In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be discussing Indy Eleven’s weeknight showdown with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Keys to the game
Indy Eleven are coming into Wednesday night’s game against Tampa, having lost four out of their last five games. In order to be successful during their match against the Rowdies, Indy Eleven have to do three things. First, Indy is most successful when finding their target player. That target player for the Eleven is the number ten. This attacking midfield role was anchored by Dylan Mares before his injury. The team’s leader in goals scored and assists was able to find space and seams in the opponent’s defense and connect in 1-2 combinations to help the Eleven in the final third. As this role is turned over to Marvin Ceballos and Zach Steinberger look to see if the Eleven can utilize their attacking mid. Second, the Eleven need to generate width in the attack. It is sometimes difficult to utilize the flanks when the four midfielders are in a diamond in a 4-4-2 formation. If the Rowdies play an open style of play as they did the last time these two teams played, look for midfielders Victor Pineda and Dragan Stojkov as well as outside backs Marco Franco and Kyle Hyland push out wide. The Eleven did switch to a 4-5-1 halfway through the first half against Ottawa and had more success against the Fury getting the ball wide. Third, Indy Eleven have to reduce turning the ball over in their own half. FC Edmonton and Ottawa were able to capitalize on the Eleven’s turn overs and convert them into goals.
Tampa Bay is struggling as well. In seven games this fall the Rowdies have only collected 7 points and have suffered a three game losing streak during that time. The Rowdies are holding on to the final playoff spot by 2 points. In their last game in Fort Lauderdale this past weekend, the Rowdies fell to Costal Cup rival Strikers, 2-1. We will see how deep the Rowdies roster is as they will be playing their second of three games over an eight day span. Head Coach Thomas Rongen has implemented a very technical and high energy style in a 4-3-3 formation. Last time these two teams played the Rowdies used a fluid rotation and players were allowed to move freely within the formation. At times this made it difficult for the Eleven to know who to mark.
The Rowdies have made the headlines in the world of soccer by signing some big name players over the summer. These players included, Freddy Adu and Omar Salgado who played for Rongen on the United States U20 National team. These connections have allowed Rongen to strengthen an already good squad.
PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES
All-time series record: Tampa Bay leads 1-3-0 (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.
5/30/15 Eleven and Rowdies draw, 2-2 at Carroll Stadium. Goals from Dylan Mares and Kyle Hyland for the Eleven.
Tamp Bay Rowdies:
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
Captain: Marcelo Saragosa
NASL fall record: 2-1-4 (W,D,L)
Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 9th/4th
Last game: L, 1-2 at Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Formation: (4-3-3) GK, Čontofalský; RB, King; LB, Sweat; CB, Agbossoumonde; CB, Mkandawire; CM, Saragosa; CM, Guerra; CM, Hristov; F, Shriver; F, Santos; F, Nú ñez.
NASL fall record: 1-2-4 (W,D,L)
Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 11th/10th
Last game: L, 1-4 v. Ottawa
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Nicht; RB, Franco; LB, Hyland; CB, Norales; CB, Janicki; DM, Keller; AM, Ceballos; RM, Stojkov; LM, Pineda; F, Brown; F, Richards.
Goals: Dylan Mares, 3; Brian Brown, Erick Norales, 2; Sergio Peña, 2; Victor Pineda, 2; Don Smart, 2; Duke Lacroix, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 2. Kyle Hyland, 1; Judson McKinney, 1.
Assists: Dylan Mares, 4; Brian Brown, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 1; Charlie Rugg, 1, Dragan Stojkov, 1.
Goalkeepers: Kristian Nicht has allowed 22 goals on 40 saves and is allowing on average 1.46 goals per game in 15 games (all competitions). Keith Cardona has allowed 6 goals on 8 saves and is allowing on average 2 goals per game in 3 NASL games.
Goals: Maicon Santos, 7; Martin Nunez, 3; Darwin Espinal, 2; Corey Hertzog, 2; Georgi Hristov, 2; Brian Shriver, 2; Stegan Antonijevic, 1; Rich Balchan, 1; Robert Hernandez, 1; Darnell King, 1.
Assists: Georgi Hristov, 7; Darnell King, 2; Freddy Adu, 1; Marcelo Saragosa, 1; Maicon Santos, 1; Martin Núñez; Darwin Espinal, 1; Corey Hertzog, 1.
Goalkeepers: Matt Pickens has allowed 9 goals on 26 saves and is allowing 1 goal per game in 10 NASL games. Kamil Čontofalský has allowed 13 goals on 13 saves and is allowing 1.63 goals per game in 8 NASL games.
Eleven: Dylan Mares (knee) had surgery on his torn meniscus on July 31st and could return as early as the August 29th game in Fort Lauderdale. Sergio Peña, out (foot).
Rowdies: Freddy Adu, day-to-day (Achilles). Sefan Antonijevic, day-to-day (hamstring). Omar Salgad
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Erick Norales: Look for Erick Norales to bounce back after serving a two game suspension and having a difficult game against the Ottawa Fury. After an open letter to the Brickyard Battalion, the captain of the Eleven should have a solid game against the Rowdies.
Maicon Santos: The striker is the leading goal scorer for Tampa Bay. His 7 goals on the year places Santos in a five way tie for 3rd place with most goals scored in the league. In a recent post-game interview in the SaintPetersBlog, Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen and Maicon Santos discussed the Brazilian being overweight and suffering from high blood pressure. The gamble of giving a player like Santos a second chance has paid off and Santos is back scoring goals.
In 2 games this year the center ref for the Eleven- Rowdies game has awarded 49 fouls, 3 yellow cards, and 1 red card.
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Can the Eleven shake off recent results and get back to winning ways?
Who will anchor the attacking midfielder (number 10) role against the Rowdies?
Can the Eleven create width in the attack in a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the middle formation or will could we see a different formation?
After scoring against the Ottawa Fury, could Duke Lacroix see more playing time?
Look to see if Thomas Rongen is wearing his trademark bowtie on the sidelines.