Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at Bethlehem Steel - #BSTvIND
Thursday, July 26, 2018 – 11:30 A.M. EST
Goodman Stadium – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Indy Eleven will face Bethlehem Steel FC on July 26 for the second time in the 2018 USL campaign. The “Boys in Blue” seek revenge after falling at home, 2-1, in the two side’s first meeting on May 19 in Indianapolis.
Indy Eleven (8W-7L-4D) currently sit at sixth in the Eastern Conference after a defeat on the road against Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 21. The Rowdies have maintained their good offensive form at home as they put three past the “Boys in Blue’s” defense last Saturday. The Rowdies scored twice in the first 19 minutes, grabbing a quick 2-0 lead. Indy forward Eugene Starikov pulled one back one minute later in the 20th minute continuing his recently impressive form. Tampa Bay sealed the victory in the 89th minute when midfielder Junior Flemmings scored his team’s third goal, bringing Indy Eleven’s away record to 4W-3L-2D. The match against Tampa Bay is the second of four straight road fixtures for Indy; Bethlehem Steel FC is the third followed by Louisville City FC as the fourth. Indy Eleven now has a 4W-3L-2D road record.
Bethlehem Steel FC (6W-8L-6D) is 12th in the Eastern Conference. Steel FC enters Week 20 after coming off a 2-1 loss on the road to New York Red Bulls II. NYRB II opened the scoring just before the half hour mark in the 28th minute. Steel FC midfielder Anthony Fontana scored his first goal of the season two minutes into first half stoppage time to level the game. Red Bulls II regained the lead in the 78th minute substitute forward Amando Moreno scored the winning goal with a curling shot past Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire. Bethlehem’s match against Red Bulls II was the last on the road before a two-game home stint. Steel FC aims to improve their 4W-1L-5D record when playing at Goodman Stadium, where they have scored 19 and conceded nine goals.
A “Boys in Blue” win could push the team back up to fifth in the Eastern Conference. Securing three points on the road will be crucial against Steel FC, as a loss could push “Indiana’s Team” out of playoff contention.
After spending small stint off the pitch, Indy Eleven defender Tyler Pasher is beginning to return to top form as he gradually finds more minutes. The Canadian international played his first full 90 minutes against Tampa Bay since returning from injury.
Pasher was responsible for creating two chances with his vicious runs down the Rowdies’ flanks. One run down the flank saw Pasher tear into Tampa’s 18-yard box and play a well-driven ball to forward Eugene Starikov for a goal. With Pasher returning to full fitness, expect the 24-year-old to continue to make driven runs down opposition flanks and add creativity into Indy Eleven’s offense.
Only two players on Bethlehem Steel FC’s roster have made 20 appearances this season. One of those players is midfielder Santi Moar, who leads the Steel FC offensive charge. The 24-year-old currently leads the team in assists with six and has netted three goals himself, one of which came against Indy Eleven on May 19.
Moar can be most easily recognized by his blonde hair, along with his flair and creativity on the ball. His quick footwork allows him to navigate through small spaces and play key passes to free up teammates, just as he did against New York Red Bulls II. The Spaniard played a pass that split three Red Bulls II defenders and freed Anthony Fontana to score his first goal of the season. Moar will aim to repeat that form against Indy Eleven and cause the “Boys in Blue” trouble in the midfield.
In the first meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bethlehem Steel FC defeated Indy Eleven, 2-1. The victory was the first on the road for Steel FC in the 2018 USL season. Now in the second meeting, the “Boys in Blue” will face Steel FC on the road, where the opponent’s home form has been an integral part to their success this season.
Steel FC’s home record currently sits at 4W-1L-5D, totaling 17 of30 points for Bethlehem. Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke would rather see a few of those draws be wins, but the fact Bethlehem has only lost one home match thus far is impressive. The Pennsylvania based team has scored 19 goals and conceded nine in the 10 home matches played in 2018. Bethlehem has only recorded two clean sheets in the ten matches, but has averaged less than one goal conceded per game at home. Their goal scoring average is just below two goals per game, as well.
In order to claim three points in a tough road environment, the “Boys in Blue” will need to lace up their finishing boots. One area the team has excelled in is creating goal scoring chances. In the last match alone, “Indiana’s Team” created 10 chances. Most notably, midfielder Ben Speas, who played in the forward role against Tampa, created four chances.
The “Boys in Blue” will need to keep advancing forward into goal scoring positions and create chances in order to beat a strong home team. The continual creation of chances through the likes of Speas, Starikov and Pasher will pin Steel FC into their own half, where Rennie’s compact style of play will allow the “Boys in Blue” to create pressure and goal scoring opportunities.