Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs FC Edmonton
Saturday, November 5, 2016 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Carroll Stadium - Indianapolis, IN
FC Edmonton: â€‹
Media Game Notes:
Last Time Out – Rayo OKC 2 : 1 Indy Eleven
The regular season finale was an exciting one for Indy Eleven as they traveled west to face Rayo OKC at Miller Stadium.
With both teams having already secured a spot in the postseason, the game provided an opportunity for both sides to get a run out and move their legs as they each fought for a final set of three points. In the opening five minutes, OKC had opportunities in front of Keith Cardona's goal but saw two efforts blocked by the Eleven back line. The closest Indiana's Team came in the opening half was on a rifled shot by winger Omar Gordon, which was well-saved by Rayo 'keeper Bryan Byars. Despite the chances, the score remained all square at 0-0 through the first half.
The second half was a more exciting affair with a penalty given to Indy just five minutes after play resumed. Indy's Duke Lacroix cut inside the box and attempted to lift a cross towards a teammate sprinting towards the net, but OKC midfielder Yuma blocked it with his arm to concede the penalty. Indy's Nicki Paterson would step up on duty and bury it to give the "Boys in Blue" the lead. After battling back, Rayo would eventually equalize in the 61st minute through the feet of Sebastian Velasquez on a Marvin Chavez cross to make it 1-1. As the sides struggled to break each other down, Rayo won a corner just five minutes before full-time, and defender Moises Hernandez headed the hosts in front for good.
Neither side's standing in either the Fall or Combined Seasons were affected by the result.
Last Time Out - Miami FC 0 : 1 FC Edmonton
The Eddies were in a similar situation as Indy Eleven in that they secured postseason play ahead of the regular season finale, and Miami FC had placed themselves out of the running with Rayo OKC's win the week prior leaving nothing but pride on the line.
After a scoreless first half with little chances between the two, Miami FC were on the forefront and on the attack as they looked for three more points at FIU Stadium. In the 55th minute, it looked as if Miami FC forward Jaime Chavez would break the deadlock, but instead his effort richocheted off the post with no follow up in play. However, just ten minutes later, teammate Ariel Martinez opened the scoring on a pass by midfielder Blake Smith for the lone goal of the game.
Despite the loss, FC Edmonton's standing was unaffected and left them in third. The win also kept Miami FC in fifth place in the Fall Season but saw them move into seventh place in the Combined Season table.
The 2016 campaign for Indy Eleven has been a success regardless of whether or not they are able to push on to The Championship final against one of New York or Rayo OKC. But ask any one of the "Boys in Blue" if they are ready to wrap up the year on Saturday and they'll tell you kindly... Not a chance.
After securing a postseason slot in June by winning the Spring Season, it would have been all too easy for Indiana's Team to sit back, take points as they come, and wait for these November clashes. Instead, they maintained both momentum and consistency in forging ahead through the Fall Season and are coming into the match as one of the league's hottest teams.
Bound by a system of togetherness, Indy Eleven has their biggest test of the season on Saturday with a trip to The Championship final on the line. If they are successful, there's a chance they return to "The Mike" the next week for the Soccer Bowl. Either way, it's a match-up you won't want to miss.
Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed
Indy Eleven's leading goalscorer Eamon Zayed will be at the center of the action on Saturday as he looks to build on a successful campaign that saw him score 15 league goals in just over 30 appearances. After scoring in a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico FC during the regular season home finale just two weeks ago, the Libyan international will be looking to keep momentum running against the league's best regular season defensive side in FC Edmonton.
Though they met three times in 2016, Zayed only scored once against the Eddies - a goal which came in a 2-1 loss on the road back at the beginning of October. However, with a knack for scoring at Carroll Stadium, the forward's push for more will be a key factor in whether or not Indy Eleven is able to advance to The Championship final.
Who to Watch, FC Edmonton edition: GK Matt VanOekel
Statistically the best 'keeper in the league in the regular season, VanOekel has been behind a backline that allowed just 16 goals in his 29 appearances. Making 95 saves over that span, a figure which places him second in the league in the category, the 'netminders shot-stopping ability is well-documented and will likely be put to the test on Saturday afternoon.
In the three games he faced Indy Eleven, he allowed just three goals during a 1-1 draw in May, a 1-0 loss in July, and a 2-1 win in October, but with tomorrow's occasion ramping up the stakes, he will have to be at his best in order to secure the victory.
Match-up to Mark: MF Dylan Mares vs. MF Nikolas Ledgerwood
The 2016 season has been special for Dylan Mares, with the midfielder produces unprecedented numbers on the stat sheet. With five goals and six assists in 28 appearances, the Indiana University product has contributed even more than what the figures show. With a goal against Puerto Rico FC at Carroll Stadium to cap off the regular season, Mares is coming into this game in fine form and realizes that the importance of a match like this will only further his need to contribute.
Part of the group standing in his way will be FC Edmonton midfielder Nikolas Ledgerwood, who has featured in 29 games for the Eddies this year. Sitting deep as a defensive midfielder, the Canadian will be charged with limiting the impact of a trio of Mares, Ubiparipovic, and Smart as the cut inside, while also helping cover forwards Eamon Zayed and Justin Braun as they attempt to break through the backline. For a team with a solid reputation of limiting chances, Ledgerwood will have his work cut out for him tomorrow in The Championship semifinal.