PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN v. RAYO OKC
All-time series record: Indy leads 1-0-0
4/30/16 Indy beat Rayo OKC at Yukon 2-1. Goals by Jair Renoso and Nemanja Vukovic for the Eleven.
Rayo OKC looked to be having a successful first year of existence after the controversies that surrounded the club leading up to the season opener seemed to vanish. They were one point from top of the NASL fall table and three points from fourth place in the combined standings. Rayo OKC’s world class superstars in Derek Boateng, Daniel Fernandes, Robbie Findley, Michel, and Georgios Samaras were playing at a high level thanks to their head coach, Alan Marcina, who knows how to win at this level. Then the alarm clock of reality struck midnight as Rayo OKC found itself in a serial situation.
The owner of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, Raul Martin Presa, is also the majority owner of Rayo OKC. Presa sent over Alberto Gellego from Spain to inform OKC officials they were moving in a different direction after their investment was not generating the funds they initially thought they would. Alan Marcina abruptly stepped down and staff members in Rayo OKC’s front office were asked to take pay cuts. Gerard Nus was quickly appointed new head coach the day before OKC’s match against the New York Cosmos and only two staff members stayed to run the day-to-day operations of the club.
Rayo OKC left New York with as good of a result that anyone could imagine in a 1-1 draw. Players are fighting for their careers and fans are cherishing every moment that remains left in the bleak future of Rayo OKC. A wounded animal is the most dangerous in the animal kingdom and those attending the match against Indy Eleven and Rayo OKC should be ready to watch gladiators fight for three points in the rain at Carroll Stadium.
KEYS FOR THE ELEVEN
Communication: Indy Eleven is one of the best teams in the NASL when it comes to communication. However, the Eleven have struggled lately between relaying messages between goalkeepers- to the back line- and to the midfield when it comes to closing down space and the team’s defensive shape. Now that Greg Janicki is back from his suspension, things should get better within the back line but the midfield will have to step up their game against Rayo OKC’s big name players.
Containing OKC’s superstars: Regardless of the starting combination the Eleven employ at the central midfield position, they will have their hands (feet) full against the most talented team to play the Eleven at Carroll Stadium (no disrespect to this year’s Minnesota United or last season’s New York Cosmos team). Brad Ring and company will have the difficult task of containing Rayo’s world renowned players in; Georgios Samaras, Michel, Derek Boateng, Robbie Findley, and Daniel Fernandes. In addition, Turks and Caicos international Billy Forbes who is one of the fastest players in the NASL and one of the best assists man in the league. Communication will be the most important aspect for the Eleven if they want to be successful in containing OKC’s superstars. In addition, the Eleven’s team shape and decision making.
Get the center midfielders involved: Besides communication, the Eleven are at their best when their central midfielders have the highest combinations during the match. Gerardo Torrado and Brad Ring only combined for 12 passes to each other with Torrado sending the ball toward Ring on 7 occasions. In addition, Don Smart, who led the team in crosses and scored the game winner, only received 7 passes from his starting counterparts in the midfield (4 from Torrado and 3 from Paterson when switching the field). This shows that the Eleven’s attack was generated out of their back line and sometimes bypassed the central midfield. In order to get the central midfield involved more in this game and force Derek Boateng in a more defensive midfield role, it would not be surprising if the Eleven played with a diamond in the middle with Torrado as the attacking mid. Torrado’s entire career has been spent as an defensive midfielder but he has shown a keen ability to be versatile and make great decisions in the final third- similar to Joe Cole’s role with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Head Coach: Gerardo Nus
NASL overall record:
Combined table: 5th on 25 points.
Fall table: 4th on 13 points.
Previous match: D, 1-1 at New York Cosmos.
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Fernandes; CM, Danso; CM, Ibeagha; RB, Kimura; LB, Hernandez; CM, Boateng; CM, Michel; RM, Velasquez; LM, Forbes; F, Samaras; F, Findley.
Head Coach: Tim Hankinson
Captain: Colin Falvey
NASL overall record: 9-7-2
Combined table: 1st on 34 points.
Fall table: 1st on 16 points.
Previous match: W, 1-0 V. FC Edmonton.
Formation: (4-4-2) GK, Busch; CB, Colin Falvey; CB, Cory Miller; RB, Marco Franco; LB, Nemanja Vukovic; CM, Brad Ring; CM, Gerardo Torrado; RM, Dylan Mares; LM, Nicki Paterson; F, Éamon Zayed; F, Youla.
Eleven: Justin Braun (MCL sprain right knee) out. Marco Franco (bone bruise right foot) out. Omar Gordon (hamstring) questionable. Duke Lacroix (sprained ankle) questionable. Neil Shaffer (adductor) questionable..
Rayo OKC: Sebastian Velasquez left Rayo OKC’s match v. Cosmos with an injury.
PROJECTED STARTING LINE-UP
In two matches this year the center ref for Saturday night’s match has awarded 49 fouls and 6 yellow cards.
QUESTIONS HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH
How will the Eleven deal with the wounded animal in Rayo OKC?
Will the Eleven’s communication and decision making be better from the start of the match against Rayo OKC?
In order to generate the attack from the midfield will the Eleven change their shape in the midfield? Will this shape help contain OKC’s fire power?
Scott Stewart will be subbing in for Indy Eleven’s play-by-play man Greg Rakestraw on Saturday.