This Friday, the Eleven move from their usual time slot of Saturday night to do battle with the first place Battery in Charleston.
Window of Opportunity
After losing to I-65 rivals Louisville FC on Saturday, the Eleven should see Friday night as a massive opportunity. They currently sit on the outside looking in on the playoff picture in 9th place. So a win would go a long way. Going into the conference leader’s stadium on an irregular night can be a daunting task, but this can be overcome if the Eleven adopt the underdog, nothing to lose attitude.
When looking at tactics you can expect Eleven manager, Mark Lowry, to play the typical strategy of a heavy underdog in a soccer match. Friday night we should see the Eleven sit back, absorb pressure, and look to hit on the counter. With the speed the Eleven possess on the wings, they should find moderate success. The only question is how long can the Eleven back line hold out against the Battery’s offense.
Public Enemy Number 1
The Battery striker, Augustine Williams, is currently tied for third in the USL in goals scored, with his current goal tally at seven. The Sierra Leonean strike is someone that is going to have to be marked for the full 90 minutes or the Eleven will pay the price. With his pace and composure in front of goal, Williams is the reason for a lot of sleepless nights among USL center backs.
The Achilles Heel
Just because the Charleston Battery stands atop the Eastern Conference, it doesn’t mean that they are perfect. If there is a weakness to be pointed at with the Battery it is their defense. Yes, they lead the Eastern Conference with 24 points, but they have a goal differential of only +2. So this does open the possibility of Mark Lowry playing a high press with his front two to take the fight to Charleston and control the game, but I don’t see that happening from the opening whistle. If I was forced to predict, I would say that the Eleven will start the game sitting deep and, if the flow of the game allows it and they are playing well, we may see the Eleven try to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
The Heroes We Need
So how do we exploit that weakness? The answer is simple, really; We need our front two to become ruthless killers on the pitch. Unfortunately, however, the Indy Eleven strikers have yet to find that killer instinct. The Indy Eleven offense has been torturously stagnant.
Altogether, the Indy Eleven have only scored nine goals in eleven games. Sometimes watching this team feels like a chore when you know it is unlikely you won’t have many goals to cheer for. When the team isn’t scoring the eyes turn to the team’s attackers.
The first one to look toward is Tejada. After putting up 13 goals for the Tampa Bay Rowdies last season, Tejada was traded to the Indy Eleven for Nicky Law. Since Nicky Law was beloved by the fanbase, Tejada came in facing a lot of pressure and he simply hasn’t delivered, only scoring one goal this season.
The other person to look toward is Solomon Asante, another attacker that the Eleven have recently acquired. Asante built quite the resume in the USL by scoring on a pretty regular basis. The fans were very excited by this acquisition so Asante faced pressure in his own right. He hasn’t delivered. He only scored one goal last season and has just one to his name this season
So will the Eleven be able to turn their offense around and stun the Eastern Conference leaders? I certainly hope so. But to find out, be sure to tune into ESPN+ this Friday night at 7:30 to see David take on Goliath.