Match: Penn FC vs Indy Eleven
Date: Wednesday, September 12th
Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)
Refs: REF: Ismir Pekmic AR1: Jay Hutchinson AR2: Szczepan Dziewa 4TH: Patrick Casey
How to Watch: ESPN + (Subscription Required)
How Indy will look: Indy has been cruising since the end of July and they’re sitting pretty as their season winds down. They’re unbeaten over the last nine matches and they’re coming off of an impressive 3-0 victory over NYRB II. Now they only have six matches left to play and a win over Penn FC on Wednesday would allow them to jump up into fourth place in the Eastern conference.
The recent run of success for Indy has been a team effort with several players making significant contributions. Ayoze continues to be their top defender while former City Islander Jack McInerney (who nailed the equalizing free kick against Penn FC back in June) has been their top scorer. But one player to watch is Eugene Starikov. He’s coming off of a brace against NYRB II, so he might be the hot hand right now.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC stumbled to start off The Homestretch when they fell to ATL UTD 2 on Saturday night. Now they could really use some points from Indy Eleven as these midweek games start to burn through their games in hand.
But there’s a lot working against Penn FC for Wednesday. Lucky Mkosana is still missing due to international duty and Aaron Dennis and Jorge Rivera will be just coming back. In addition, Jake Bond and Ken Tribbett will be missing on defense due to yellow card accumulation. With these holes on offense and defense, Penn FC will need to see an impact from former Indy Eleven players Marco Franco and Paulo Jr. in order to succeed.
What to Expect: The outcome of Wednesday’s match is going to be heavily influenced by an unusual outside factor, the weather. Harrisburg has been particularly soggy the last few days (just look at the Susquehanna River right now) and the field is likely to be saturated. To make matters worse, there’s more rain in the forecast for tomorrow. So there’s a good chance that things will get messy.
With that in mind, both teams will be looking to score by springing counters based off of any bad passes or defensive errors. Another option would be for teams to let fly with shots from outside the box and hope the wet weather leads goalkeepers being unable to handle a slippery ball or two. Both of these styles favor Indy with McInerney being a prime long distance shooter. Penn FC has Aaron Dennis for those sorts of shots, so they’ll hope that he will be available.
If the rain really does come on Wednesday, then that may provide a bit of extra home field advantage for Penn FC. Indy Eleven is the closest thing to a “dome team” in the USL and they’ve played their last three matches indoors and on turf. Their stamina may run down more easily as they have to put up with ninety minutes of playing on wet grass instead. So Penn FC may want to save their best for last and push for goals in the final ten minutes.
PREDICTION: Indy should be able to take care of business on Wednesday, but the outside factors might be enough to make this match sloppy and turn things into a toss up. I think that the final score will be 1-1 with at least one of the goals coming due to an ugly error.