Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview Indy Eleven at Tampa Bay Rowdies - #TBRvIND
Saturday, July 21, 2018 – 7:30 P.M. EST
Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, Florida
* Local/National TV: MyINDY23
* Streaming Video: ESPN+ ($)
* In-game updates: Follow @IndyElevenLive on Twitter
* Official stats: USL Match Center
Indy Eleven travel to Florida as they take on Tampa Bay Rowdies in St. Petersburg on July 21. The meeting between both teams will be the first since Indy’s 2-3 away win on October 19, 2016.
Indy Eleven (8W-6L-4D) currently sit at sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points after the “Boys in Blue” fell to Charleston Battery, 2-1, on the road in Week 18. Forward Eugene Starikov found the back of the net for the first time since signing with Indy earlier this year. Midfielder Ben Speas played a through ball that freed Starikov, who finished the play with a chip into the back of the net. The loss at Charleston is only the second loss on the road for “Indiana’s Team” in 2018. The “Boys in Blue” have allowed seven goals in eight matches and scored nine away from home in 2018.
Tampa Bay Rowdies (6W-8L-4D) now reside in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 22 points. FC Cincinnati handed Tampa their sixth loss on the road and eighth of the season, downing the St. Petersburg side in a 2-0 defeat in Week 18. Tampa Bay forward and leading goal scorer Georgi Hristov was unable to locate the back of the net during his 13 minutes on the pitch as a substitute. The two goals allowed against Cincinnati bring Rowdies goalkeeper Cody Mizell to 14 goals conceded this season, nine of which came in the past five games. Tampa Bay has allowed and scored 26 goals as a team in 2018 play.
A victory for head coach Martin Rennie and the “Boys in Blue” would push the all-time record against Tampa Bay Rowdies to 3W-6D-1L. Rennie will need the defense to continue to play compact and press the man in possession in order to stop the Tampa Bay offense that has scored 17 goals in nine matches at home.
Indy Eleven forward Eugene Starikov has only made eight appearances for the club since signing with the team in February. Yet in the last two games, Starikov has been able to make his presence felt by being involved in two of Indy’s three goals; He’s both assisted and scored.
In the match against Charlotte Independence on July 7, Starikov assisted midfielder Ben Speas when he climbed over a center back and nodded the ball down for Speas to strike. In the next match against Charleston Battery on July 11, Starikov showcased his finishing abilities after netting a cheeky chip to level the game. Starikov is finding form at the right time and will be needed against Tampa Bay’s home performance.
The only player to have started every game for Tampa Bay Rowdies is defender Hunter Gorskie. He leads the team in appearances, minutes, and every defensive statistic, except for goalkeeping. Gorskie managed three clearances and three blocks in the last match against FC Cincinnati, but was unable to keep the Blue and Orange from taking three points.
Gorskie has tallied the most of all defensive statistics, leading the Rowdies from the back. He’s totaled nearly 50 clearances, 34 interceptions, and lost only 6 of his 32 tackles in the 2018 campaign. The 27-year-old is in his second year with Tampa Bay after signing for the club in August 2017.
Tampa Bay Rowdies’ home record (4W-2L-3D) isn’t the most impressive in the Eastern Conference. However, Tampa Bay’s ability to score goals at home is what has helped the Rowdies collect points at Al Lang Stadium.
The Florida based team has registered 26 goals so far in 2018. Scoring at home has been one of the stronger abilities of this Tampa Bay side, averaging just under two goals a game. In nine home matches, Tampa Bay has found the back of the net 17 times. This average of just under two goals a game isn’t astounding, but has helped the Rowdies to claim 15 of 27 points at home.
In eight games on the road, the “Boys in Blue” have only allowed seven chances to get past Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams. The Welshman has also recorded five clean sheets on the road in the eight games. Two stout center backs man the box in front of him as well; Defenders Karl Ouimette and Carlyle Mitchell have been forces in the backline. The two have combined for nearly 200 clearances, 74 interceptions and averaged a 74 percent tackle success rate.
At the moment, the Tampa offense has appeared to slow down at home, having scored six in their last five matches. The “Boys in Blue” will aim to keep the Rowdies offense at bay by continuing the compact defensive style of play Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie has instilled in his squad.