PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN at. CHICAGO FIRE
All-time series record: First ever meeting between the two clubs
This US Open Cup game has several story lines and major implications on Wednesday night. First, Peter Wilt was the mastermind who help build the Chicago Fire and Indy Eleven. After leading the Fire to three US Open Cup Championships, an MLS Cup, and Supporters’ Shield Wilt was relieved of his duties. In 2013, Wilt helped launch Indy Eleven and constructed a team that just won the NASL Spring Championship. Only fitting this US Open Cup game be called the Peter Wilt Cup or Schlabst Cup.
Second, four players have represented both the Fire and Eleven; Jon Busch, Marco Franco, Lovell Palmer, and Victor Pineda. It should be fun for both Fire and Eleven fans to see their favorite players match up against their former club. The only exception is Pineda who now plays for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Third, promotion-relegation and fans. Due to the current place of the Chicago Fire and the newly crowned champs of the NASL, promotion-relegation aficionados and social media tyrants see this match as a chance for two teams to fill-flop leagues in order to have an open system of play in the United States. In terms of fans, some disgruntled Fire fans switched allegiance and went south on I-65 to support Indy Eleven. While others have seized the opportunity to trade off in some not-so-friendly banter.
KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN:
The 24 hour rule: It may appalling to say it after Indy Eleven won their first title in club history but this US Open Cup game is just as big as what happened over the weekend. It is difficult for teams to come off an emotionally charged game and perform at an even higher rate a few days later. But if the Eleven want to continue their success and momentum going forward, they have to forget what happened on Saturday and be psychologically ready for the Chicago Fire. Physically the Eleven are ready to face any team in the MLS. But how they handle the Fire mentally will be the key.
Éamon Zayed: If there is a big game to play, there is no doubt Éamon Zayed will be ready. He has a reputation of scoring goals when his team needs him most. In 2012 Zayed scored a hat trick for Persepolis with 20 minutes left to beat Esteghal in the Tehran derby. Fast-forward to 2016 and Zayed scored another hat trick to help Indy Eleven claim their first trophy. Another big match on Wednesday night and Indy Eleven’s performance and outcome will come down to Zayed’s ability to score goals.
Head Coach: Veljko Paunovic
Captain: Razvan Cocis
MLS record: 2-5-5 (W,D,L)
Position in MLS: 10th of 10 in Eastern Conference.
Previous game: D, 1-1 Portland Timbers
Formation: GK, Johnson; CB, Kappelhof; CB, Campbell; RB, Ramos; LB, Vincent; CM, Cocis; CM, Polster; CM, Meira; F, Igboananike; F, Alvarez; F, Accam.
Stats from previous game: Completed 81% of their 339 passes; Total shots 18.
Stats from Fire v. Timbers. Fire are in red.
NASL record: 4-6-0 (W,D,L)
Position in NASL: 1st on 18 points
Previous game: W, 4-1 v. Carolina Railhawks.
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Busch; CB, Falvey; CB, Janicki; RB, Franco; LB, Vukovic; CM, Larrea; CM, Paterson; RM, Mares; LM, Gordon, F, Braun; F, Zayed.
Stats from previous game: Total crosses 34; Total shots 24.
Lovell Palmer (leg) out. Don Smart (knee) questionable. Jair Reinoso questionable.
John Goossens (out). Collin Fernandez (out). Gilberto (leave of absence, unavailable).
New signings ineligible until July
Michael de Leeuw (Fire). Gerardo Torrado (Indy).
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP FOR ELEVEN:
PLAYER MATCH-UP: Battle of the netminders
Jon Busch Sean Johnson
39 Age 27
10 Games 3
900 Minutes Played 270
8 Goals against 2
0.80 GAA 0.66
23 Saves 5
74.2 Saves to shot Ratio% N/A
3 Shutouts 1
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Can they come off an emotionally charged game and be mentally ready to face an MLS squad?
How will the long rest of the Chicago Fire compare to the short rest of Indy Eleven?
How will the tactics and formation of an NASL squad compare to an MLS team?
Chicago Fire defender, Eric Gehrig, is from Crown Point, Indiana.
Featured Image: Schlabst Cup twitter