The Indy Eleven will host the Jacksonville Armada in just a matter of hours. Carroll Stadium will come alive again and the Armada should have no doubts about tonight's outcome once the Brickyard Battalion joins in. Jacksonville hasn't dropped anchor in Indy yet this year and their first time head coach, Tony Meola has never felt this kind of crowd as a sideline boss.
The Eleven will enter as the clearest of favorites. The Spring Champions have shutout all 3 of their visiting opponents in the early part of this Fall Season and Jacksonville have never won on the road...ever. Indy haven't lost at home all year and they have won their last 7 including a US Open Cup victory as well as friendly against the Mexican champions Pachuca.
Tony Meola and his squad have yet to find their sea legs and don't want to come to Indianapolis on a Wednesday. The landlocked capital offers no safe harbor for a team that has not scored an away goal since July 2nd and have been blanked over their last 4 matches. Ft Lauderdale were the the last ill-fated team to visit the crossroads at midweek and that game was over by the 30th minute.
Indy Eleven are averaging 2.12 goals per game while being spurred along by the West End during the 2016 campaign and they are recording an astonishing 2.6 gpg over their last 5 home contests. I know Meola's Linked In Profile is up to date, but the Armada could use some good boat insurance too. The leaks in their defense give up 1.5 goals a game during Fall.
This has the potential to be ugly and it should be. I am not the first to notice Indy's unsettling trend of playing down to lower opponents. That simply wont do tonight. This is a trap game and should be handled carefully as well as efficiently. Step on the throat of this match and set them adrift as soon as possible. These teams met earlier this year while in Florida and that match ended in a 1-1 draw. Not only did Jacksonville score first, but they broke their last scoring drought in the face of the Eleven.
It seems that Indy are almost back to full health and that is great news for a team with a quick turnaround and another home fixture on Saturday against Ottawa. Team captain Colin Falvey has been participating in training. He was on the roster last weekend and reports indicate he might see his first minutes of Fall. One of the leagues top defenses only gets better with his return although Corey Miller has filled in admirably.
I don't think there are any real question marks regarding the lineup. Jon Busch will reclaim his place between the posts, but perhaps we see Omar Gordon on a short leash. Don Smart is a worthy replacement waiting in the wings and his influence was felt immediately upon his arrival in Miami last Saturday.
1-0 will not do it for me or the land lovin' Eleven. 3 points will not be enough on their own. I want everyone to leave this game healthy and eligible for the next match, but a statement win would be something to make up for so many missed opportunities in the sunshine state.
The game kicks off at 7:30pm and tickets are still available.