Indy Eleven at Hartford Athletic
Saturday, August 13, 2022 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Trinity Health Stadium – Hartford, Conn.
Local TV: none
Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)
In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers
Live stats: #HFDvIND MatchCenter on USLChampionship.com
2022 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS
Indy Eleven: 6W-12L-4D (-11 GD), 22 pts.; 9th in Eastern Conference
Hartford Athletic: 4W-14L-5D (-13 GD), 17 pts.; 11th in Eastern Conference
COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK SPORTS MEDICINE INDY ELEVEN INJURY REPORT
OUT: Aris Briggs (R shin), Bryan Meredith (R hand fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: Manuel Arteaga (R knee)
* IND’s Sam Brown will receive a one-game suspension from USL for caution accumulation (eight) should they receive a yellow card in any game up to and including Aug. 31 vs. LOU
A two-game road swing for Indy Eleven against teams in proximity on the Eastern Conference table kicks off Saturday evening against a Hartford Athletic side equally as desperate for a positive result.
Let’s start with something positive that is all but certain to happen – a new club record to be had. After tying “Eleven Original” midfielder Brad Ring with his 115th appearance for the Boys in Blue last weekend against Pittsburgh, captain Ayoze will claim the club’s record all to himself the next time the Spaniard takes the field – and there’s no reason he shouldn’t clinch that with a start on Saturday.
One thing Ayoze’s influence hasn’t been able to overcome has been Indy Eleven’s summer swoon, as Indiana’s Team has grabbed just two points from its current 10-game winless streak dating back to mid-June. Despite that, the Boys in Blue enter the final third of their campaign this weekend with the playoff line still in sight thanks to a pair of games in hand on seventh place Miami FC, but with 12 points to make up there are no opportunities to waste – especially with four straight matches against teams above the playoff line following the squad’s short road trip.
After going five straight games without a goal during the victory drought, the Indy attack has shown some production as of late, scoring once during the first two games of its recent three-game homestand (and really all three if you choose to recognize Stefano Pinho’s late strike last weekend against Pittsburgh that sure looked to have crossed the goalline … which we do). However, after allowing just one goal in five straight matches to stay in games through the Memphis match, Indiana’s Team has conceded five times in the last two outings. With five new players brought in since early July now entrenched in the squad, there would be no better time for a complete performance from the new look Eleven than Saturday night.
On the opposite bench the story is much the same, with Hartford entering the match on a seven-match winless streak (0-5-2). Sitting 17 points below the playoff line with 11 games remaining on its schedule, Athletic is spiraling rapidly towards “mathematically eliminated from postseason contention” status, making Saturday’s game just as much of a “must-win” for the Connecticut side.
It’s been a season of three big swings for Athletic, whose 1-0 loss at Carroll Stadium on April 30 gave it a 0-6-1 start to the campaign, followed by a 4-3-2 run through May and June. Hartford’s surprising 2-0 home win over Colorado Springs on June 28 marked its last three-point result, with its seven-game winless skid including three consecutive one-goal defeats at First Trinity Stadium to Tampa Bay (2-3), Pittsburgh (1-2), and most recently Birmingham (0-1) on July 30.
Athletic is led in attack by Liberian right-sided threat Joel Johnson, a seven-season veteran of the USL Championship who leads the side with four goals, while forward Rashawn Dally has gathered his team-high four assists while coming primarily off the bench. Meanwhile, midfielder sits second on the squad in both categories, collecting three goals and three assists each. In goal, New England Revolution II loanee Yannik Oettl has taken over the reins since mid-June, starting the squad’s last 10 matches and posting a 1.50 goals against average and 2-6-2 record in that span.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite going up a man for the final half-hour plus, Indy Eleven couldn’t overcome a pair of Russell Cicerone finishes early in each half at Carroll Stadium. The Riverhounds striker first hit paydirt in the 13th minute by heading in a Daniel Rovira cross, and he doubled the lead in the 52nd minute with a far post tap-in of a low square ball from Albert Dikwa. Pittsburgh’s celebration was muted after midfielder Marc Ybarra saw his second caution two minutes later, but the Eleven were unable to capitalize … at least officially, as Stefano Pinho’s 87th minute strike from distance looked to have cross the goalline but was not counted as a goal, negating an opportunity for the Boys in Blue to earn a chance at a late equalizer and epitomizing the squad’s unfortunate luck as of late.
Memphis 901 FC 3 : 1 Hartford Athletic
Sat., August 6 | Stats
Hartford had a lead for all of four minutes before its own luck changed in Memphis, where 901 FC continued to keep pace with the Eastern Conference leaders. The scoreboard got active as halftime approached, as Prince Saydee’s 37th minute tally put the visitors ahead before Aaron Malloy (41’) and Zach Carroll (44’) scored in quick succession to turn the tide towards the home side. It took until the 87th minute for Memphis to find its insurance tally through Nighte Pickering, securing a just result that saw 901 FC outshoot Athletic by a 22-10 margin.
SERIES VS. HARTFORD:
USLC regular season: 3W-1L-0D (7 GF/3 GA)
Road record: 0W-1L-0D (1 GF/2 GA)
The growing series between Indy Eleven and Hartford Athletic enters its fifth meeting on the weekend, and all four previous affairs have been taken by the home side. That includes this season’s first meeting on April 30, when Ayoze’s first half count counted for all the scoring in the Eleven’s 1-0 triumph at Carroll Stadium.
The series launched in 2019, when Indy got the upper hand in front of a record crowd of 20,251 during its home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium, using Nikolaj Lyngo’s own goal to post a 1-0 victory. Hartford returned the favor in Connecticut later that July with a 2-1 win that saw ex-Eleven striker Wojciech Wojcik score the eventual game-winner. Indy Eleven claimed the series’ biggest win on July 29, 2020, using goals by Nick Moon (4’), Tyler Pasher (51’), Drew Conner (81’) and Matt Watson (87’) to best Hartford 4-1, again at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indy Eleven will again renew acquaintances with attacking midfielder Peter-Lee Vassell on Saturday. The Jamaican midfielder spent the 2021 campaign with Indiana’s Team, appearing in 20 matches while scoring three goals.
ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: DF AYOZE
Hats off – or perhaps we should say “caps” off – in advance to Ayoze for what we expect to be his historic 116th appearance for Indiana’s Team on Saturday. We’ll have more opportunities to gush over the accomplishments of the Spanish maestro in the coming days and weeks, so for now we’ll focus on what “El Capitan” continues to bring to the field – which, as of late, has been generated from the left back position.
This season, the club’s all-time leader in assists has primarily looked to make things happen with crosses, of which he’s snapped off a team-high 50 despite missing several games early in the year as he recovered from a preseason injury. While none have resulted in an assist, the threat those provide are vital to how Head Coach Mark Lowry wants to find success in the final third, and his involvement and service from the left back spot allows for more flexibility in what Lowry can look for from the midfielder(s) in front of him.