Eleven Look to Extends Unbeaten Streak to Four Games versus Hammers
#INDvBHM Preview, presented by Heritage Environmental Services
Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion FC
Saturday, September 10, 2022 – 7:00 p.m. ET
IUPUI Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.
Local TV: MyINDY-TV 23
Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)
Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM / exitos943.com
In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers
Live stats: #INDvBHM MatchCenter on USLChampionship.com
2022 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS
Indy Eleven: 8W-14L-5D (-11 GD), 29 pts.; 9th in Eastern Conference
Birmingham Legion FC: 15W-7L-6D (+19 GD), 51 pts.; 5th in Eastern Conference
COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK SPORTS MEDICINE INDY ELEVEN INJURY REPORT
OUT: FW Manuel Arteaga (R knee), FW Aris Briggs (R shin), DF A.J. Cochran (hamstring), GK Bryan Meredith (R hand fracture)
QUESTIONABLE: GK Sean Lewis (L hamstring)
Indy Eleven will carry a three-game unbeaten streak back into Carroll Stadium on Saturday, when it welcomes yet another team in playoff position in Birmingham Legion FC to the Circle City.
While it would take a minor mathematical miracle for the Boys in Blue to qualify for the postseason at this point, what they can certainly do is play spoiler to a few teams over their remaining seven games, starting with a Birmingham side it will face twice in the closing five weeks of play. Legion FC is currently mired in a four-team pack of second- through fifth-place teams in the East separated by just four points, making every point vital towards potential home-field advantages as long as possible in the postseason – which BHM qualified for midweek.
Indy’s focus will continue on building momentum across the final third of the season that began with a seven-point week few saw coming against conference leaders San Antonio FC (1-0 W) and Louisville City FC (2-1 W) and, most recently, new rival Detroit City FC (0-0 draw) last Saturday.
Defense has carried the day for Mark Lowry’s side as of late, with its two shutouts last week equaling the squad’s total across its first 24 outings. To be fair, the Eleven’s defense has been solid throughout the 2022 campaign despite the lack of clean sheets, allowing multiple goals in only 9 of its 27 matches – and just thrice in its last 11 games. Guarding the goal has also been the calling card of Birmingham, their 26 concessions tied for the 4th least across the league. That said, with the only three teams above Legion FC in that category being the last three teams Indy has played, finding ways to break down a stingy opposition will be nothing new for the Eleven.
Which brings about just how much firepower can Indy throw at Legion FC on Saturday? A third game in eight days last weekend at Detroit resulted in an understandably gritty game plan that saw Indy grind the proceedings down to preserve heavy legs, which did produce a shutout, but also only five shots throughout the 90 minutes. However, a nine-shot, six-on-target effort against Louisville last Wednesday is the more likely show of production to be expected on Saturday with the Eleven’s batteries fully recharged through a full week of preparation.
The Hammers enter the weekend on a three-match unbeaten run of their own that has followed Indy’s path, a 1-1 draw at Miami FC over the weekend preceded by a pair of wins over NY Red Bulls II (3-1) and at Memphis 901 FC (4-2). That’s just part of a run that has seen Birmingham notch eight wins in their last 11 outings (8W-2L-1D) since mid-July that helped cement a postseason berth with ample time to spare.
While they hang their hat on defense, Birmingham is no slouch in attack, either. The Alabama side ranks seventh in the league on 45 goals scored, led by USLC veteran Enzo Martinez’s 11 tallies and seven each from Juan Agudelo and Prosper Kasim. In goal for Legion FC is perhaps the name the Brickyard Battalion has shouted in disdain more than anyone else’s, as Matt Van Oekel (0.85 GAA, T-2nd in USLC with 11 shutouts) has guarded goals in Indy for now three teams across seven seasons (Minnesota United FC in 2014, FC Edmonton in 2015-16, and Birmingham since 2019).
