In this addition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be discussing Indy Eleven’s final home game of the 2015 season against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS

All-time series record: Strikers lead series 3-1-1 (W,D,L)

4/26/14 Strikers win 3-2 at Lockhart Stadium. Kleberson and Norales score for the Eleven.

8/6/14 Strikers and Eleven tie 0-0 at Carroll Stadium.

9/20/14 Strikers win 2-1 at Lockhart Stadium. Jamie Frías scored for the Eleven.

6/6/15 Eleven win 2-1 at Lockhart Stadium. Victor Pineda had two goals for Indy.

8/29/15 Strikers win 7-1 at Lockhart Stadium. Dan Richards scored for the Eleven.

The last time these two teams played resulted in Indy Eleven’s worse defeat in team history. Since that 7-1 defeat the Strikers have surged to the fourth and final playoff spot in the NASL and control their own destiny for the postseason. As for the Eleven, they look to finish the season strong and play the role of spoiler with two games remaining.

Last weekend the Eleven displayed a variety of ways to create chances to score. In the first half against Minnesota United, the Eleven used the direct long ball, got width in the attack, and tried to play give and goes. In the second half, the Eleven added a quicker pace that resulted in the fire power the Eleven are capable of demonstrating every match. If the Eleven are to continue their success against Fort Lauderdale they must show the same approach in the middle and final third as they did against Minnesota. The Eleven cannot afford to fall back on their previous attacking style of beating defenders one on one or settling for long range shots as they did prior to their win against Minnesota.

Defensively, the Eleven will face one of the best forwards in the league for a second week in a row. Unlike Christian Ramirez, Fort Lauderdale’s Stefano Pinho will have the luxury to move with less restrictions at the front the Strikers attack. During that 7-1 thrashing back in August, Pinho created nightmares for the Eleven and recorded a hat trick. Since that game Tim Regan has not aligned the Eleven in a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the middle, instead opting for a more defensive approach. Once again it will be crucial for the Eleven to not get caught pushing to many forward and get beat on the counter. In addition, containing Pinho in dangerous areas of the field.

FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS:

Head Coach: Günter Kronsteiner

Captain: James Marcelin

NASL fall record: 7-6-5 (W,D,L)

Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 4th/4th

Last game: D, 0-0 v. San Antonio

Formation: (4-2-3-1) GK, Meves; CB, Sanfilippo; CB, Graye; RB, Borrajo; LB, Guerrero; DM, Marcelin (C); DM, Thomas; AM, Freitas; RM, Ramírez; LM, Chin; F, Pinho.

INDY ELEVEN:

NASL fall record: 4-5-9 (W,D,L)

Position in NASL fall/combined standings: 11th/10th

Last game: W, 3-1 v. Minnesota United

Formation: (4-1-4-1) GK, Nicht; CB, Norales (C); CB, Janicki; RB, Franco; LB, Keller; DM, Peña; CM, Mares; CM, Steinberger; RM, Smart; LM, Lacroix; F, Brown.

STATS:

Eleven:

Goals: Dylan Mares, 5; Brian Brown, 4; Erick Norales, 3; Dane Richards, 3; Duke Lacroix, 2; Sergio Peña, 2; Victor Pineda, 2; Don Smart, 2; Zach Steinberger, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 2; Marvin Ceballos, 1; Jamie Frías, 1; Kyle Hyland, 1; Judson McKinney, 1; Brad Ring, 1.

Assists: Dylan Mares, 4; Don Smart, 3; Brian Brown, 2; Daniel Keller, 2; Dragan Stojkov, 2; Wojciech Wojcik, 2; Marvin Ceballos, 1; Kyle Hyland, 1; Duke Lacroix, 1; Victor Pineda, 1; Charlie Rugg, 1.

Goalkeepers: Kristian Nicht has allowed 33 goals on 54 saves and a 1.65 goals against average in 20 games (all competitions).  Keith Cardona has allowed 13 goals on 29 saves and has a 1.44 goals against average in 9 NASL games.

Strikers:

Goals: Stefano Pinho, 16; Marlon Freitas, 7; PC, 5; Jose Angulo, 5; Walter Ramírez, 5; Aly Alberto Hassan, 2; James Marcelin, 2; Léo Moura, 2; Jonathan Borrajo, 1; Gabriel, 1; Bruno Nunes, 1; Frankie Sanfilippo, 1; Dani Sánchez, 1.

Assists:  Stefano Pinho, 7; Marlon Freitas, 5; PC, 4; Chin Shawn, 3; Gabriel, 2; James Marcelin, 2; Dani Sánchez, 2; Evans Frimpong, 1; Léo Moura, 1; Bruno Nunes, 1; Hendry Thomas, 1.

Goalkeepers: David Meves has allowed 8 goals on 26 saves in 8 games and is allowing 1 goal per game. Lionel Brown has allowed 5 goals on 20 saves in 4 games and is allowing 1.29 goals per game. Joe Nasco allowed 0 goals and 1 save in 12 minutes of play.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Indy                                                                            Strikers

GK: Nicht                                                                   GK: Meves

RB: Franco                                                                 RB: Borrajo

CB: Miller                                                                    CB: Graye

CB: Norales                                                                CB: Sanfilippo

LB: Hyland                                                                  LB:  Guerrero

DM: Peña                                                                    DM: Marcelin

CM: Mares                                                                   DM: Thomas

CM: Ceballos                                                               RM: Chin

RM: Stojkov                                                                 LM: Ramírez

LM: Lacroix                                                                  AM: Freitas

F: Brown                                                                      F: Pinho

INJURIES:

Eleven:

Judson McKinney, out (leg). Daniel Cuevas, out (fractured leg). Charlie Rugg out (hernia). Kyle Hyland, Daniel Keller, Duke Lacroix, Sergio Peña are listed as questionable. Dylan Mares and Erick Norales are listed as probable.

Strikers:

Fabian Kling, out (back). Joe Nasco, out (broken leg). PC, out (head). Dani Sánchez, questionable (leg).

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Eleven:

Dylan Mares, midfielder: Young player of the year contender in the NASL has come back from a serious injury and has given Indy Eleven a higher element and pace to their game. His ability to distribute the ball, put his teammates in a position to score, and create his own shot has been what the Eleven has needed. It is impeccable that Mares continues to play at this level if the Eleven is going to be successful against the Strikers.

Strikers:

Stefano Pinho, forward: Leading the NASL in goals and tied for third in assists Pinho has been the best player in the league. He has been named player of the week and month on several occasions this year and is up for Golden Ball (MVP) and Golden Boot (most goals) in the NASL. His athletic ability, speed, and a deadly left footed strike creates gaps in defenses that allows the Strikers to be successful.

REFEREE:

The center referee for this match has been the center for 5 games this year. In those 5 games he has awarded 139 fouls, 22 yellow cards, 0 red cards.

QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:

Just like last year, can Indy Eleven win their last two games at home and look to end the 2015 season on a high?

Will Tim Regan pick a safe line-up considering the last time these two teams played that resulted in a 7-1 defeat?

How will Indy Eleven contain Golden Ball (MVP) contender, Stefano Pinho?

FUN FACTS:

Former Brazilian and Real Madrid star Ronaldo owns a minority stake in the Strikers.

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