Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at Saint Louis FC - #STLvIND
Saturday, March 9, 2019 – 2:00 P.M. EST
WTT Soccer Park Stadium – Fenton, MO
Indy Eleven will travel to Saint Louis to kick off the start of the 2019 USL Championship regular season on Saturday, March 9, at 2:00 p.m. EST. The meeting will be the first ever between the two sides in competitive play. The only previous meeting between both teams came in a 1-1 draw in a 2016 preseason friendly.
The Boys in Blue enter the regular season after finishing the preseason with a 1W-2L-1D record. Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie has been hard at work in the offseason, as he aims to improve upon last season’s seventh place finish in the Eastern Conference. His side features several returning key players such as defenders Karl Ouimette and Ayoze Garcia Perez; midfielders Matt Watson and Tyler Pasher; and forward Eugene Starikov. He’s also added depth in several positions. Former FC Cincinnati players Evan Newton, Paddy Barret, Kenney Walker and Tyler Gibson all aim to make their regular season debuts for Indy Eleven. In addition, 2018 USL Championship Golden Boot runner-up Thomas Enevoldsen and USL Championship all-time leading goal scorer Dane Kelly could make their regular season debuts for Indiana’s Team.
Saint Louis face Indy Eleven after ending their preseason with a 3W-0L-1D record. STLFC joins the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship after spending the 2018 season competing out west. The side qualified for the USL Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history after an eight-place finish in the Western Conference standings. The Conference quarterfinals were as far as the side were able to reach, though. Midfielder Kadeem Dacres and forward Kyle Greig return for their second consecutive season with Saint Louis after having a strong first year with the club. New signing Joaquin Rivas also joins the STLFC midfield after spending two seasons with Western Conference side Tulsa Roughnecks.
With the preseason now concluded and the regular season here, Coach Rennie looks to start the 2019 campaign on the front foot and get the season’s first three points away from home.
“For us at the beginning of the season, we have quite a few away games, so we want to get focused on doing a good job in those games,” Rennie said. “We’ll want to defend well and make sure we play with a lot of confidence. We want to build our team unity and spirit, and we want to continue to improve. I think going on the road in the beginning could be a good way to help us do that.”
Head Coach Martin Rennie made several impressive signings during the offseason. One of the most prevalent came in the signing of former FC Cincinnati midfielder Kenney Walker. Walker made 27 appearances for the former USL Championship side and notched three goals during the 2018 season. Walker’s technical ability and strong physique make his presence in the midfield felt by opponents.
The former LA Galaxy draft pick tallied 38 clearances and 41 interceptions last season. He brings a wealth of MLS experience, as he helped the Galaxy capture three MLS Cup Championships before heading back to the Buckeye State in 2015.
Forward Kyle Greig returns for his second season with Saint Louis FC. Greig made 31 appearances last season and found the back of the net 13 times. His ability to consistently find the back of the net was enough to lead Saint Louis in goal scoring during the 2018 campaign.
The 29-year-old was the club’s second highest goal scorer during the 2019 preseason. Greig scored two goals in four games for the Saints, trailing only midfielder Kadeem Dacres, who also returns for his second season with Saint Louis. Expect the forward to be in form come the regular season opener.
Indy Eleven midfielder Matt Watson bossed the midfield for the Boys in Blue during the 2018 season. Watson’s 13-year professional career provides him with a knowledge of the midfield few possess. Now, the Englishman will square off against Saint Louis FC’s newest midfield signing in Joaquin Rivers in the season opener.
Watson captained the midfield during the 2018 season for the Boys in Blue and will again throughout 2019. The 34-year-old’s experience in the midfield led to his election as captain, which Watson proved was the correct decision during 2018. Despite only netting one goal, the captain created five assists, racked up 44 interceptions and won nearly three-fourths of his tackles in the midfield. He also moved the ball well, 71 percent of his passes.
Rivas moved to the Missouri-based club after spending the last two seasons with Tulsa Roughnecks, where he made 61 appearances and scored 17 goals. The 26-year-old moved the ball efficiently through the Roughneck midfield in the 2018 season completing just below 80 percent of his passes. The native of El Salvador also has an eye for net, as he found the back of the net 12 times in 29 appearances in his last season in Tulsey Town. Rivas made his international debut for El Salvador National Team’s senior squad on November 16, 2018 in a CONCACAF Nations League qualifier and scored his first international goal days later in a friendly against Haiti. Rivas will be returning from international duty after being called up to participate in a friendly against Guatemala on Wednesday, March 6.
Slowing down the attack minded Rivas will fall on the shoulders of Watson, whose ability to read and close down passing lanes in the midfield will be vital to attaining the first three points of the season.