Preview of Indy Eleven v. Nashville SC
On Saturday Indy will welcome a team from the Music City for the first time in their history. Established in 2016, Nashville SC has already secured a strong fan base, a talented roster, and a coveted spot in MLS.
Slated for a noon kickoff, Indy Eleven and Nashville SC will be considered one of the premier USL matches this weekend given that two former MLS managers will lead the charge from the sideline while former MLS and English Premier League prodigies will boast the on field talent.
Nashville comes in riding a two match winning streak defeating Bethlehem Steel and Charlotte Independence. NSC’s counterpart, Indy Eleven, will look to start a winning streak after coming away with a rain soaked 1-0 win in North Carolina. Both come in with players that made the USL team of the week in Tyler Pasher and Alan Winn.
KEYS TO THE MATCH:
Take advantage of Indy’s makeshift line-up: Although they came away with a one goal win last Saturday Indy will have a different starting eleven with Karl Ouimette out with a red and Nathan Lewis Carlyle and Mitchell possibly out with injuries. Nashville will need to take early advantage of a slimmed down Indy roster and improvised line-up.
The attack starts with the goalie: Remember when Landon Donovan scored against Algeria to send the U.S.A. to the next stage of the world cup? What you probably don’t remember is that attack started with US’s goalie Tim Howard. Same is true for Nashville SC. In two of the three goals they have scored this year, it has been started by their keeper Matt Pickens. Watch how Nashville’s transitions to attack when Pickens has the ball.
Contain Nashville’s speed– Typically teams contain an opponent’s speed with three variations of tactics. The first option is man marking a player at all times. This is only effective at the youth level. Second, have the midfield and backline establish two lines, sit deep, keep the speedsters in front, absorb the pressure, and wait to counter. The third option is keeping possession. Nashville has created opportunities by playing threw balls or long balls that allow Alan Winn, Michael Cox, and Ropapa Mensah to fly past the defenders and score. If the Eleven want to keep the speed demons in check they will have to have a balanced approach of sitting back and possess more than 30% of the ball than they did last week against North Carolina FC in order to keep these roadrunners under control.
Overload NSC’s netminder– Former Tampa Bay Rowdies shot stopper Matt Pickens is still one of the toughest goalies to crack at the ripe age of 36. Pickens has already made some ridiculous saves look normal in the early stages of the 2018 USL season. If Indy Eleven want to score they will have to do so with accuracy, power, connect on crosses from late runs, and pounce on rebounds.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Tyler Pasher (IND) – Although it’s early the most consistent player for Indy Eleven thus far has been left back Tyler Pasher. The 23 year old Canadian has started all three matches, produced more crosses than any Eleven player, scored the game winner last week in Carolina, and was named to this week’s USL Team of the Week. If the Eleven are going to be successful against Nashville look for Pasher tear up the left side of the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Matt Pickens (NSC) – Young keepers take notes: watch how quickly Pickens’s feet move to cover ground, his ability to set his feet, get his hands out to the side, and his body position. Then watch him make the absurd look easy. The former MLS and Queens Park Rangers goalie is one of the most intimidating presence on the field given his stature and beard. In three matches this season, Pickens is tied for first in the USL with three clean sheets, recorded 10 saves, and has not allowed a goal since losing 2-0 to Louisville City FC on March 17th.
POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUP:
Indy in red and white. Nashville in yellow.
Ref: Rosendo Mendoza
AR: Cory Richardson
AR: Jeffrey Swartzel
Fourth: Youssef Elmessoussi
Owain Fon Williams took home USL Fans choice for save of the week.
Former University of Evansville men’s soccer head coach Mike Jacobs is Technical Director and Vice President of Soccer Operations for Nashville SC.
Current Nashville SC assistant coach David Proctor is from South Bend, Indiana.
FEATURED PHOTO: MATT EDWARDS