The Indy Eleven (2-2-0) are undefeated through their first four matches and host FC Edmonton (2-1-2) on Saturday while riding a two game win streak. This team has earned results in dramatic fashion both at home and on the road during their 2016 campaign. That's not really what I want to see this weekend.
The Eddies come to town on the heels of their mid-week clash with the Jacksonville Armada. It's a tough road trip for them and a short turnaround to get prepared for Indy Eleven on Saturday. Edmonton earned their second win of the season with a 1-0 scoreline and they now have 3 total tallies through 5 games. Compare that to Indy's 5 goals in 4 games with 4 goals in the last 2 and you can start to picture a mathematical advantage building here.
For as much as they have celebrated and all the points they have earned, Indy has only had the lead for about 32 minutes so far this year. They are sitting in 4th place with 8 points but Indy trailed Ottawa for 33 minutes before equalizing in the 89th and they responded similarly after going down early in the 2nd half to New York Cosmos.
"Never be too happy with what you have. There is nothing wrong with trying to get more out of a situation and I still think we can get better defensively. We don't want to rest on our laurels." -Colin Falvey
Jair Reinoso scored early on the road in OKC so it is possible to get a lead, but to sustain it and to win in a convincing fashion is the next evolution. The schedule is currently favoring Indy Eleven. Facing a weary traveling team at Carroll Stadium is always a plus and facing a team that is struggling to score is even better.
I don't mean to say that Edmonton will roll over or that Indy Eleven are guaranteed victory. Simply, this is the moment for a team like this to really stake their claim on a Spring title run. What's different about this team is that they can do it. Some members of the squad have made no secret about the fact that they have title hopes. Central Defender Colin Falvey has a measured approach.
"We're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves on the results. We know the league is difficult, but we are going to try to keep this undefeated streak going as long as possible and hopefully get another big 3 points on Saturday which would put us in a really good spot going on to challenge and win the Spring Season."
FC Edmonton have to be doubting themselves. Two losses in the young season is hardly the start that the Canadians could have imagined. They did manage to steal points in Jacksonville, but they were behind on most of the stat sheets. There are some parallels that could be drawn and some similarities could be identified, but these teams are not the same.
"We don't accept defeat. We don't roll over easy. And forget what happened in the past. We are here to stamp our own authority on the club and bring some success. That's why the new guys were brought in. That's why some of the old guys have been kept." -Colin Falvey
Nemanja Vukovic is one of the new guys and he was the first to react when he scored the game-winner last weekend. That's not luck. It's awareness and heart. It's coaching. OKC let that ball drop in the box and Vuks was happy to punish the home side for their crappy turf and their lack of effort. Indy came into the match with an effective game plan and came away with 3 points. Team Captain Colin Falvey had good things to say about the team when I spoke to him this week.
"We've got to be happy. So far so good. If you look at the four games...I think we have only conceeded one goal from open play which you have to be quite happy with that."
The plan was to keep everything in front and Indy did well aside from a free kick and some unlucky giveaways. Steering back to this upcoming Saturday. Falvey only cares about one stat and that's the goals allowed average (GAA 0.75). He truly seems to ignore all others. 35% possession didn't concern him or faze him and it didn't appear to enter into his thinking. He does, however, thing about Edmonton and the match ahead.
"Edmonton are going to be a different animal. They're a very physical side."
I don't care how physical they are. Indy Eleven have one of the strongest defenses in the league and they are lead by the captain who leads by example and believes that defense is a lost art.
This should be a blood bath. Edmonton have no business hanging around and picking up garbage goals in the 2nd half. Eamon Zayed has ordered some additional custom bricks be prepped for the game and Brad Ring is the only minor health concern with an ankle sprain. Coach Hankinson has all of his toys in the chest and he will want to make use of them.
The gelling period is over and fitness shouldn't be an issue in week 6. To beat the reigning champion New York Cosmos was fantastic and its a step in the right direction, but beating a great team at home can be misleading. Beating a lesser team proves your rank at the top. There is no question that the Eleven are supposed to be better on paper and on the field.
This is exciting because its the first year where Indy has a must win, not to prove they aren't the worst, but to prove they belong with the best. This team wants to be taken seriously and that can only mean one thing. Win this game. Beat the Eddies. Take all 3 points.
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