Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - #INDvTBR
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
After a productive month on the road, the Boys in Blue return to Indianapolis for an action-packed home stand through May (June 1, to be exact) that will feature six games in 32 days, including the club’s second round entrance into the prestigious Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Since “This is May” in Indy, we are obligated to mention that the green flag flies for the Eleven’s busy month on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, marking the team’s first home game in what feels like an eternity (but really, it’s just been a month).
Indy Eleven (4W-2L-0D) returns home after a 2-1 loss to New York Red Bulls II on Sunday that snapped its four-game winning streak, which began with a 1-0 win at home against Hartford Athletic on March 30 and finished against Bethlehem Steel FC in a 3-0 win on April 20. Despite a six-save performance from goalkeeper Evan Newton and a goal from the blazing Dane Kelly, Indiana’s Team lost for the first time since the season opener to Saint Louis FC. Head Coach Martin Rennie looks to begin a new streak against a Rowdies side he faced twice last season. The first meeting resulted in a loss (3-1) on the road and the second a victory (2-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the two teams meet on Wednesday.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies (4W-0L-4D) remain the Eastern Conference’s lone undefeated side, a statistic we hope to change, following a 1-1 draw at home against Charlotte Independence on Saturday. A goal from forward and captain Sebastian Guenzatti leveled the score in the 17th minute and was the last action the back of the net would see for the rest of the evening. The goal by the skipper Guenzatti was his fifth of the season in eight appearances for Tampa Bay, making the forward the Rowdies’ leading goal scorer – and tied for third on the East’s scoring chart. Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy conceded his fourth goal in eight appearances in the stalemate, but remains the ‘keeper with the lowest amount of goals allowed in the Championship. In addition to the low concession rate, the Rowdies are also one of five USL Championship teams with four clean sheets after their first eight games.
As a speeding Indy offense takes on a stout Tampa defense, the meeting has the potential to be an 11-on-11 tug of war with each team allowing the other little space.
Midfielder Tyler Pasher has racked up half the number of appearances through the last five games as he made in the entirety of 2018. The pacey winger was stonewalled by injury issues last season, allowing the Canadian only 10 chances to show his worth, but his recent form marks the start of a new era for the 25-year-old.
As a matter of fact, Pasher has already equaled his 2018 goal scoring tally after netting against Bethlehem Steel FC in Week 7. The break-away goal saw Pasher use his impressive pace (seriously, go watch him run) to pass a Steel defender and round the ‘keeper before tucking home his first goal since April 7, 2018. Rennie’s new system allows Pasher to thrive along the wing and apply high pressure in the attacking third, playing into his strengths. Watch Pasher tear down the flanks come Wednesday night, that is if you can track him (for real, he’s like The Flash).
Tampa Bay Rowdies midfielder Zach Steinberger will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since August 22, 2018, where he sat on the Boys in Blue’s bench in a game against Toronto FC II before being loaned to North Carolina FC three days later.
Before his departure from the Circle City, the Butler University graduate made 17 appearances and scored a single goal in his second stint with Indiana’s Team. Now, he resides in Tampa Bay with the Rowdies, where he’s scored one goal – a rocket in the home opener – in six appearances. The 26-year-old moves the ball well through the midfield, with around 81 percent of his passes finding their mark in 2018 and 79 percent through his six appearances in 2019, including five key passes.
The most challenging part of the beautiful game is scoring goals … unless you’re all-time USL leading goal scorer and Indy forward Dane Kelly or Tampa Bay forward Sebastian Guenzatti. The striking pair have an almost identical scoring record through the first nine weeks of USL Championship play.
Kelly is currently the forward in form for Indiana’s Team, as the Jamaican has scored four goals in his last three games. The USL Championship all-time leading goal scorer brought his league total to 71 in Sunday night’s fixture against New York Red Bulls II. Before the goal against New York, the 28-year-old netted once against Bethlehem Steel FC and twice against Swope Park Rangers the week prior. He’ll be looking to beat Tampa Bay’s last line of defense in ‘keeper John McCarthy, who along with racking up an impressive 0.50 GAA and four shutouts also ranks second in saves in the Eastern Conference with 22 stops.
Kelly’s counterpart had cooled off a bit before netting against Charlotte Independence in Tampa’s most recent fixture, Guenzatti being left off the scoresheet since a brace against Hartford Athletic on April 6. The Uruguayan forward currently has five goals in eight appearances for the club, three of which have come in the month of April despite the scoreless three weeks before Charlotte. Indy’s back line will need to force the 27-year-old onto his weaker foot, seeing as four of the last five goals have come from his stronger right foot inside the opposition’s 18-yard box. However, one member of the Eleven defense will have intimate knowledge of Guenzatti’s tendencies, as Ayoze Garcia was a teammate of his from 2013-2016 with the New York Cosmos.
Indy Eleven finally returns home to Lucas Oil Stadium this week for a pair of games against old rivals that sit near the top of the Eastern Conference table. The doubleheader week starts this Wednesday, May 1, against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and continues Saturday, May 4, on “Brad Ring Night” against North Carolina FC, with both games kicking off at 7:00 p.m. – and airing live on WISH-TV. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.