Last week Indy Eleven opened a new chapter in their history as they clinched three points in their first USL game against the Richmond Kickers. Another chapter will unfold this week as the Eleven will face FC Cincinnati in their new home, Lucas Oil Stadium.
KEYS TO THE MATCH:
Silence the Indy crowd early– Lucas Oil Stadium is expected to be packed on Saturday night. Yes FC Cincinnati is expected to bring a crowd but the majority of the fans will be there to cheer on Indy Eleven. The sooner Cincinnati can flood their attacking half the quicker they take the crowd out of contention.
Richie Ryan– The Indy Eleven Dream Killer is coming back to Indy. He did it with Ottawa, Miami, and now looks to do the same with Cincinnati. If the team from Ohio looks to have any success at Lucas Oil Stadium it will come from the distribution of Richie Ryan. In their first game of the season Ryan was 82% accurate in the opposing half and will look to feed more devastating passes against Indy Eleven.
Law Firm of Saad and Steinberger– When Zach Steinberger and Soony Saad where involved in Indy’s attack the Boys in Blue were threatening with legal proceedings in front of the Kickers goal. Their goal totals and assists may not always reflect it but if these two continue to thread key passes, Indy Eleven will be an attacking force USL teams do not want to face.
Transition to defense– The players in the blue Adidas jerseys understood their responsibility’s when the Eleven had the ball. But as the game went on and the Kickers saw more of the ball, the Eleven struggled with the role of transitioning to defense. FC Cincinnati may dictate possession for long periods of time so it will be crucial for the Eleven to understand when to pressure, where to cover, and where they need to be balanced in transition.
Don’t foul around the eighteen– The few members left over from Indy Eleven’s NASL days know all too well what Lance Laing can do from set plays. But you add Emmanuel Ledesma in the mix and FC Cincinnati can come at you from all different directions and plays. In order to shut down that aspect of Cincinnati’s tactical approach the Eleven cannot afford to give up senseless fouls around the box.
X-FACTOR: Playing surface
The last time soccer was played at Lucas Oil Stadium real grass was installed for the Chelsea-Inter Milan match in 2013. But the Eleven and FC Cincinnati will be playing on artificial turf. It’s a common misconception that all artificial turf is the same but it’s not. It will be interesting to see the speed of play, how the ball rolls, bounces, and skips across the playing surface at Lucas Oil Stadium. This could be a determining factor in the outcome of the match.
Head Coach: Alan Koch
USL Eastern Conf Standings: 7th
Previous match: W, 1-0 at Charleston Battery on March 17th.
Formation: (4-5-1) GK Evan Newton; CB Dekel Keinan (Captain); CB Forrest Lasso; RB Justin Hoyte; LB Blake Smith (Goal); CM Richie Ryan; CM Corben Bone; CM Kenny Walker; RM Emmanuel Ledesma; LM Lance Laing: F Emery Welshman.
Head Coach: Martin Rennie
USL Eastern Conf Standings: 6th
Previous match: W, 1-0 at Richmond Kickers
Formation: (4-3-3) GK Owain Fon Williams; CB Carlyle Mitchell; CB Reiner Ferreira; RB Karl Ouimette; LB Tyler Pashner: CM Zach Steinberger; CM Nico Matern; CM Matt Watson (Captain); F Soony Saad; F Eugene Starikov; F Jack McInerney (Goal).
Referee: Malik Badawi
AR: Andrew Bigelow and Kevin Lock
Fourth: Joshua Kelly
FC Cincinnati did play Indy Eleven’s NPSL team in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup.
William Henry Harrison has ties to both Indiana and Ohio. He represented Ohio as a U.S. Congressman, was appointed the first Governor of the Indiana Territory by President John Adams, and was the ninth President of the United States (only for a few days).
Oscar Robertson won two high school state titles playing for Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, played college at the University of Cincinnati, and started his professional career with the Cincinnati Royals.
Five former NASL players now play for FC Cincinnati. Nazmi Albadawi (Carolina Railhawks), Tomi Ameobi (FC Edmonton), Lance Laing (FC Edmonton), Richie Ryan (Ottawa Fury, Jacksonville Armada, and The Miami FC), and Blake Smith (Indy Eleven and The Miami FC).
FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT INDY ELEVEN NPSL v. FC CINCINNATI: PHIL DIDION
PHOTO CREDIT: TREY HIGDON OF INDY ELEVEN