WHO: St. Louis FC
WHEN: Tonight, 8:30p ET / 7:30p CT (local)
WHERE: Arad McCutcheon Stadium – University of Evansville
TICKETS: $5, available at McCutcheon Stadium gate only
FOLLOW: @IndyElevenLive / @IndyEleven / IndyEleven social media
Still wrestling with preseason injuries, the Indy Eleven travel to the southern tip of the Hoosier State for an I-70 showdown with St. Louis FC of the USL. Following a 1-1 draw where the “Boys in Blue” hammered home a late equalizer thanks to the head of Eamon Zayed, injuries remain the biggest factor heading into the final four games of the preseason schedule.
Zayed, who has tallied multiple goals so far this preseason, remained upbeat and stressed the importance of moving forward as a team under the guidance of head coach Tim Hankinson.
“We do have a few injuries, and that does force people to play 90 minutes, but personally I wanted to play the 90 minutes. I need the minutes because my season in Malaysia ended in September, so I’ve had a longer period of time out of competitive games probably than most. So, I wanted to the 90 and especially on turf because I’m used to grass so the more minutes I can get on turf the better so my body can adjust,” said Zayed.
Tonight’s game at U of E’s Arad McCutcheon Stadium, however, is played on a grass surface – just another adjustment for Zayed and the team.
“I’m not going to focus at all on the negatives. What I took from the first game is: 1) fitness 2) our nature to come back in games, which will be vital for the season ahead, and it’s another game that shows a few things to the coach that we need to work on from a positive standpoint.”
Though Zayed has been one of a few standouts thus far in preseason for “Indiana’s Team,” the Libyan national still sees a lot of potential in those who have yet to be available, singing particular praises of new midfielder Nicki Paterson.
“Hopefully [the injuries] will clear up and we’ll have a few different lads back for Wednesday because some of the lads who are injured are key players for us. You look at someone like Nicki Paterson in midfield, who will be vital for us this season I feel, and the quicker someone like him gets back, the better.
“But, it’s preseason. It happens. We had a hard eight days in Arizona and you’re always going to get one or two injuries. I’m looking forward to Wednesday and getting whatever it is – 60 or 90 minutes.”
Though the Eleven have a matchup against Louisville City FC in Indianapolis looming on Saturday, coach Tim Hankinson remains fully focused on tonight’s opponents and emphasizes the importance of the healthy group coming together in a tough stretch.
“Well obviously in Arizona we had a full, healthy group and we were able to split the squad to build up the legs so the guys were only having to put in 45 minutes at a time. But, because of some of the injuries that we picked up, we only have a few substitutes. We’ll be watching and measuring how a few guys hold up throughout 90 minutes.”
Tonight’s opponents out of St. Louis also played on Saturday and will be fresh off a scoreless draw with fellow-USL competitors the OKC Energy. While the Missouri club will be traveling to Indiana for the friendly, it won’t be a site unfamiliar to all, as Patrick Doody and Jacob Bushue return to the Hoosier state as former Indiana Hoosiers, as does Notre Dame grad Vince Cicciarelli. Additionally, former Indiana Hoosier and inaugural season performer Mike Ambersley will square off against his former club for a second time. Indy Eleven took a 2-0 victory in preseason play last March in the Gateway City on the strength of goals by midfielder Dylan Mares and then trialist forward Duke Lacroix.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm local time with $5 tickets available at the gate.