The sprint is done and the 32 game season is long underway.  Indy Eleven will head south again to face Miami FC on Saturday.  The first meeting was uneventful, but the Eleven packed up and headed home with their signature point while away.  A 0-0 draw doesn't hurt on the road, but it should be noted that the expansion side had a league worst record at the time of the first meeting.  A lot has changed for both teams since June 4th but this game will be a good snapshot to dissect performances and to evaluate the teams progress at the halfway point.  

Once again in first place in the combined standings, Indy is in a good place approaching the halfway line of the 2016 season.  While it is no secret that Indy's stout defense holds no matter what the terrain, Indy's offense has struggled to produce goals while away from the comforts of Carroll Stadium.  An away match at this point ought to be a good measuring stick for a team that has recorded 4 goals and has been shutout 4 times in 7 tries.  

Rarely do they miss out on points though.  Indy has a combined record of 7-7-1 during NASL action and the Indy Eleven are seemingly unstoppable in front of the Brickyard Battalion.  The last 3 wins were by shutout and Indy currently have the best Goals Allowed Average (0.6) in the Fall Season.  The team is in good form and have shown no signs of taking it easy as we cruise toward the postseason.  

Indy Eleven are sitting on 28 points through 15 games.  How far have we come since 2014?  Indy amassed a whopping 27 points during 27 matches in their inaugural campaign.  This team is significantly better with players on both the assist and goal scoring leader boards.  The club that put together 33 points last year has locked up a playoff spot for this year and is working on home field advantage throughout. 

Eamon Zayed leads the team in goals scored with 7 in NASL.  He is 1 behind Kleberson for the all-time club record, but He is tied if you consider his mark on the US Open Cup match back in June against Louisville City.  Zayed's 16 outings are rapidly approaching Kleb's 21 appearances so the race for 8 (and 9) gets more exciting with each upcoming match.  Zayed has zero away goals on the year which is interesting but that can't be all Big Z's fault and hopefully that changes at FIU Stadium.

Miami FC have made improvements in midfield with the addition of several overpaid acquisitions, but they have still conceded 7 goals in 4 games this Fall.  They gave up 3 to the New York Cosmos and 3 to the Carolina RailHawks.  Miami's lone win this Fall came against a Jacksonville squad that held Miami scoreless until stoppage time while playing with 10 men for the last 80 minutes. Blanking any team other than the Armada would be impressive, however, 1-0 against that sinking ship is not.     

Service is the real deficiency on the road.  Effective passes and crosses are what this team needs and that's what I will be looking for on Saturday.  It's how I will grade the teams performance.  Crosses, passes completed, and chances created are the stats I care about this weekend.  I spoke to Indy Eleven Head Coach Tim Hankinson not long ago and he clued me in on some of the metrics that he watches.  It was not just possession and it's not just shots on goal.  He's looking closely at completed crosses.  

"The only thing that has not improved to the level that we need it to...And this is the difference between not losing and going out and winning games...is our ability to cross the ball into an accurate or dangerous area." - Coach Tim Hankinson

My goal all season has been to paint the picture of how the team is really doing.  It's not to be negative or to bring people down.  I love this team and all that they have accomplished so far.  The bottom line is that no one knows the team better than the coach.  So if the coach is happy then I am happy, but if he is looking for more, then I will too.  

"You look at the statistics of the games where we have scored multiple goals that our crossing ratio is always 50% in the accurate area...and I would say one of the statistics we have noticed is that when we have 50% of our shots on frame we score multiple goals."-Hankinson

This is what coach is telling his players.  This is what he is asking for and what he is looking for.  After 15 games to date and it will be 16 come Saturday evening, I think we will have a good indication of where this team is with 16 to go before it's win or go home.  

"50% of possession.  50% of crosses in the accurate area.  50% of shots on target.  50-50-50 is to me what you have to shoot for every game.  that's a measuring stick for us that will dictate whether we are a multiple goal team going out and winning games or we are always in a tight one trying to steal points at the end." -Hank

Last time vs Miami FC -

42% Possession

0% Successful Crosses (0 of 16)

9% Shots On Target (1 of 15 excluding blocked shots)

Please take out your No. 2 pencils.  You will have 90 minutes to complete this test.  

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