Eleven Look to Beat the Weather – and ATL UTD 2 – on Wednesday Evening
Indy Eleven at Atlanta United 2
Wednesday, September 28, 2022 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Fifth Third Bank Stadium – Kennesaw, Ga.
Local TV: None
Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)
Radio (Spanish): none
In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers
Live stats: #ATLvIND MatchCenter on USLChampionship.com
2022 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS
Indy Eleven: 10W-15L-5D (-14 GD), 35 pts.; 9th in Eastern Conference
Atlanta United 2: 5W-20L-5D (-35 GD), 20 pts.; 13th in Eastern Conference
COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK SPORTS MEDICINE INDY ELEVEN INJURY REPORT
OUT: FW Aris Briggs (R shin), GK Bryan Meredith (R hand fracture)
** Jesus Vazquez will receive a one-game suspension from the USL Championship due to caution accumulation (8th caution of season) should he see a yellow card in Saturday’s match
NATIONAL TEAM DUTY:
FW Rodney Michael – Sierra Leone
As Hurricane Ian races into the Gulf of Mexico and towards the southeast United States, Indy Eleven will be looking to dart in and out of Georgia for Wednesday’s contest at Atlanta United 2. As of publishing time on Tuesday it looks as if the match will go off without a hitch, a good sign for an Eleven team looking to maintain some late season momentum in its penultimate road contest of the 2022 campaign.
One thing the Eleven will be looking to change up is its road form, which slumped since the summer outside of a scoreless draw at Detroit City FC on Sept. 3. Ever since a 1-1 tie at Miami FC on June 8 brought the team’s road record to a respectable 2W-3L-2D it’s been a bumpy road, with that Detroit draw over Labor Day weekend marking the lone point gained from Indy’s last eight trips outside the Hoosier State.
While much progress has been made in the results category over the last month, all four wins in the Eleven’s current 4W-1L-1D stretch have come at home. With that, you can bet Head Coach Mark Lowry is hungry to show one more sign of improvement as the season winds to a close – proving the recent winning approach and the energy that fuels it can and will travel, even on just two days of rest.
Team depth is vital during these three-game weeks, and Indy got an unexpected boost on that front with the return of defender A.J. Cochran and forward Manuel Arteaga from the injury report during Sunday’s 1-0 win over Loudoun. Cochran started and went nearly an hour after missing the rest of the team’s September slate due to a hamstring injury suffered Aug. 31 against LouCity FC. The wait for Arteaga was even longer, as the Venezuelan striker missed the squad’s previous seven matches since mid-August due to a lingering knee issue before coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s win.
An added bonus will see co-captain Neveal Hackshaw rejoin the squad following his international duty with Trinidad & Tobago at the King’s Cup in Thailand over the last week. Even with a pair of 90-minute performances for the Soca Warriors since last Thursday and a trip halfway across the world on his legs, Hackshaw’s presence along with Arteaga and Cochran gives Lowry even more options to turn over the roster come Wednesday night, making life a little easier on the Eleven manager – and perhaps the legs of a few more of the Boys in Blue during its final three-game week of the campaign.
Rest will absolutely not be an issue for an ATL UTD 2 squad that has played once over the last three weeks, claiming a 2-2 draw at Miami the last time out on Sept. 17. There’s no sugar-coating the fact the Five Stripes have had a rough go of it in 2022, but on the glass-half-full side they do carry a 1-1-1 run of form from their three September contests into Wednesday, including a 2-1 home victory over FC Tulsa back on Sept. 3 that snapped a 12-game winless stretch.
While the Atlanta attack’s 35 goals places in the bottom third of the league it has still served as the bright spot for the squad, led by 20-year old forward Jackson Conway’s 10 goals that set the club’s single-season scoring record. Another 20-year-old, Brazilian outside back Raimar, has proved adept at distributing from the flanks, providing a team-high five assists.
It’s defending that has kept United 2 behind the eight-ball this season, its 80 concessions ranking far and away the most in the USL Championship, 12 more than the next closest club (NY Red Bulls II). How porous has the ATL defense been? The squad has two goalkeepers amongst the league’s top 15 in saves – Vicente Reyes (7th, 72 saves) & Justin Garces (13th, 65 saves) – despite them playing in only 14 and 13 games, respectively. For an Indy Eleven side ranking last in shots across the Championship, Wednesday could provide a chance to let loose in the final third – as it did in a 2-1 win against Atlanta back on April 16, when the Boys in Blue took a season-high 21 shots.
LAST TIME OUT
Indy Eleven used a second half penalty kick conversion from Ayoze and a dominant defensive performance to capture a hard-fought 1-0 win Sunday night at IUPUI Carroll Stadium. The victory marked the Eleven’s fourth straight at Carroll Stadium across a successful last month in the Circle City.
The first half was a stingy affair, with only one of the teams’ eight combined shots forcing a save. The second half started much the same, but the Eleven’s first shot on goal in the 55th minute – a sidewinding effort from the penalty spot by Bryam Rebellon – sparked the Indy attack, which saw A.J. Cochran head a corner kick service just over the bar two minutes later.
