Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at Atlanta United 2 - #ATLvIND
Saturday, August 25, 2018 – 7:00 P.M. EST
Coolray Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia
* Local/National TV: N/A
* Streaming Video: ESPN+ ($)
Indy Eleven face Atlanta United 2 for the second time in 2018 on the road this Saturday, August 25. The match is set to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The previous meeting took place in Week 13, where “Indiana’s Team” registered a 2-0 victory at home.
Indy Eleven (11W-7L-6D) remain at sixth in the Eastern Conference with 39 points after defeating Toronto FC II, 3-2. The victory against Toronto marks the third straight home win for the “Boys in Blue” and the first goal of the season for midfielder Dylan Mares, who re-signed with Indy on August 20. Midfielder Ben Speas opened the scoring and netted his third goal of 2018, all of which came in the last three home games. Forward Jack McInerney netted the second of the game and his seventh of the season. He remains the team’s leading goal scorer by three goals. The victory brings “Indiana’s Team” record to 3W-1L-1D in the last five home games. Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie’s offense continues to fire on all cylinders after last night’s tally brings Indy Eleven’s goal scoring total to nine in the last five outings.
Atlanta United 2 (3W-13L-7D) are currently one spot above Indy Elevens most recent opponent, last-place Toronto FC II, in 15th place with 16 points. Atlanta suffered a 5-1 drubbing in their first Week 24 fixture against Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati Wednesday evening. Atlanta defender Shawn Nicklaw scored Atlanta’s only goal, and his first goal of the season, in stunning fashion. Forward Jon Gallagher played a back pass to Nicklaw, who then unleashed a nearly 40-yard shot into the top right corner of the net. The loss moves Atlanta United 2’s record in the last five matches to 4L-1D. The team’s last win came on July 11, in a 2-1 victory against Bethlehem Steel FC at home.
Coach Martin Rennie will aim to improve his team’s recent away record of 3L-2D in the last five road fixtures. Atlanta United 2 will be a tough task at home, as all three of their wins have come when playing at Coolray Field. The MLS2 team has netted 15 goals and conceded 18 in 12 matches at home.
Indy Eleven midfielder Dylan Mares surely didn’t have the worst debut in the world in the Week 24 clash versus Toronto FC II. Mares laced up for “Indiana’s Team” for the first time since 2016, and netted a goal in the 58th minute that would win the match.
The 26-year-old picked up the ball near half field and began a run down the left flank. After carrying the ball 25-yards, Mares cut in on his right foot and struck a clean, powerful shot that found its way into the right corner of the net returning the lead to Indy Eleven. Mares added firepower in front of net and his technicality on the ball injected some creativity back in head coach Martin Rennie’s lineup.
An unfamiliar face found the back of the net in Atlanta United 2’s 5-1 defeat against FC Cincinnati in their first Week 24 fixture. Defender Shawn Nicklaw tucked home a wonder strike. Yet, the goal wouldn’t have happened if not for the visual awareness of forward Jon Gallagher.
Gallagher, who leads the team in scoring with six goals in 2018, received the ball at the top of FC Cincinnati’s 18-yard box. With nowhere to go in front of him, the 22-year-old Irishman played a release pass to Nicklaw which freed him for his strike. The assist is Gallagher’s second on the year, showing the young forward can both score and find space for teammates in front of net.
Indy Eleven’s offense has been finding the back of the net fairly regularly as of late. Nine goals in the last five games is a fairly stellar scoring track. In Week 24, the “Boys in Blue” will face Atlanta United 2 on the road, where Atlanta 2 has given up 18 goals in nine home games.
Indy Eleven forward Jack McInerney will look to exploit a defense that has allowed two goals conceded per home game. After some forward rotation by Coach Rennie and a fixture loaded schedule, McInerney is seeing playing time regularly and finding the back of the net consistently. He’s found the back of the net four times in August and recorded an assist to go along with it. His recent form has brought him as sole owner of Indy Eleven’s leading goal scorer for the season.
Averaging two goals conceded per home fixture can be tough on a team. Especially when some of the goals conceded feel like they shouldn’t have happened. For example, FC Cincinnati’s first goal in the previous game against Atlanta 2 was a deflection that found its way in the net. Defender A.J. Cochran has done his best to lead the backline despite defensive struggles. The 25-year-old leads his team in every defensive category this season. His ability to read passing lanes and intercept attempts to play players in stands out most for Cochran, as he recorded five interceptions against FC Cincinnati.
In order for McInerney to break through the backline of the Atlanta 2 defense, he’ll have to be fed in well as Cochran will be waiting to intercept lazy passes. Midfielders playing precise passes and freeing up McInerney will depend on his runs off the ball.