BY MICHAEL CARNEY
The Eleven welcome the San Francisco Deltas to Carroll Stadium for the first time in history tomorrow afternoon. The Eleven will look to capture their first three points of the season and move up in the standings. On the flip side the Deltas are looking forward to continuing their earlier success.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR INDY ELEVEN:
Next man up
The bye week came at the perfect time as the injury bug has forced the training table to be overworked. Fortunately, the week off has given Coach Hankinson time to adjust, rearrange his line-up, and use the motivating slogan from the horseshow; next man up. This match will demonstrate how much depth the Eleven’s roster truly is. Do not be surprised if Hankinson delivers a curve ball in the starting line-up to catch the Deltas, media, and fans on their heels for Saturday’s match.
4-4-2 or 4-3-3?
So far this season Indy Eleven has deployed their traditional 4-4-2 with a diamond in the middle and a 4-3-3. As the injuries mount, we will see the likes of Daniel Keller, Craig Henderson, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic have a major influence on Saturday’s game. I predict the Eleven will institute a 4-4-2 given the injury situation and how the Deltas arrange their tactics. If Henderson gets the start on the wing, he should start on the right flank as this will help the Eleven in two aspects. First, it will not constrict Nemanja Vukovic when he wants to push forward, allowing him to continue to be the team leader in crosses and give freedom to Thompson’s creativity. Second, it will help the weak side and fill in the space in front of the reliable Marco Franco.
Take advantage of the atmosphere and turf
The Deltas have yet to play on artificial turf in their first season. Therefore, the Eleven must take advantage of the playing surface and crowd on Saturday afternoon. With all due respect to the Deltas and the rest of the NASL, the atmosphere at Carroll Stadium is superior to the rest. The Eleven must take advantage of the atmosphere and turf and take the Deltas out of their game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Most experts thought Indianapolis was a retirement destination for the 37 year old Torrado. He has busted that myth in pieces. In fact, Torrado has seen a rejuvenation in his game, going from a hard nose defensive midfielder to a number 10. He leads the team in total passes, 76% accurate in the oppositions half, and led the team in total passes in Indy’s last match against PRFC going 46-60 with 70 touches. Since this is a home match, look for Torrado to be more aggressive and advance his position. Having Vukovic on his left and Ring behind him will allow Torrado to stay central and focus exclusively on the team’s attacking principles.
The most athletic, dynamic, and diverse player last season for the Eleven, Vukovic is producing once again this season. He is listed as a defender and plays in the fullback position. But the modern game demands an outside back to be disciplined with his defensive responsibilities supplemented with attacking prowess. He is second on the team in completed passes, leads the team in crosses, and ranks towards the top in chances created. A match up this Saturday will showcase Jackson (forward) and Vukovic (defender with a modern day twist) on the left flank as both will deploy speed, aggressiveness, and the ability to create chances.
Nana Attakora and Reiner, center backs
Only three games in and Marc Dos Santos’s side has only allowed 2 goals in 270 minutes of play. The rock of their back line has been the center back play of Nana Attakora and Reiner. Attakora, Reiner, and Ouimette are in the league’s top 10 in clearances. In addition, Attakora and Reiner have swept away any outbreak by the opposing team through winning duals and interceptions. Whoever wins the 2v2 battle between Justin Braun and Eamon Zayed v. Attakora and Reiner will win the match.
PROJECTED LINE-UP V. DELTAS:
Don Smart (quad strain) out for 3-4 weeks. Ben Speas (groin) out for 4-6 weeks.
This will be the first match for the center referee as the head official this year.
Indy Eleven added midfielder Arian Ables. The Depauw University star has been training with the Eleven for some time and the club made it official this week.
Tom Heinemann has scored two goals against Indy Eleven in his career.
The Deltas and Eleven faced off for the first time on March 25th. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.