PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. JACKSONVILLE ARMADA
All-time series record: Tied at 1-1-1
5/9/15 Armada defeated Indy Eleven 1-0 in Jacksonville.
9/5/15 Eleven beat Armada 3-0 in Indianapolis. Zach Steinberger scored two goals and Marvin Ceballos has one.
10/3/15 Armada and Eleven draw 1-1 in Jacksonville. Brian Brown scored for the Eleven.
This is a crucial game for the Eleven if they want to stay in contention for the top spot in the spring season. Going to Jacksonville will not be easy considering the travel on Memorial Day Weekend, the heat and humidity in Florida, and the playing surface that is converted from a dirt diamond into a soccer pitch. But the Armada have had a difficult time carving their way through the waves and find themselves 1 point above last place. The hull of the Armada has been leaking goals, allowing 9 so far this season. They have not found much success in front of the opponent’s net either. In fact all 3 of their goals came in their first two matches of the season, being held scoreless in their last 434 minutes played.
KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN:
A win seals the deal: I predict that if the Eleven win in Jacksonville they will go on to win the spring title. Considering New York, Edmonton, and Carolina have not had their bye week and the Eleven have an easier schedule compared to Minnesota, this is the Eleven’s time to shine.
Continue scoring goals: The Eleven have never scored 4 goals in a NASL match prior to last Saturday. The match against the Armada will be another opportunity for the ‘Boys in blue’ to do it again since the Armada have struggled to keep the ball out of their own net.
Substitute for Janicki: After a vicious collision last weekend, Greg Janicki was replaced by Cory Miller in the back line. Being rushed into action Miller did an excellent job, especially inside the eighteen with 3 clearances. If Miller gets the start it should not unbalance the backline as long as Miller controls his first touch. Other than this, his strengths are similar to Janicki’s in pressing the ball and going up for duals in the air. This will allow Colin Falvey to drop behind for support as he did when Janicki was his battery mate.
Head Coach: Tony Meola
Captain: Matt Bahner
NASL record: 1-1-5
Position in NASL: 10th
Last game: L, 0-1 at Ottawa Fury.
Formation: (4-2-3-1) GK, Miguel Gallardo; CB, Beto Navarro; CB, Tyler Ruthven; RB, Shawn Nicklaw; LB, Matt Bahner; DM, Nicholas Perea; DM, Kevan George; AM, Junior Sandoval; AM, Charles Eloundou; AM, Jemal Johnson; F, Alhas sane Keita.
NASL record: 3-4-0
Position in NASL: 4th
Last game: W, 4-2 v. Minnesota United.
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Busch; CB, Falvey; CB, Janicki; RB, Palmer; LB, Vukovic; CM, Larrea; CM, Mares; RM, Smart; LM, Gordon; F, Braun; F, Zayed.
Brad Ring (knee) questionable. Greg Janicki (concussion) questionable.
Pekka Lagerblom (torn acl) out. Danny Barrow (ankle) questionable. Lucas Scaglia questionable.
Mechak Jerômé and Pascal Millien of the Jacksonville Armada will be unavailable for this match as they will represent Haiti in a friendly against Colombia in Miami.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP FOR ELEVEN:
In 4 matches this year the center referee for the Eleven-Armada matchup has awarded 107 fouls, 17 cautions, and 1 red card. I expect this game to be physical with those kind of numbers.
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Can the Eleven overcome the heat, humidity, and playing surface to beat the Armada?
Now that Justin Braun has his first Eleven goal under his belt, who else will get on the scoring sheet against the Armada?
If Greg Janicki is unavailable for this match, could the fans of Indy Eleven see Cory Miller make his first start of the season?
Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States in terms of square miles at 870.
Jacksonville and Indianapolis have a deep and rich rivalry in sports. The Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL are in the same division. In addition, the Jacksonville Suns and Indianapolis Indians played each other during the 1960’s. The Suns are now the AA affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
The Suns and Armada play in the same stadium, The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
PHOTO CREDIT: JAMES HIGDON