NASL friends embark on their first season in the USL
After Indy Eleven suffered their first loss in their inaugural USL campaign against FC Cincinnati, the Boys in Blue will travel to a familiar venue in WakeMed Soccer Park and take on a team that is looking to snap a two game losing streak in their first season in the USL, North Carolina FC.
As fans of Indiana’s team adjusts to Indy Eleven’s new roster and league they will see several familiar faces in NCFC in the form of Connor Tobin, Futty Danso, Austin Da Luz, and Kyle Bekker.
KEYS TO THE MATCH:
North Carolina FC:
Score– The one consistent thing with Colin Clarke is his teams are balanced. They don’t give up too many goals but do not create many chances either. If they want to score against Indy they must be quick in transitioning to the attack and score.
Tighten the defense around the box and limit senseless fouls– NCFC had major issues defending in and around their own eighteen against Tampa Bay and Richmond. Both the Rowdies and Kickers were given too much time on the ball and were able to split NCFC defender easily. To make matters worse NCFC has given up two penalty’s in their first two matches. If the home team wants anything to do with securing three points they must close down on the ball quicker, ensure their defensive space is correct and reduce the silly fouls.
Limit the turnovers– The Eleven executed the final third with brilliance, pace, and creativity. But it was a struggle for the Eleven to consistently keep possession, play with pace, and look for penetrating passes in the middle to final third. FC Cincinnati deserves some credit for their ability to close down space and pressure the ball. But if the Eleven want to be successful in North Carolina they have to limit the number of touches they take while those off the ball must find the outlet to release the Eleven from pressure.
Connect on crosses– Indy Eleven delivered 23 crosses during their 90 minute match against FC Cincinnati with the majority coming from Tyler Pashner and Ben Speas. Unfortunately, the Eleven only connected once. If the Eleven are going to continue to be a team that gets into the box via crosses, they will have to nail down timing dynamic runs with accurate driven balls.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Zach Steinberger (IND) – In his first two games of the season Steinberger has shown he’s ready to break out on the stat sheet. Steinberger has been the most consistent Indy Eleven player in each of their first two matches. In addition, he gets stronger as the game progresses. In his last match Steinberger had four shots on goal and improved his passing accuracy in the opposing half by almost 40%. Once Steinberger gets rolling the USL won’t be able to stop him.
Austin da Luz (NCFC)– A familiar name in the NASL da Luz has been with the Railhawks since 2014. Although he started in a central midfield position, da Luz does the most damage against opposing teams from the wing. In their first two games da Luz has been heavily involved in his team’s attack so don’t be surprised if NCFC is able to move from the middle to final third thanks to da Luz.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUP:
Ref: Kevin Broadley
AR: Benjamin Wooten
AR: Jeremy Smith
Fourth: Aaron Gallagher
Indy Eleven’s first win in their history came against North Carolina FC, then called the Carolina Railhawks, on July 12th, 2014 at Wakemed Park. Goals from Ben Spencer and Don Smart.
Indy Eleven clinched the 2016 NASL Spring Championship after defeating NCFC 4-1 on June 11th, 2016. Eamon Zayed scored a hat trick and Justin Braun recorded one goal.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Schlotzhauer