PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. Miami FC
After traveling to Jacksonville and back home for a mid-week US Open Cup match against Louisville City, the Eleven will head back to Florida to face Miami FC. The Eleven are the only team in the NASL that can steal the spring season from the New York Cosmos. Of course, Indy has to collect 3 points and hope the Cosmos drop points in their final match against Fort Lauderdale.
This will be the first ever meeting between Indy Eleven and Miami FC. Since their announcement to join the NASL, Miami FC have made headlines around the world. They are backed by media mogul Riccardo Silva and soccer star Paolo Maldini in addition to Alessandro Nesta as head coach- this Miami FC team has Italian flair. Their squad is stacked with players such as; Wilson Palacios, Dario Cvitanich, and Ariel Pedro Martinez. However, the roster on paper has not obtained the same results on the pitch. Recently, Miami has spent a million dollars in bringing in Michael Lahoud and Richie Ryan on transfer. Since these players have joined the squad, Miami has been able to clinch their first win in franchise history. Although Miami is at the bottom of the table, they look to conclude the spring season on a high note and build momentum heading into the fall.
KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN:
Do not worry about the rest of the league: Any team vying to win a league has the good fortune of keeping an eye on the table to see where the chips have fallen in their favor. In the case of Indy Eleven, they are 4 points back of the New York Cosmos with a game at hand. This weekend marks the final game for New York this spring and the Eleven can only pray the Cosmos drop points in Fort Lauderdale if they want the chance to win the spring title. However, the Eleven cannot be distracted once they take the field for warm-ups against Miami. They simply have to focus on the game at hand and take care of business at FIU Stadium.
Squeeze Lahoud and Ryan: Since Richie Ryan came over from Jacksonville and Lahoud from the Philadelphia Union and New York Cosmos, they have been the focal point for Miami’s success. Appearing for the first time together against FC Edmonton they combined for 148 touches, completed 100 of 113 passes, and winning 15 of 23 duals. Against the Wilmington Hammerheads in US Open Cup play Lahoud and Ryan had a similar effect; collecting 197 touches, completing 132 of 162 passes, and recovered the ball 14 times.
If the Eleven want to be successful in South Beach on Saturday night, they need to squeeze down the space Lahoud and Ryan have with the ball and place the burden on an already leaking back line of Miami to push the ball forward. If placing pressure on their defensive midfielders makes the Eleven unbalanced, then taking away Lahoud and Ryan’s options can be just as effective.
Head Coach: Alessandro Nesta
Captain: Jonathan Borrajo
NASL record: 1-3-4
Position in NASL: 10th on 6 points
Previous NASL game: W, 1-0 v. FC Edmonton
Last game: L, 1-2 v. Wilmington Hammerheads in US Open Cup.
Formation in US Open Cup: (4-2-3-1) GK, Sierra; CB, Trafford; CB, Adailton; RB, Franco; LB, Leroux; DM, Ryan; DM, Lahoud; AM, Martinez; AM, Richards; AM, Smith; F, Campos.
NASL record: 3-5-0
Position in NASL: 2nd on 14th points
Previous NASL game: D, 1-1 at Jacksonville Armada.
Last game: W, 2-1 v. Louisville City in US Open Cup.
Formation in US Open Cup: (4-4-2) GK, Cardona; CB, Vukovic; CB, Miller; RB, Franco; LB, Shaffer; CM, Keller; CM, Mares; RM, Smart; LM Lacroix; F, Reinoso; F, Gordon.
Brad Ring (knee) out. Lovell Palmer (leg) out. Siniša Ubiparipović (hip) questionable. Greg Janicki (facial fracture) questionable. Don Smart questionable. Jair Reinoso questionable.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP FOR ELEVEN:
PLAYER MATCH-UP: Battle of the strikers
Justin Braun Dario Cvitanich
2 Goals 3
1 Assists 0
71.1% Passing Accuracy 77.5%
41 Duels Won 32
19 Aerial duels Won 3
35 Recoveries 19
3 Interceptions 1
8 Chances Created 11
64.8% Passing Accuracy opp. Half 74.1%
4 Shots on goal 4
12 Shots off goal 5
The referee for this match has been the center for 6 games in 2016. He has awarded 135 fouls, handed out 22 yellow cards, and 1 red card.
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Can the Eleven overcome the heat and humidity of South Beach and clinch 3 points in Florida for the first time this year?
How will the Eleven contain Michael Lahoud and Richie Ryan?
Can Justin Braun and Éamon Zayed continue to play at a level superior to the rest of the forwards in the league?
Carl Fisher created and built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the city of Miami.
Former Indy Eleven players Dane Richards and Blake Smith play for Miami FC.