In this edition of Lady Victory and Her Quest for Glory, I will be discussing Indy Eleven’s next opponent in Rayo OKC.
PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. RAYO OKC
Since this is the first ever meeting between Indy Eleven and Rayo OKC, I am not sure what to expect from this match-up. Only time will tell as life is breathed into this rivalry. What I do know is this- you must respect what Rayo OKC has done since the club started this past November. On the field they have built a roster you have to admire as they were able to sign world class players in; Georgios Samaras, Robbie Findley, and Derek Boateng. They also have NASL veterans in Futty Danso, Richard Menjivar, Billy Forbes, and former Indy Eleven captain Erick Norales. Of course having Alen Marcina as head coach, who led the San Antonio Scorpions to the NASL Championship in 2014, does not hurt either.
Off the field, Rayo OKC has had over 12,000 fans come through their turnstiles in their first two home games. Which is remarkable given the fact that they already have a professional soccer team in Oklahoma City in OKC Energy.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR INDY ELEVEN:
Indy Eleven’s first win of the season was massive given the fact it was against the New York Cosmos. However, this is game in Oklahoma City is a must for the Eleven. They have to capitalize on their momentum after an emotional win heading into their bye week if they want to compete in the top half of the table. The Eleven are in a similar situation as last year in terms of results. At the start the 2015 season the Eleven drew their first two games, then went on the road and beat the defending champions in San Antonio. Only to come home and allow a late goal against the Carolina Railhawks in their next match. Following the match against the Railhawks, the Eleven suffered a four game losing streak that put them out of contention in the spring table.
Now I understand comparing last year to this season is difficult in terms of coaching staff and the talent on the roster. But if the Eleven want to stay within striking distance of league leaders Carolina, they have to win on the road. The Eleven can grind-it-out, have an ugly game, or play beautifully- it does not matter because at the end of the day, three points still count as three points.
Strengthen your Achilles
The Eleven have been solid in their first three games but their Achilles heel has been their inability to place shots on frame in the first half. Dylan Mares is the only Eleven player to have a shot on goal in the first half so far this season. Now the Eleven have increased their chances in front of goal every game, but they cannot rely on scoring goals in the dying minutes of a match. If the Eleven want to return to Indianapolis with 3 points, they must create and convert on their opportunities in the first half against Rayo OKC.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jon Busch, goalkeeper: Eventually, the goal posts will belong to Keith Cardona but in the meantime, Busch’s veteran presence has paid dividends for the Eleven. Yes Jon Busch has an outstanding goals against average in the first three games of the season at 0.67. However, I am most impressed with his ability to distribute the ball with his feet and hands. I know the Opta stats are off when it comes Busch’s “accurate passes” and “completed passes” but I think the chalk board below is a good indication of where he is able to distribute the ball. This will be crucial if the Eleven want to take three points on the road.
Michel, midfielder: As Porter stated, Michel has shown flashes of brilliance for Rayo. Those flashes have resulted in the Brazilian scoring 2 crucial goals in Rayo’s first three games. Although listed as a midfielder, he is versatile in playing as an outside defender. Watch for Michel to use his speed on the left flank and challenge Nemanja Vuković and Duke Lacroix, defensively.
Head Coach: Alen Marcina
NASL record: 1-1-1
League standing: 6th
Last game: W, 3-2 v. Miami FC
Formation: (4-3-3) GK, Daniel Fernandes; CB, Futty Danso; CB, Rauwshan McKenzie; RB, Kosuke Kimura; LB, Jared Van Schaik; CM, Derek Boateng; CM, Pecka; CM, Michel; F, Robbie Findley; F, Billy Forbes; F, Richard Menjivar.
NASL record: 1-2-0
League standing: 4th
Last game: W, 2-1 v. Cosmos
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Jon Bush; CB, Greg Janicki; CB, Colin Falvey; RB, Lovel Palmer; LB, Nemanja Vukovic; CM, Nicki Paterson; CM, Brad Ring; RM, Dylan Mares; LM, Duke Lacroix; F, Justin Braun; F, Eamon Zayed.
Squad at full strength-no injuries.
Sebastian Velazquez. Marvin Chavez.
The American Banjo Museum is located in Oklahoma City.
FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Schlotzhauer