#INDvBHM Gameday Preview
Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion FC
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium | Indianapolis, IN
Indy Eleven: 9W-2L-3D, 30 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference
Birmingham Legion FC: 3W-8L-4D, 13 pts., T-12th in Eastern Conference
Indy Eleven 1 : 0 Atlanta United 2 | Saturday, June 22
The Boys in Blue left it late last Saturday as an 84th minute goal from forward Alioune Diakhate handed the Boys in Blue their fourth victory at home in the 2019 USL Championship season. An assist from midfielder Tyler Pasher created an easy tap-in for the Senegal native at the back post. In his second start for Indiana’s Team, goalkeeper Jordan Farr ended his night with his first professional clean sheet. The victory extends Indy’s undefeated streak at home 15 games, dating back to July 7, 2018.
Birmingham Legion FC 2 : 2 Hartford Athletic | Saturday, June 22
Two equalizers from forwards Chandler Hoffman in the 31st minute and Mikey Lopez in the 52nd minute helped Birmingham Legion FC earn a point against Hartford Athletic last Saturday night. Birmingham snapped its four-game losing streak, having last earned a point against North Carolina FC on May 18 following a 0-0 draw.
Last Saturday’s home fixture against Atlanta United 2 marked Ayoze’s first appearance in the starting lineup since May 25, a 0-0 draw against Nashville SC. The 33-year-old’s impact was certainly felt in the match against Atlanta when, as per usual, Ayoze’s creativity and vision helped to create the game’s lone goal.
If the league recorded “hockey assists,” Ayoze would’ve certainly earned one in the 84th minute when he played a diagonal through ball with pinpoint accuracy to Tyler Pasher, who then squared across the face of goal for Diakhate’s game-winner. The pass was the Spaniard’s fourth chance created of the game and his 27th of the season.
Ayoze continues to be a key component in Indy Eleven’s playmaking efforts. In the last 829 minutes of regular season play, Ayoze has completed over 81 percent of his passes, tallied two assists and created 27 chances towards goal, trailing creative forward Thomas Enevoldsen by just four key passes. With numerous, unrecorded secondary assists in his pocket, Ayoze is a tactical threat for any opposing side on any given day on whichever flank he resides.
Forward Chandler Hoffman signed for his hometown club this past offseason after spending the last two seasons with USL Championship Western Conference’s Real Monarchs. The 2017 All-League First Team honoree has scored three goals in 14 appearances for Birmingham, currently tied with Prosper Kasim for Legion’s top goal scoring bragging rights. Though his production may be off to a slow start, Hoffman will be the man to watch in front of goal. Since entering the league in 2014, Hoffman has scored an average of 12 goals per season, including a career best 17 goals in 2017.
Hoffman’s most recent goal came in the form of a stunning left-footed, curling effort from 18 yards out against fellow expansion side Hartford Athletic last Saturday evening. The goal marked the first of two equalizers on the way to earning a point in the 2-2 draw against Hartford, Birmingham’s fourth draw of the season. Hoffman was unlucky to not tuck away at least a brace, as he placed five shots on target against the visitors. Indy’s backline will look to force the forward onto his right foot, taking away his stronger side and the source of his three goals.
There’s no denying the fact that Lucas Oil Stadium has become a fortress for the Boys in Blue. It’s a slogan that’s often preached by teams, but Indiana’s Team has turned the brick and steel stadium in the heart of the Circle City into an impenetrable wall via iron-clad defense.
At home, Indy has allowed just one goal in seven matches and recorded six of the team’s eight clean sheets, one of which came in the last match against Atlanta United 2. In total, the Boys in Blue have conceded nine goals through 14 USL Championship games, which sees the side tied with Eastern Conference leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies for least goals conceded across the league. Indy is also tied for second most USL Championship clean sheets and is the sole owner of the second-place spot in the Eastern Conference, again trailing only Tampa by three points – a gap that could be eliminated come 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Birmingham, despite only scoring 13 goals total through 15 games, have been streaky when playing on the road. The Yellowhammer State side (hence the hammers on the team’s crest) has recorded 10 of its 13 goals on the road with three multi-goal performances. In spite of the impressive road tally, the side hasn’t scored more than one goal on the road since May 4. Birmingham will look to get the offense flowing again, with the 13-goal haul tying the squad for the second lowest in the Eastern Conference.
It's a busy week ahead at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Boys in Blue, who will host 7:00 p.m. kickoffs Wednesday against Birmingham Legion FC (Pride Night) and Saturday versus regional rival and two-time defending USL Championship title-winner Louisville City FC. Tickets for both contests start at just $15 and are available at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.