May 12, 2017 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - Indy Eleven
"Indiana's Team" returns to the Sunshine State for the second consecutive away match, this time to face-off against Miami FC for the first time in the 2017 season. The return to Florida marks the second time Indy Eleven has taken opposition leading the pack on the road; Miami FC overtook Jacksonville Armada FC for the number one spot in the standings after Miami defeated Puerto Rico FC 2-1 away in the Bayamon area last Saturday.
The "Boys in Blue" continue to look for their first win after entering Week 8 with six consecutive draws. Indy Eleven remains one of the highest-scoring teams in the league with six goals and a goal conversion rate of 14-percent but continues to fight against injury woes to end their winless stalemate.
Miami FC enters Week 8 with a mixed 3W-2D-1L record in 2017, having scored an average of one-and-a-half goals in each game aside from the Floridians' 2-0 loss at home to the New York Cosmos in Week 3. After last Saturday's win, Miami surged to the top of the list in team scoring with a total of nine goals for the season. The South Beach side also took over the top of the total shots list with 98 shots taken, nearly 25 more than the second-placed team on the list.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson focuses on Miami's tactics and what opportunities the players need to seek.
"We know that [Miami FC] play a diamond in the midfield with two strikers. They push their wingbacks very high," said Hankinson. "There are a lot of dynamics that are different from the teams we've played, but we've played a diamond before. We know the strengths and weaknesses of it, and those are the kind of things we've made aware to our players to find advantages."
WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: DF DANIEL KELLER
Indy's Daniel Keller made headlines for collecting Team of the Week honors after his Week 7 performance against FC Edmonton at home. Keller found his fourth start of the season after injuries continued to plague the regular backline starters.
The former University of Louisville captain has stepped up to the role presented to him and has tallied 378 minutes on the pitch so far, just 24 minutes shy of his total playtime in the whole of the 2016 campaign. Keller's stats are also on the rise with the defender racking up 20 clearances, eight interceptions, completing nearly three-fourths of his passes, and winning 90-percent of his tackles. The Indiana native is becoming a formidable, versatile asset in place of key starting players.
WHO TO WATCH MIAMI FC EDITION: MF DYLAN MARES
Ex-Indy "original" Dylan Mares will face his former club this Saturday after signing with Miami FC in the offseason. Mares' move to Miami has added a strong attacking element to their starting midfield, with the former Eleven star leading the league in chances created (18) while contributing 10 of the club's 98 shots in his six starts. A Zionsville High School standout, Mares has also completed close to 90-percent of his passes and has tallied both a goal and an assist, further proving his awareness.
MATCH-UP TO MARK: DF COLIN FALVEY vs. FW JAIME CHAVEZ
Returning to the starting line-up in Week 3, Indy Eleven defender and skipper Colin Falvey looks to continue to fortify his backline against the attacking efforts of Miami FC's Jaime Chavez.
The Irishman signed for Indy Eleven in 2016, bringing with him 16 years of professional play and leadership. The one-time Ottawa Fury FC defender started in all 25 regular and postseason appearances for Indy last season, playing a total of 2266 minutes. Falvey finds himself with eight clearances, 11 interceptions, and an aerial duel win rate of 78-percent since his return to the XI four matches ago.
California native Jaime Chavez joins Miami FC for his second season after transferring from now-defunct Atlanta Silverbacks in 2016. Chavez found his footing during his time with USL PDL's Hollywood Hitmen, leading the club in scoring for two seasons before making his NASL debut for Atlanta in 2014. The Week 7 Team of the Week honoree scored Miami's winning goal against Puerto Rico FC in the 94th minute. The tally marked his sixth goal for the club and brought the team to the top of the table.
Much like Mares, Chavez has demonstrated his precision by completing over 80-percent of his passes in 244 minutes on the field. However, the forward has struggled to retain the ball, losing 13 of 24 duels - seven aerial - and half of his tackles, making him susceptible to a strong Indy defensive line.