In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be previewing Indy Eleven’s upcoming fixture against the Silverbacks in Atlanta.

PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. ATLANTA SILVERBACKS

All-time series record: Atlanta leads the series at 2-2-1 (W,D,L).

6/7/14 Indy Eleven and Atlanta Silverbacks draw, 3-3, in Atlanta. Indy Eleven goals scored by; Mike Ambersley (2) and Kleberson.

8/2/14 Atlanta beat the Eleven in Indy, 4-2. Indy Eleven goals scored by, Kleberson (2).

9/6/14 Indy Eleven beat Silverbacks in Atlanta, 2-1. Indy Eleven goals scored by, Blake Smith and Jermaine Johnson.

4/4/15 Indy Eleven and Atlanta Silverbacks draw, 1-1. Indy Eleven goal scored by, Don Smart (pk).

8/1/15 Atlanta beat the Eleven, 1-0. Former Eleven player, Pedro Mendes, had the goal for the Silverbacks.

The last time these two teams meet, the Silverbacks grinded out a 1-0 win at Carroll Stadium. If the Eleven are to return the favor this weekend, the ‘Boy’s in Blue’ must do three things. First, they have to figure out how they will be successful in a numbers down situation in the midfield. The Silverbacks have used an effective 3-5-2 formation and there midfield has been there strongest aspect in this line-up. The Eleven have to be ready for Atlanta’s midfield when the Silverbacks use a physical approach to pressuring the ball. The Eleven cannot turn the ball over in the first and middle third of the field. Second, the Eleven must create width in the attack. Last week the Jacksonville Armada were able to send their outside backs down the flanks against Atlanta. This helped the Armada create overloads in the midfield and exploit a three man back line of the Silverbacks. Therefore, we must look to see if Marco Franco and Kyle Hyland push into the attack. Third, Indy must deal with a very strong and physical back line of McKenzie, Mensing, and Black. In their last meeting, Brian Brown and Dane Richards were used to expose the Atlanta defenders with their speed. However, their size and speed were ineffective as they were unable to get around the Silverbacks defenders. It should not be a surprise if Wojciech Wojcik gets the start up front.

ATLANTA SILVERBACKS

Head Coach: Gary Smith (won MLS Cup in 2010 as Head Coach of the Colorado Rapids)

Captain: Simon Mensing

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

Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 3rd/7th

Last game: L, 0-1 at Jacksonville.

Formation: (3-5-2)  GK, Ceus; CB, Mensing; RB, McKenzie; LB, Black; CM, Reed; CM, Hughes; CM, Burgos; RM, Kimura; LM, Porter; F, Chávez; F, Pedro Mendes.

INDY ELEVEN

NASL fall record: 2-2-4 (W,D,L)

Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 9th/10th

Last game: W, 2-0 v. Tampa Bay

Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Nicht; CB, Norales; CB, Miller; RB, Franco; LB, Hyland; DM, Keller; AM, Steinberger; RM, Stojkov; LM, Lacroix; F, Richards; F, Rugg.

STATS:

Eleven:

Goals: Dylan Mares, 3; Eric Norales, 3; Brian Brown, Sergio Peña, 2; Victor Pineda, 2; Don Smart, 2; Duke Lacroix, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 2. Kyle Hyland, 1; Judson McKinney, 1; Dane Richards, 1.

Assists: Dylan Mares, 4; Brian Brown, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 1; Charlie Rugg, 1; Dragan Stojkov, 1; Daniel Keller, 1.

Goalkeepers: Kristian Nicht has allowed 22 goals on 44 saves and is allowing 1.37 goals per game in 16 games (all competitions). Wednesday night was the team’s first shutout since June 13th. Keith Cardona has allowed 6 goals on 8 saves and is allowing on average 2 goals per game in 3 NASL games.

Silverbacks:

Goals: Chávez, 5; Pedro Mendes, 5; Bangura, 3; Burgos, 2; Christian 1; Denissen, 1; Okafor, 1; Porter, 1; Reed, 1.

Assists: Chávez, 5; Pedro Mendes, 2; Burgos, 2; Bangura, 1; Porter, 1; Black, 1; Mensing, 1.

Goalkeepers: Steward Ceus has allowed 18 goals on 42 saves and is allowing a 1.38 goals against average in 13 games. C.J. Cochran has allowed 7 goals on 17 saves and is allowing a 1.17 goals against average in 6 games.

INJURIES:

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).

Silverbacks: No injuries to report.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Eleven:

Dragan Stojkov, midfielder: On Wednesday against Tampa, Stojkov was a spark the Eleven needed. The unsung hero of that match played a major role in denying the Rowdies opportunities to score. His ability to shut down attackers in one on one situations was crucial. After stopping the Rowdies on defense, Stojkov pushed into the attack to help create chances for the Eleven.

Silverbacks:

Jamie Chávez, forward: The man leading the charge up front, leads the team with 5 goals and 5 assists. Since Pedro Mendes has signed with Atlanta, his partnership with Chavez has been a major factor as to why the Silverbacks have had major success in the fall season. Look for Chávez and Mendes to play give-and-goes in their final third to expose seams in the Eleven’s defense.

REFEREE:

The center referee on Saturday night’s game against the Eleven and Silverbacks has been the center for five previous NASL games this season. In those five games he has awarded 129 fouls, 20 yellow cards, and 0 red cards.

QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:

Can the Eleven continue their momentum and take three points on the road in Atlanta?

How will the Eleven’s midfield deal with playing in a numbers down situation against the Silverbacks? Will we see outside backs Marco Franco and Kyle Hyland push into the attack to create overloads in the Silverbacks midfield and defense? In addition, will this help create width in the attack?

Will the Eleven be able to break through the Silverbacks back line of McKenzie, Mensing, and Black?

FUN FACTS:

Currently, the Silverbacks are owned by the league and are seeking an independent owner. The former owner of the Silverbacks has leased the naming rights, logo, and stadium to the NASL. The league said it would have a new owner in place by the end of the season. However, f the league does not find a new owner, it will be interesting to see if the Silverbacks stay in Atlanta, relocate, or go extinct.

Jonathan Okafor returned to the Silverbacks after spending this past month on loan to Arizona United S.C. of the USL.

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