Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs. North Carolina FC - #INDvNCFC
Saturday, June 17, 2017 – 7:30 P.M. EST
Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
NEW NAME, SAME RIVALS
“Indiana’s Team” returns home this Saturday to take on semi-familiar faces for the first time this year. North Carolina FC, formerly known as the Carolina Railhawks, will travel to “The Mike” for the first leg of two back-to-back matches against the “Boys in Blue”. Indy holds a 4W-2D-3L against Carolina, dating back to Indy’s inaugural 1-1 draw against the NASL veteran side in 2014. Indy’s most notable win, dubbed the “Miracle at ‘The Mike’” occurred against NCFC at the end of the 2016 Spring season. A hat trick from Indy’s star forward Eamon Zayed and a goal from striking partner Justin Braun sealed Indy’s first NASL Spring Championship title after overtaking New York Cosmos on goal differential.
Indy Eleven will continue its “Fight for Three” after a series of unfortunate results sees the 2016 Spring champions at the bottom of the table in 2017. A record of 0W-7D-4L places Indy as the only team without a win to their name and are currently the leaders for the greatest number of draws across all teams. Last time out, Indy fell 1-4 at home to Jacksonville Armada FC. Indy’s Eamon Zayed early equalizer gave a glimmer of hope of things to come before ultimately dropping three points at the end of the contest. Injuries have plagued the team for a vast majority of the season. Luckily, players such as Don Smart and Craig Henderson continue to find their health. With the full squad slowly returning with healthy legs, winning ways are just around the corner for the Eleven.
NCFC’s visit to Indianapolis will mark the third match the visitors have participated in this week. However, positive performances will be sure to replace tired legs with booming confidence. In Week 12, NCFC managed to save a point in a 2-2 draw on the road against the defending 2016 champs New York Cosmos. Goals from midfielder Lance Laing and forward Billy Schuler prior to halftime inched NCFC in the lead 2-1, but Cosmos won the equalizers in the 84th minute, stealing two points from the visitors. Later, NCFC fell 2-3 in added time against MLS side Houston Dynamo in the 4th round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. An early goal from defender Steven Miller and a post-half equalizer from Laing kept NCFC in the game, until a goal from Dynamo’s Jose Rodriguez in the 109th minute ended Carolina’s Open Cup run.
WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: FW EAMON ZAYED
Indy’s leading goal scoring forward Eamon Zayed returned to the scoresheet on Saturday. In his second appearance for Indy since coming off in injury, Zayed knocked the ball into the back of the net in the 10th minute against Jacksonville. With a taste for scoring, Zayed looks to replicate his magic against the visiting NCFC. Since signing for Indy in 2016, Zayed has scored four goals out of the last nine against Carolina. Three of Zayed’s four goals came at the end of the 2016 Spring season, when his hat trick against Carolina helped sealed Indy’s Spring Championship aspirations.
WHO TO WATCH NORTH CAROLINA FC EDITION: MF LANCE LAING
No stranger to the league, NCFC’s Lance Laing joins his new club for his 7th consecutive NASL season. Laing’s previous stints include time at former-NASL Minnesota United FC, FC Edmonton and now defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Furthermore, the Jamaican international represented his country on multiple occasions. Laing’s made his youth international debut between 2004 and 2005. Three years later, Laing made his Jamaican first team debut in a friendly 0-0 draw against El Salvador. In 2012, Laing earned a recall to the first team once again to help Jamaica prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Working to repeat his prior NASL successes, Laing has hit the ground running in 2017. The veteran midfielder has racked up five goals so far. However, the once top 2017 goal scorer has slipped into second place behind Indy Eleven alumni Zach Steinberger’s single goal lead. In addition to his goal scoring, Laing is headlining the assist chart with three assists alongside six other playmakers across the NASL, including our own Justin Braun. Laing’s ability to find the back of the net, as well teammates, makes him a priority target to shut down before getting into threatening territory.
MATCH-UP TO MARK: MF JASON PLUMHOFF VS. GK BRIAN SYLVESTRE
A battle between the posts awaits Indy midfielder Jason Plumhoff as the NASL veteran will work to find the gaps in Carolina’s keeper Brian Sylvestre’s goal.
Pluffhoff joined the Eleven after the start of the 2016 season. The German youth product was brought in to as a replacement for midfielders Ben Speas and Don Smart as they recovered from injuries they sustained early on. With his agility to run behind defenders and his pinpoint crossing, Plumhoff made for a natural replacement. In a demonstration of his talents, Plumhoff made his scoring debut against his former club FC Edmonton in Week 10. While Speas and Smart have made their return to the starting line-up, Plumhoff will continue to seek minutes, hungry to make his mark as an impact sub.
NCFC’s goaltender Brian Sylvestre will prove provide an adequate challenge for Plumhoff and company. Entering Week 13, Sylvestre is the current league-wide leader in saves by a large margin. Additionally, Sylvestre has collected several Team of the Week honors (Weeks 5, 6, 8 and 11) and was named NASL Player of the Week in Week 5. That being said, opponents that make it past NCFC’s defense essentially have another defensive line to work past in Sylvestre. Although, despite Sylvestre’s 50 saves, NCFC joins FC Edmonton at the bottom of the list of shutouts, with each team only recording one clean sheet. With a currently 1.35 GAA (goals against average), it’ll take creative solutions to sink a ball in the back of Sylvestre’s net.