PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. MINNESOTA UNITED
All-time series record: Minnesota United leads 4-0-2
5/14/14: Loons win 3-2 in Minnesota. Kleberson scores (pk) for Indy.
8/16/14: Loons win 5-1 in Minnesota. Kleberson scores for Indy.
10/11/14: Eleven beat Minnesota United 2-0 in Indianapolis. Goals from Pineda and Jhulliam.**
5/16/15: Loons win 3-1 in Indianapolis. Sergio Peña scored for Indy
9/2/15: Loons win 1-0 in Minnesota.
10/17/15: Eleven beat Minnesota United 3-1 in Indianapolis. Goals for Indy by Brown, Mares, and Ring.
**FIRST HOME WIN IN CLUB HISTORY.
We may see history at Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday night. Only three points separate leaders Minnesota and 5th place Indy Eleven. The Carolina Railhawks and FC Edmonton play each other on Sunday afternoon as well and the New York Cosmos hosting the Tampa Bay Rowdies. If Indy Eleven is dealt a good hand, they could be 1 point off the top of the table by weekend’s end. In addition, the teams between the Loons and the Eleven; Carolina, Edmonton, and New York have yet to take their bye week, which means Indy Eleven and Minnesota United control their own destiny. The Eleven are unbeaten this year and the Loons are the hottest team in the league. Adding to the story line is this, Indy Eleven have never beat Minnesota United outside the month of October. In a month when the world will see the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, Indy Eleven could make it a memorable month for all Hoosiers in the Circle City with a win over Minnesota.
WHAT THE LOONS ARE GOOD AT:
Minnesota United are good at three things. First, they are dangerous on the counter. In 6 games this year the Loons have scored 3 goals from the counter. Second, when United are on the counter watch for their patterns of play and designed runs in front of goal. Third, when the opposing team has the ball, Minnesota is excellent at pressuring the ball and creating turnovers when all of the Loons players are behind the ball in the first and middle third of the field. The Loons led the league in goals last year with 54 and already have 11 in just 6 games this season because of their ability to do the previous things so well, combined with the acquisition of Lance Laing, Stefano Pinho, and Ben Speas makes this United team is the real deal.
KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN:
There is only one man that can defeat Superman: Last Saturday in Fort Lauderdale Jon Busch saw his signal in the sky and responded. Busch had one of the best goalkeeper performances in the NASL this season, as he faced 6 shots and saved everyone. Now Busch will be called into action again but this time will have to face Christian Ramirez, aka Superman, who is tied for the league lead in goals at 4, on top of being the all-time leading goal scorer in Minnesota United history. One thing is for sure, if the Eleven want the chance to beat Minnesota then Jon Busch has to play even better this week.
Pressure from the first defender: In their last two games the Eleven have struggled with the first defender applying pressure on the ball. This allowed FC Edmonton to score two weeks ago in their 1-1 draw with Indy and permitted Fort Lauderdale to play deadly passes into the box, forcing Jon Busch to save the day on several occasions. If the Eleven are to deny Minnesota from playing penetrating passes or shots on frame, the first defender must apply pressure. This being said; the second, third, and fourth defenders must give cover and balance for this to work. In addition, it cannot be left up to the back line to be the first defender. It starts with the midfielders and forwards playing a crucial role in rejecting penetrating passes.
Find the Loons weakest link: Minnesota does not have too many weak links as they are tied for the league lead in goals scored with 11, tied for the lead in shutouts at 4, and are tied with the Eleven in allowing the fewest goals in the NASL this season with 4. But their weakest link is actually their goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock. When it comes to blocking shots or being called upon for the big save, Ndjock is one of the best in the league when he is on his goal line. It is when Ndjock is away from his comfort zone he struggles. In 2 of the 4 goals he has allowed this season, he was caught off his line against Carolina and mishandled a ball that led to Ottawa scoring an equalizer. If the Eleven want to score against Minnesota they will need to force Ndjock off his line and challenge him in areas he is not comfortable in.
Head Coach: Carl Craig
Captain: Aaron Pitchkolan
NASL record: 4-1-1
Position in NASL: 1st
Last game: W, 2-0 v. Jacksonville Armada.
Formation: (4-1-4-1) GK, Ndjock; CB, Davis; CB, Lowe; RB, Venegas; LB, Davis; DM, Brovsky; AM, Anor; AM, Speas; RM, Cruz; LM, Pinho; F, Ramirez.
NASL record: 2-4-0
Position in NASL: 5th
Last game: D, 0-0 at Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Busch; CB, Falvey; CB, Janicki; RM, Palmer; LM, Vukovic; CM, Ubiparipović; CM, Larrea; RM, Gordon; LM, Mares; F, Braun; F, Reinoso.
Brad Ring (knee) questionable.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP FOR ELEVEN:
PLAYER MATCH UP: 10 v. 10
Siniša Ubiparipović Ben Speas
0 Goals 3
1 Assists 1
78% Passing Accuracy 67%
10 Duels Won 19
0 Aerial duels Won 0
17 Recoveries 16
5 Interceptions 1
6 Chances Created 11
68.5% Passing Accuracy opp. Half 58.3%
In two games this year, the center ref for this match as awarded 50 fouls, 7 yellow cards, and 1 red card.
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
How will the Eleven contain the fire power of Minnesota United, especially Christian Ramirez?
Will the Eleven continue with a 4-4-2 formation or will Coach Hankinson switch to a 4-5-1 or 5-3-2 knowing the Eleven have to go for goal but need balance behind the ball with Minnesota’s lethal counter-attack?
Will Justin Braun erase his scoring drought and find the back of the net?
Former Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht (pictured above) signed with Minnesota United this offseason.
There are 813,976 recreational boats registered in Minnesota. That is one boat for every 6.7 people, more than any state.
Tonka Trucks and Wheaties are made in Minnesota.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Schlotzhauer