In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be discussing Indy Eleven’s first international friendly this coming Sunday against Mexican side, Monarcas Morelia. This game between Morelia and the Eleven is defined as a “friendly” but do not let that fool you as both teams look to build momentum into the latter half of the season.
PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. MONARCAS MORELIA
History will be made on Sunday afternoon when the Eleven take the field against Monarcas Morelia. The highly anticipated match should display intense quality soccer in front of a crowd close to 11,000. While both teams may have different objectives in the game, the overall goal will be the same. Indy Eleven will be pushing for a NASL playoff spot, while Morelia will look to put a dismal Clausura season behind them.
Similar to the NASL spring and fall season, Liga MX (highest league in Mexico) have the Clausura and the Apertura. Morelia is gearing up for the Apertura season which begins in July and runs through the fall. During Morelia’s Clausura campaign, played in the winter and spring, the team finished last out of eighteen teams. The professional soccer leagues in Mexico have a promotion-relegation structure but Morelia will not be relegated even though they finished last in the Clausura. Liga MX promotion and relegation system is not based on the regular season table as some soccer fans are accustomed to seeing in Europe. Rather this system has a completely separate table. This table figures the average points per game ratio and the team with the lowest ratio after three years is relegated. In the relegation table, Morelia is currently 13th of 18 teams.
Liga MX also has a draft. However, this draft is completely different from what we are familiar with when it comes to amateur sports drafts in the United States. Soccer has transfer windows when teams are only allowed to make trades, sign free agents, or loan players out during certain months of the year. Prior to the start of the Apertura; teams, players, agents, and the media all come together to work out deals in a desperate attempt to improve their team or rebuild their roster from scratch. These situations culminate for teams to neglect their long term planning for short term gains. However, Morelia was able to improve their team with the help of Atlas FC (both Atlas and Morelia are owned by the same company). From Atlas came Carlos Ochoa, Rodrigo Millar, Facundo Erpen, Enrique Perez, and Juan Pablo Rodriguez. Morelia also picked up midfielders Dieter Villalpando and Cristian Pelleran from Pachuca and Club América. With Morelia struggling to keep the ball out of their own net this past spring, allowing 24 goals in 17 games, the team signed veteran goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo from Tijuana during this year’s draft. The 33 year old netminder, was a target for the United States National Team a few years ago but it was unclear if he was eligible to play for the USA, even though his mother is from the United States.
Boy’s in Blue
As Indy Eleven finished the spring season on a two game winning streak after Tim Regan took over the head coaching duties on an interim basis, they will look to continue their momentum heading into their friendly against Morelia. This will be a crucial game for Tim Regan if he wants to strengthen his position as the number one man to lead the Eleven on a permanent basis. As for the players, it will be an opportunity for them to show case their talents against talented squad and prove they have what it takes to earn quality minutes during the fall season. In addition, this friendly may present itself with the opportunity for players on trial with Indy Eleven to earn a contract with the team.
Head Coach: Enrique Meza (previously coached Mexican National Team, Atlas, Cruz Azul, Pachuca, Toluca, and Toros Neza)
Captain: Carlos Morales
2015 Clausura record: 3-4-10 (W,D,L)
Position in Clausura: 18th
Last game in Clausura: W, 3-2 over Chivas Guadalajara.
Formation: (5-3-2) GK, Villalpando; D, González; D, Olvera; D, Higui; D, Cardozo; D, Morales; M, Zarate; M, Zamorano; M, Valdez; F, Cuero; F, Fernández.
NASL record: 3-4-3 (W,D,L)
Position in NASL: 5th
Last game: W, 3-0 over Edmonton.
Formation: GK, Nicht; CB, Miller; CB, Norales; RB, Franco; LB, Hyland; DM, Ring; AM, Mares; RM, Stojkov; LM, Pineda; F, Brown; F, Rugg.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jon Dawson: With minutes are hard to come by when Kristian Nicht and Keith Cardona are in front of Dawson on the depth chart, this friendly will be a great opportunity for the Indianapolis native to possibly see the field for the first time. The Brebeuf and Butler graduate, was with the Eleven last year but Nicht played every minute for Indy’s inaugural season.
Facundo Erpen: Major League Soccer fans may recognize Facundo Adrián Erpen Bariffo. The Argentine defender, previously played for D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Also, Erpen had a brief stent with Miami FC (now Fort Lauderdale Strikers) in 2009. The 32 year old was an MLS All-Star for D.C. United in 2006. Since then, Erpen has played for Instituto (Argentina), Atlas (Mexico), and Puebla (Mexico).
The first part of the team’s name “Monarcas” refers to the importance the Monarch Butterfly has in Michoacan, the same region of Mexico where the soccer team is located. Millions of Monarch Butterflies spends the fall and winter months dangling from Oyamel Fir trees then migrate thousands of miles back to the United States and Canada for the spring and summer.