Indy to play in Alberta and San Fran
As the citizens of the Circle City put their focus and attention on Carb Day, the parade, and the 101st Indy 500, the Eleven will escape to the last frontier of Alberta, Canada to take on FC Edmonton on Saturday afternoon (9 pm Indianapolis time, 7 pm MT) before traveling to San Francisco a week later. These long road trips is exactly what the Eleven need with all the hoopla surrounding 16th and Crawfordsville Road and the dismal week they had against Miami and the Michigan Bucks.
Indy has never had a stellar road record, so the Eleven will be permitted to play loose and free all the way in Edmonton against an opponent that only has 1 win and a draw to their name this season. It is these kind of situations Tim Hankinson needs to have the boy’s come closer together, focus on themselves, and come back to Indianapolis with 3 points and a clean sheet. If everything goes to plan, it will set up a critical match in the City by the Bay a week later as the Deltas currently sit 6 points ahead of the Eleven.
Keys for Indy:
Continue to feed the Beast (aka Braun): In terms of work rate, Justin Braun destroys every forward in the NASL. The Beast is not only willing to work, but he’s prepared to win the ball in the middle and final third of the field. That being said, the Eleven need to feed Braun the rock every chance they get. It doesn’t have to be at his feet or in his general vicinity because you know Braun will track down the ball, retain possession, and create a scoring opportunity. Braun has converted 8 shots on target into 4 goals. He’s battled in 100 duels and has won almost half. Braun has gone to the air on 40 different occasions, winning 23. Braun is willing to do what ever it takes. Now feed the Beast.
Clean sheet: The Eleven have faced the best team in the NASL in the form of The Miami FC the last two weeks. At times the Eleven struggled to transition to defense, apply pressure, pick up their marks within the zonal defense, find a balance in their special awareness in the back line, and forced Jon Busch into undesirable situations. Saturday’s match should be a confidence booster for the Eleven as they face a squad that has only scored 3 goals in 7 league matches. That goal total is the same as it was when the Eleven and Eddies faced off earlier this month. In addition, the Eddies have only one player in double digits in shots with Tomi Ameobi registering 11 and in chances created as Dusitn Corea has 12. Therefore, it’s vital that the Eleven come away with a clean sheet against FC Edmonton.
Play loose and free: It was evident last Saturday against Miami that Tim Hankinson has not lost the locker room. Indy played pretty well, minus a few mental lapses, and went toe-to-toe with the NASL leaders for 90 minutes. Now that the Eleven escaped last week’s panic, they can once again play unrestricted away from home.
Players to watch:
Indy: Lovell Palmer– It was assumed Palmer would take the place of the retired Greg Janicki and the injured Cory Miller at the center back position for the 2017 season, forming a partnership with captain Colin Falvey. That dynamic duo in the middle would have tag team members Marco Franco and Nemanja Vukovic on the outside to create a brick wall of a back line. As injuries and roster adjustments have engulfed Indy Eleven to start the season, Palmer was put in the roll of defensive mid alongside Brad Ring. The flat 4-4-2 that took the form of a 4-5-1 in Indy’s own half frustrated Miami for large portions of the match as the NASL leaders tried to create patterns of play and through balls down the middle. Although Miami kept the majority of the possession, it was retained in their own half.
If Palmer gets the go ahead to start in the middle, he is not there to distribute and add flair to the attack. Instead Palmer will have the bulldog mentality, challenging anyone of the opposite jersey. This will allow Ring and Gerardo Torrado to coordinate Indy’s attack, placing them in more advanced positions. Coach Hankinson talks about the defense and attack working as one and Palmer’s role will help stabilize both fronts. In fact, you could go old school and call Palmer the stopper and Falvey the sweeper in a modern day formation.
FC Edmonton: Adam Straith– If there is one player that is synonymous with FC Edmonton it’s Albert Watson. However, Watson has not seen as many minutes to start his fifth season with the Eddies on top of losing the armband to Nik Ledgerwood. This has opened the door for 2016 NASL Young Player of the Year, Papé Diakité, to form a partnership with Adam Straith. So far this season, Straith leads the team in passing attempts, leads the team in recoveries with 29, is second behind Diakité in clearances (26), and second in the team in duals (27) and aerial duals (8) won behind Watson.
Eleven: Eamon Zayed (will be back to full training next week); Don Smart (out).
Probable formation for Indy Eleven:
Fun facts about Edmonton:
Inside the 5th largest mall in the world, The West Edmonton Mall has the world’s largest indoor lake.
Edmonton can get up to 17 hours of sunlight during the month of June.
Besides the Eddies, Edmonton is home to the Oilers (NHL) and Eskimos (CFL).
PHOTO CREDIT: TREY HIGDON
Edit: This post was updated on 5/27/17.