Match: Penn FC at Indy Eleven
Date: Saturday, June 30th
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Lucas Oil Field (Indianapolis, IN)
Refs: REF: Greg Dopka AR1: Art Arustamyan AR2: Ethan Buege 4TH: Calin Radosav
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Indy will look: Indy has been on a hot streak lately, topping ATL UTD 2 and Toronto FC II before they handed Nashville SC their first home loss on Tuesday night. Now they’re coming home for a three match home stand and they’re looking to solidify their position in the USL Eastern Conference.
Sooney Saad, formerly of Sporting Kansas City, was getting most of the goal scoring attention for Indy at the beginning of the season as he managed to send in a few spectacular free kicks from long range. But the more dangerous goal scorer lately is Justin Braun who has scored three times in their last two games. And don’t forget about former Philadelphia Union (and Harrisburg City Islanders) player Jack McInerney. He’s always a threat, although he’s picked up more cards than goals so far this season.
How Penn FC will look: Don’t look now, but Penn FC is on a bit of a hot streak of their own. They just handed the Tampa Bay Rowdies their first regular season loss at Al Lang Stadium in nineteen matches. That game also marked their fourth consecutive multi-goal game. It’s the first time that they’ve achieved that feat since early in 2015.
The many NASL veterans on the roster should be quite familiar with playing against Indy, although they never played them at Lucas Oil Stadium before. And the fans in Indianapolis will also be happy to welcome back former Eleven players Marco Franco and Paulo Jr. Franco in particular was a fan favorite in Indy and he’s still number three in the Indy Eleven record books for most games played.
What to expect: Both of these teams find themselves playing some of their best soccer all season as they try to separate from the giant log jam in the middle of the Eastern Conference table. Indy Eleven sits in 4th place while Penn FC is just outside the playoff picture in 9th place. It seems like a big gap, but there’s only three points separating these two teams. Like I said, it’s a bit of a log jam.
Both teams will want to start out easy to avoid any big mistakes early. This should be a tight match up, so the final result may come down to one slip up or defensive mistake. Once both sides have settled in, they’ll each want to focus their attention on defending set pieces. Penn FC has scored plenty of goals off of corners this season, and as mentioned before Indy can always call on Saad to put a dangerous free kick on frame.
If Penn FC makes it to halftime at least level with Indy, they’ll be in good shape. Penn FC has shown themselves to be a solid second half squad during their recent run of success, so you should expect them to adjust well after Raoul Voss gives them a pep talk at halftime. In fact, since they’ve come from behind three times during their recent 3-0-1 run, it might not be too big of a problem if they’re even down a goal.
The biggest concern for Penn FC will be the field surface at Lucas Oil Stadium. Penn FC has not played their best when they’ve been on turf in 2018. The slight change in the way the ball behaves is just enough to throw off the player’s chemistry at times and it has made scoring from the run of play difficult for them on turf. With that in mind, they might want to double down on trying to score on any set piece opportunities they’re presented.
PREDICTION: I think this match won’t be as crazy as Penn FC’s last few outings. Indy will probably score first, but I think Penn FC uses their second half burst to equalize on the way to a 1-1 final score.