PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS

All-time series record: Strikers lead series 3-1-2

4/26/14 Strikers win 3-2 at Lockhart Stadium. Kleberson and Norales scored 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.

10/24/16 Eleven win 2-1 at Carroll Stadium. Don Smart and Brian Brown scored the Eleven.

Indy Eleven’s match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is a trap game for three reasons. First, fans of the NASL are familiar with the Brazilian influence within the Strikers squad. However, not much is known about their capabilities on the field. So far, the Strikers have drawn with Miami FC and the Jacksonville Armada, who currently sit at the bottom of the table. The Strikers two losses have come against teams who are in the upper half of the table in Minnesota United and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Last week, the Strikers picked up their first three points of the season by defeating league leader’s Carolina 3-1. That game was difficult gauge as the Railhawks had major holes in their back line due to injuries.

Second, this will be the first time since Indy Eleven traveled to Arizona for preseason that they will be playing in whether that could reach temperatures as high as ninety degrees. I can imagine some of the Eleven players will struggle to readjust to the heat and humidity, let alone the 1,000 mile flight to Fort Lauderdale.    

Third, the Eleven have a massive home game the following week against Minnesota United. If the Eleven want to stay in contention for the top of the table, they have to go on the road first and do well against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. But I could understand if their minds are looking a week ahead against Minnesota since the Eleven have never beat the Loons outside the month of October.

KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN:

Passing combinations: Against the Cosmos the highest passing combination was; Dylan Mares to Brand Ring (9) and Nicki Paterson to Lovell Palmer (9). When Indy traveled to Oklahoma City, their highest passing combination was; Palmer to Gordon (10). This shows where Indy are able to retain possession and how successful the Eleven are in pushing the ball forward. In their three draws, the Eleven’s the highest passing combinations have been defender to defender. The only exception was during the Ottawa Fury game where Brad Ring played the ball back to Greg Janicki on 9 occasions.

Passes inside the eighteen: In five games this spring the Eleven have only had 14 successful passes inside the eighteen. This is ironic because all of the Eleven’s goals have come from inside the box. For this game against Fort Lauderdale, I would like to see more combinations in and around the eighteen to create gaps in the Strikers back line. Mixing in crosses and combinations allows the Eleven to be more diverse in their attack and keep the enemy honest. It will take the pressure off the outside mids for having to deliver a perfect cross every time and let the forwards stay within proximity, working together instead of relying on their individual strengths. Also, this will give Éamon Zayed the ability to play to his forte of creating goal scoring opportunities inside the eighteen. Zayed had a season low 18 touches last week against FC Edmonton with four coming from inside the box. But in order for this to work the Eleven’s attacking play makers must set themselves up to receive and distribute the ball in one to two touches- something the squad has struggled with in the final third this season.  

Indy v. OTT passes in 18
Indy Eleven v. Ottawa on April 9th. The Eleven had 7 passes in the box, the most they have had all season.
Indy v. FCE passes in 18
Indy Eleven’s last game against FC Edmonton, the Eleven only had one pass in the box.

Nicki Paterson: In the two games Indy Eleven have won this season, Nicki Paterson’s passing accuracy is above 72%. During the three games the Eleven have drawn, Paterson’s passing accuracy was below 69%. Against the Cosmos and Rayo OKC in which the Eleven won, Paterson was successful on 27 or more passes. In the three draws, Paterson was well below that mark, except in the first game of the season against Tampa Bay. Granted Paterson was substituted for in 3 of the 5 games, but it shows when Paterson is on, the Eleven are successful.

STRIKERS

Head Coach: Caio Zanardi

Captain: Jean-Marc Alexandre

NASL record: 1-2-2

Position in NASL: 8th

Last game: W, 3-1 at Carolina Railhawks

Formation: (4-2-3-1) GK, Diego Restrepo; CB, Dalton; CB, Agbossoumonde; RB, Attakora; LB, PC; DM, Fernandes; DM, Alexandre; AM, Núñez; AM, Moura; AM, Angulo; F, Santos.

INDY ELEVEN

NASL record: 2-3-0

Position in NASL: 4th

Last game: D, 1-1 v. FC Edmonton

Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Busch; CB, Janicki; CB, Falvey; RB, Palmer; LB, Vukovic; CM, Paterson; CM, Ring; RM, Gordon; LM, Ubiparipović; F, Braun; F, Zayed.

INJURIES:

Eleven:

Brad Ring (ankle), questionable.

Strikers:

N/A

PLAYER MATCH UP:

Nicki Paterson                                                 Stats                                        Jean-Marc Alexandre 66.7%                                                             Passing Accuracy                                79.4% 

14                                                                    Duels Won                                               23

3                                                                      Aerial duels Won                                      2

11                                                                    Recoveries                                                 15

10                                                                    Interceptions                                             8

8                                                                      Chances Created                                       2

66.7%                                                            Passing Accuracy opp. Half                79.4%

PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP: ELEVEN

projected lineup v. FTL 5.14.16

REFEREE:

The center referee for this match is typically a 4th official and was in the same role for the 2015 NASL Soccer Bowl Championship. This will be his first game as a center ref this year.

QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:

Can the Eleven go to Fort Lauderdale and pick up points despite having to play in the heat and hosting Minnesota United next week?  

Will we see Indy Eleven’s attack become more diverse inside the final third?

After twisting his ankle in Oklahoma and picking up a few knocks last week v. Edmonton, will Brad Ring play in Fort Lauderdale or will the Eleven save him for next week’s encounter against Minnesota United?  

FUN FACTS:

January 19th, 1977- The only time it snowed in Fort Lauderdale. It is safe to say you will not need a winter jacket if traveling to the game!

Former Indy Eleven players Kleberson and Victor Pineda now play for Fort Lauderdale.

PHOTO CREDIT OF FEATURED IMAGE: FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS

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