LAST TIME OUT
Indy Eleven moved its undefeated streak to three games after a scrappy 0-0 draw against its newest rival, Detroit City FC, on the road last Saturday. The result marked the second shutout in the last three games for Indiana’s Team and goalkeeper Tim Trilk, who needed to make just a pair of saves thanks to a thorough defensive effort by the Boys in Blue throughout the 90 minutes at Keyworth Stadium.
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Tim Trilk; Robby Dambrot, Jesus Vazquez, Mechack Jerome, Jared Timmer; Ayoze (captain), Sam Brown, Justin Ingram, Wilfredo Rivera (Stefano Pinho 58’); Juan Tejada Rodney Michael (Samuel Asante 45’)
IND substitutes: Sean Lewis (GK), Ecris Revolorio, Diego Sanchez
The Miami FC 1 : 1 Birmingham Legion FC
Saturday, Sept. 3 | Stats & Highlights
The visiting Birmingham side scrapped and clawed to claim a point from an active affair at FIU Stadium in South Florida. Birmingham missed an opportunity to take an early lead through Juan Agudelo’s 18th minute penalty kick that was stopped by Jake McGuire, which allowed Kyle Walker’s seeing-eye lash from 22 yards that weaved through several bodies in the six to give Miami the lead in the 32nd minute. Murphy rounded Matt Van Oekel just five minutes later, but when he sent his shot towards the empty net into the side netting, it kept the Hammers within arm’s length heading into the second half.
Bruno Lapa indeed evened the score for Legion FC in the 69th minute, running onto a loose ball inside the area to finish from 10 yards out. Miami had the best chance to move ahead from there, but Van Oekel’s 1-v-1 stop at the top of his area on Romeo Parkes’ 85th minute breakaway maintained a share of the spoils between the two sides right next to each other on the Eastern Conference table.
USL Championship regular season: 2W-4L-0D (6 GF/7 GA)
USL Championship at home: 1W-2L-0D (4 GF/3 GA)
USL Championship on the road: 1W-2L-0D (2 GF/4 GA)
Indy Eleven enters its late-season back-and-forth with Birmingham Legion FC in 2022 trailing the all-time series by a 2W-4L-0D margin. After splitting their two meetings with home shutout wins during Birmingham’s inaugural 2019 season, the two sides spent 2020 apart due to COVID scheduling restrictions but reunited with four matchups in 2021. Indy got off to a flying start via a season-opening 1-0 win in Alabama last May 1, but Legion FC closed strong, posting a pair of one-goal wins at Carroll Stadium in July before notching a 3-1 win at BBVA Field on Oct. 10.
The two sides will close out their 2022 campaigns on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the brand new Protective Stadium in Birmingham, a meeting that was just recently moved forward on the calendar in order to accommodate the UAB Blazers football schedule.
#INDvBHM FAMILIAR FACES:
Only one member of Saturday’s combatants has familiarity in the other’s colors, and that’s Legion FC defender Alex Crognale, who had a six-game cup of coffee with Indiana’s Team while on loan from MLS side Columbus Crew to start the 2019 season.
ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW JUAN TEJADA
Admin is feeling confident after Sam Brown’s gritty stat line at Detroit (team highs with 10 duels won from 15 entered, 7 possessions won, 4 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 fouls won, and a parrrrrrtridge at DCFC) gave this space some accurate clout three games on the trot. So who we feeling this week? We’ll go with the wild card Juan Tejada, as the man who can seemingly power a medium-sized village with the energy he expends over the course of 90 minutes just seems like the right call for a team whose motus operandi these days seems to be “grindy”.
The Panamanian forward has done everything asked of him by head coach Mark Lowry with the exception of scoring, but it feels like its only a matter of time before Tejada gets on the board in blue checkers. However, he does so much else that he can put his stamp on games in other ways – like his hustle inside the penalty area against Louisville that led to Stefano Pinho’s LIPAFC-clinching spot kick. During the Eleven’s banner week at home against San Antonio and LouCity Tejada’s 33 of 36 completed passes proved his effectiveness as a distributor, which may just be the way he makes an impact against the Hammers over the weekend.