In the 67th minute Ayoze earned a point to the spot by drawing a foul just inside the corner of the area, and the captain took the ensuing PK chance himself, wrong-footing Jacomen to easily finish inside the left post to give Indy the 1-0 advantage. Indy carried the better of the possession and chances through the rest of the night, and should have found an insurance goal through Wilfredo Rivera’s dipping effort in the 90th minute and Manuel Arteaga’s shot through traffic that was cleared off the line a minute later. That said, the Eleven also dodged a late bullet in the 93rd minute when Azaad Liadi’s back post header flashed just wide right of frame, allowing Indy to claim the full three points.
IND – Ayoze (penalty kick) 68’
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Tim Trilk; Robby Dambrot (Justin Ingram 58’), A.J. Cochran (Mechack Jerome 58’), Jesus Vazquez, Jared Timmer; Ayoze (captain) (Manuel Arteaga 71’), Sam Brown, Juan Tejada (Raul Aguilera 71’), Bryam Rebellon; Stefano Pinho, Solomon Asante (Wilfredo Rivera 80’)
IND substitutes: Hayden Vostal (GK), Ecris Revolorio
The Miami FC 2 : 2 Atlanta United 2
Saturday, Sept. 17 | Stats & Highlights
The visiting Five Stripes twice came back from deficits in the second half to take a point back north from Riccardo Silva Stadium after drawing playoff-bound Miami. Callum Chapman-Page put the home side up just before the half to give Miami momentum heading into the interval, but Darwin Matheus’ clinical finish in the 57th minute brought things back to square at 1-1.
Miami again took the lead through Kyle Murphy’s 10th goal of the season, his completion of a counterattack up the center channel putting the Floridians back up with 20 minutes remaining. However, Atlanta battled back once again in the 81st minute, when a corner kick service inside the six was errantly redirected by Miami’s Josh Perez for an own goal that drew the match even at twos. From there is was ATL UTD 2 goalkeeper Vicente Reyes stepping up with two huge saves in stoppage time to secure the road point.
Atlanta United 2 lineup (5-3-2): Vicente Reyes; Raimar, Orji Nelson Chukwuma, Noah Cobb, Bryce Washington (Efraim Morales 67’), Erik Centeno (Luke Brennan 77’); Tristan Trager, Toni Tiente, Nicolas Firmino; Jackson Conway (Andrew de Gannes 97+’), Darwin Matheus (Alan Carleton 67’)
USL Championship regular season: 3W-3L-3D (11 GF/13 GA)
USL Championship at home: 3W-1L-1D (6 GF/3 GA)
USL Championship on the road: 0W-2L-2D (5 GF/10 GA)
Indy Eleven’s 2-1 win at Carroll Stadium back on April 16 brought the all-time series against Atlanta United 2 to three’s in every column. In that match, Nicky Law’s 12th minute banger of a free kick was cancelled out by a Jackson Conway finish in the 68th minute, setting up some nervy moments until Aris Briggs’ 92nd minute tally gave the Boys in Blue their first win of the 2022 season and Mark Lowry Era in Indy.
However, Indiana’s Team is still looking for its first three-point result in the Peach State. The Eleven took two visits to Fifth Third Bank Field last season, starting with a 1-1 draw on July 7 and ending with a 6-2 defeat on August 8.
#ATLvIND FAMILIAR FACES:
While there are no players on Atlanta’s roster that have suited up for the Boys in Blue, defender A.J. Cochran will be a familiar face to opposing fans. Cochran played for Atlanta United 2 during the 2018 season, making 30 appearances for the club.
Atlanta defender/midfielder Aiden McFadden is no stranger to the Hoosier State, as he played collegiately in South Bend for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Atlanta’s David Mejia also bears a connection to new Eleven Head Coach Mark Lowry, as the two crossed paths while at Jacksonville Armada FC from 2016-17, when Lowry was helming the first and Mejia was in the club’s youth ranks.
ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW MANUEL ARTEAGA
It’s the type of stat line that makes opposing forwards salivate – not only has Atlanta United 2 faced the most shots of any USL Championship side this season, their total of 597 is over 100 more than the next closest squad (Hartford’s 490).
While Indy Eleven has been at the bottom of the shots taken chart for most of the season – the Boys in Blue have 279 on the campaign – that’s partially because its most unshy shot taker in Arteaga has been on the injury report for a good third of the season. Despite the missed time, the Venezuelan volume shooter still ranks just two shots behind Stefano Pinho’s team-high 45, while his 21 shots on target indeed pace Indiana’s Team.
While you shouldn’t expect to see Arteaga getting starters’ minutes as he returns from his most recent knee injury, a bump from his 20 minutes on Sunday would be customary from Lowry. If so, you can expect Arteaga to make the most of his time – and make life miserable for the Five Stripes’ backline.