s best player award but Laing has been the best all-around player in the league besides Miguel Ibarra. Laing signed with FC Edmonton as an outside back. However, in June of last year against the Carolina RailHawks, Edmonton Head Coach Colin Miller, moved Laing to the outside midfield position. The Eddies won that day 6-1 with Laing recording one goal and one assist. In the 30 games since, Laing has recorded 10 goals and 9 assists. This year, Laing has 5 goals and 6 assists (4 goals and 4 assists in NASL). The good news for Indy Eleven’s coaches and players, Laing will miss this game after being called up to the Jamaican National Team for Copa America. Unfortunately, Eleven fans will be missing out on watching one of the best players in the NASL.

This is Laing’s first call up to the Jamaican National Team in a few years. Jamaica is the first nation from the Caribbean to be selected to play in the Copa America tournament this year. This tournament decides who is the best in South America. Every year, two countries outside the continent are selected to play in the prestigious tournament. Mexico is the other country selected for this year’s tournament who is outside of South America. Lance Laing and the Reggae Boyz will have the daunting task of facing Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay in group play. Then, Jamaica will turn around and play in the Concacaf Gold Cup in July against Costa Rica, Canada, and El Salvador.

Ritchie Jones: With FC Edmonton playing a 4-5-1 formation last game, look for the Eddies to do the same against the Eleven with Laing out because of national team duty. Jones has scored 4 goals in the NASL this season. Look for the former Manchester United youth team captain to be the play maker for the Eddies and take Indy’s backline head on.

REFEREE: The center ref for the Indy Eleven- Edmonton game has awarded 132 fouls, 19 cautions, and 1 red card in 6 games. So expect the game to be called tight.

QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:

Can Indy Eleven record back-to-back wins under interim Head Coach Tim Regan?

With Tim Regan moving Wojciech Wojcik to a central midfield position last game, could other players play different positions or roles we do not normally see them in?

How will FC Edmonton play without super star Lance Laing? Who will score for the Eddies?

With Edmonton’s attacking prowess and defense struggles, will this game be a high scoring affair?

FUN FACTS:

Victor Pineda picked up NASL Player of the Week and Team of the Week awards after his two goal performance against Fort Lauderdale. In addition, he was nominated for Play of the Week. This is back-to-back weeks an Indy Eleven player has been awarded the Player of the Week award, Team of the Week, and nominated for Play of the Week.

FC Edmonton striker Tomi Ameobi’s brother, Sammy, plays for Newcastle United of the English Premier League.

FC Edmonton defender, Mallan Roberts, has been called up to Canadian National Team. Canada opened their 2018 World Cup Qualifying Campaign with a 2-0 win against Dominica (not to be confused with Dominican Republic).

NASL NEWS:

NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony has signed an agreement with the league to start a team in Puerto Rico. The team will begin play in the fall of 2016.

Minnesota United and Club Leon of Mexico have agreed for the transfer of United States National team player, Miguel Ibarra. He will join Leon in July.

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