Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at North Carolina FC - #NCFCvIND
Saturday, June 24, 2017 – 7:30 P.M. EST
Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park – Cary, North Carolina
Indy Eleven notes
This Saturday is the second leg of back-to-back matches for Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC. The first leg in the two round bout resulted in the “Boys in Blue” collecting their first three points of 2017 and NCFC stagnate in fifth place on the NASL table. Indy’s record against North Carolina improved to 5W-2D-3L in all competitions, giving them the best record against any team in the current NASL lineup with 17 points. Indy’s most notable win, dubbed the “Miracle at ‘The Mike’” occurred against NCFC at the end of the 2016 Spring season. A hat trick from Indy’s star forward Eamon Zayed and a goal from striking partner Justin Braun sealed Indy’s first NASL Spring Championship title after overtaking New York Cosmos on goal differential.
Indy Eleven’s “Fight for Three” finally paid off with the clubs first win in 2017 last Saturday. With a 1W-7D-4L record, Indy has ascended from the bottom of the table into 6th place. “Indiana’s Team’s” win also means that they are no longer the only team in the NASL without a win to their name in the Spring season. Last Saturday, the “Boys in Blue” walked away victorious after a 2-0 shutout against the visiting former Railhawks. After several close calls in the first half, neither team capitalize on any opportunity. Fortunately, Indy’s time to shine came in the 60th minute when forward Justin Braun opened the scoring after a poor clearance from an NCFC defender defected off Braun’s knee directly in front of the goal line. After more chances from both sides, and many magical saves from Eleven goaltender Jon Busch, it was Speas who rose to the occasion. In the 84th minute, Speas rocketed the ball into the right corner after a masterful cross from Goldsmith met the midfielder in the far left corner of the opposition’s box.
After six days with no matches, a rested NCFC will be ready to greet Indy at WakeMed Park. Only collecting one point in their last two NASL matches and being knocked out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last week, the hosts will be looking to find winning ways once more. Although, North Carolina will remain in 5th place on the Spring table no matter the outcome of Saturday’s contest, a win for will put them within a point of overtaking Jacksonville Armada FC for 4th place. In contrast, a loss to Indy will see the “Boys in Blue” within two points of replacing the rebranded club’s fifth place position.
WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: MF BEN SPEAS
In a display of tact and determination, Eleven midfielder Ben Speas returned to scoring glory last Saturday against North Carolina FC. Looking to further Indy’s 1-0 lead, Speas sent a ball flying pass NCFC goal tender Brian Sylvestre that would be the nail in the coffin for the visiting side. His goal that signaled the first win in Indy’s “Fight for Three” was also the first goal the former Columbus Crew midfielder has scored since his return from injury. Furthermore, Speas’ goal also marked his first against NCFC during his time in the NASL. During his stint with Minnesota United FC, Speas saw a 160 minutes in two matches against the former Railhawks, both of which ended in losses for his former club.
Prior to his injury, the NASL veteran opened his scoring account in his second appearance. On April 1st, in the ninth minute, Speas bested Puerto Rico FC keeper Trevor Spangenberg with chip high over the visitor’s head. Unfortunately, the NASL Play of the Week goal from the newcomer wasn’t enough to seal Indy’s first three points early in the season.
WHO TO WATCH NORTH CAROLINA FC EDITION: MF LANCE LAING
No stranger to the league, NCFC’s Lance Laing joins his new club for his 7th consecutive NASL season. Laing’s previous stints include time at former-NASL Minnesota United FC, FC Edmonton and now defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Furthermore, the Jamaican international represented his country on multiple occasions. Laing’s made his youth international debut between 2004 and 2005. Three years later, Laing made his Jamaican first team debut in a friendly 0-0 draw against El Salvador. In 2012, Laing earned a recall to the first team once again to help Jamaica prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Working to repeat his prior NASL successes, Laing has hit the ground running in 2017. The veteran midfielder has racked up five goals so far. However, the once top 2017 goal scorer has slipped into second place behind Indy Eleven alumni Zach Steinberger’s single goal lead. In addition to his goal scoring, Laing is headlining the assist chart with three assists alongside six other playmakers across the NASL, including our own Justin Braun. Laing’s ability to find the back of the net, as well teammates, makes him a priority target to shut down before getting into threatening territory.
MATCH-UP TO MARK: GK JON BUSCH VS. FW MATTHEW FONDY
An unmovable object meeting an unstoppable force; these are words that most accurately describe the upcoming contest between Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch and NCFC’s Matthew Fondy.
Busch joins Indy for his second season after making the move to “Indiana’s Team” in 2016. Last time out, “Buschy” flaunted his skills once more after six saves in Indy’s 2-0 shutout against North Carolina FC. Moreover, Busch’s six saves moved him into a tie for the #3 spot of NASL goalkeepers with the most saves so far in 2017 with 29 saves.
The 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year made it look easy last season after making 70 saves and keeping 11 clean sheets throughout the 2016 regular season competition. Before joining Indy, Busch was with MLS side Chicago Fire SC for a second stint in his career where he made 12 appearances for the “Men in Red”.
Much like Indy’s Busch, NCFC's Matthew Fondy made his NASL debut in 2016 after successful stints in various divisions. Picking up from last season, Fondy has continued his scoring regiment by netting three so far and collecting points for NCFC in each contest he has scored in. Moreover, Fondy’s scoring can be tied to his tenacity to getting in front of the goal. Whether it’s weaving through defenders or finding the ball from teammates, Fondy’s ability to get shots off adds a hard pressing element to NCFC’s strategy. With the second most shots in the NASL to his name (25), it’s only a matter of time before Fondy adds another goal to his stats sheet.