9/3/21 US Ties El Salvador 0-0 plays Canada 8 pm Sun FS1, Indy 11 at home vs Atl United 2, Argentina vs Brazil + other huge WCQ Games Scheduled

 US Ties El Salvador 0-0

Well I said before the game that 1 point and a draw at El Salvador against a tough team in a really tough environment against a coach that knows the US so well would be fine.  So why did last night’s 0-0 tie feel so bad. Man today on the call in shows – everyone is destroying us.  Hey this is the 1st game of Qualifying on the road – in a very difficult place to win.  Overall I thought the US played fine – defensively even though I questioned the line-up Coach Berhalter put out there – I thought they held their own.  Matt Turner was fantastic in goal as always though he wasn’t really tested all that much.  It was 50 / 50 possession – which on the road is tough to do.  But lets not kid ourselves  – the difference in level of talent is pretty large – though the US talent is young – we have 12 players playing on Champions League Level teams – El Salvador has none.  El Salvador started a USL player tonight for heaven’s sake.  And while their coach Hugo Perez – a mainstay as a US as an assistant coach – had an excellent plan and definitely seemed quite prepared to play us – at the end of the day we have much better players who should have won this game.  It was great to see local boy done good defender Eriq Zavaleta of Westfield and IU almost score for El Salvador on a header in the 1st half.  I am hoping former ISA Futsal Director Carlos Zaveleta (his dad) was in a attendance. 

The US outshot El Salvador and should have scored on a multitude of header opportunities but they just couldn’t find the net.  El Salvador also had chances but their shots all seemed to miss the target as well – though Turner was forced into a couple of nice saves.  Overall I thought the product in the final 3rd was missing.  What’s new for the US eh?  I thought surprise starter Conrad actually looked dangerous up top on the left – but was surprised to see Aaronson at midfield rather than left wing – Aaronson looked out of spot most of the night until pushed into the left wing late.  Reyna looked fine and had a great stretch midway thru the half when he flipped to the left side – but he just missed on a few balls. Sargent was active as the #9 – but again couldn’t find the net for the 3rd straight game as a starter.  Pefuk  was better up top when he came on for the final 20 minutes I thought – and he should have scored on a header.  I thought Adams looked good in the Dmid slot but boy did he have to cover for Dest all night long at left back – as Dest got destroyed at times.  I really think Dest has to be used on the right – and only when he has a really fast center d partner like Miles Robinson with him.  Robinson was very good at right center back and paired just fine with Tim Ream – though the aging Ream looked suspect at times.  Can’t wait to see Robinson and Brooks together in the middle vs Canada.  Canada now becomes must win – you must win your games at home !!  Canada will be on edge as they tied Honduras at home.  In fact everyone tied except Mexico who got a late goal to secure a 2-1 win over Jamaica.  Here’s the line-up I would come out with vs Canada – but Coach Berhalter will probably come out with 3 center backs or something – who knows. 

Pefok

Pulisic/Reyna

Lletget/McKinney

Adams

Robinson/Brooks/Robinson/Dest

Turner

US GAMES

Sunday 8 pm                                   USA vs CANADA               FS 1

Wed, Sept 8 – 10 pm                      Honduras vs USA             CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

So here’s how we look after the first game. 

 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Standings

POSTEAMGPGDPTS
1Mexico1+13
2Honduras101
3Canada101
4Costa Rica101
5El Salvador101
6Panama101
7United States101
8Jamaica1-10

US Stats vs El Salvador

Sunday WCQ has multiple huge games

England vs Andorra somehow gets the noon ESPN2 slot – while the best games of the day the Swiss hosting Italy and Belgium vs the Czech Republic are both on ESPN+ Sunday at 2:45 pm.  3 pm has the best game of the Day as Brazil host Argentina on Fubo TV in a rematch of the COPA Final.  Of course the US host Canada at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 right after Costa Rica hosts Mexico in a pivotal match on CBS Sports Network at 7 pm.  (See the full schedule below)

Indy 11 Home Sat Night at the Mike vs Atlanta United  7 pm TV 8

The Indy 11 fresh off a shutout at home by Jordan Farr are one a roll with 2 straight home victories to make the move up to 5th place over – they play Atlanta United 2 this Saturday night with 4th place on the line.  Specials this weekend include $4 Beers and an $11 Beer and Dog special. 

Carmel Girls in Zionsville Tourney

The #2 ranked Carmel Girls will face the #1 team from Kentucky in the Zionsville Invitational tonight at 6 pm in Zionsville.  Head on out if you want to see some top ranked ladies soccer this weekend !

USA

ROSTER

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5),

Player Ratings – MLS.com
Berhalter unhappy with USMNT lack of ‘control’ in El Salvador draw

Player ratings: USMNT held in El Salvador, World Cup qualifying

3 Things We Learns vs El Salvador –
United States men’s national soccer team plays to scoreless draw vs. El Salvador in World Cup qualifying opener

USMNT’s 2022 World Cup Qualifier Squad Is Most Valuable Ever

 

A look back on a very busy transfer window for Americans. Who made the best moves?

Sonora, Reyna, Wright, & Fulham defenders highlight otherwise disappointing weekend for Yanks abroad

WORLD

EUFA WCQ Tables

England Rolls over Hungary

Sweden down Spain to gain upper hand in World Cup qualifying
Ronaldo’s record goal reminds us: No one does drama like Portugal’s captain
How Ronaldo broke goal record, plus EVERY scoring record he holds
  Chris Wrigh

Hollabd Scores to tie Netherlands 1-1

Canada player ratings: Richie Laryea, Alistair Johnston impress in WCQ draw vs. Honduras

Three takeaways from Canada’s World Cup Qualifying draw with Honduras

Grading every Premier League club’s summer transfer window\

Glory, glory! Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning return to Manchester United is a done deal
Ronaldo to wear Man Utd’s No.7 shirt

Indy 11

·      PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN VS. ATLANTA UNITED 2

·      PETER-LEE VASSELL TO REPRESENT JAMAICAN NATIONAL TEAM IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

·      INDY ELEVEN AND FORWARD JORDAN HAMILTON TERMINATE CONTRACT

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: INDY ELEVEN 2 : 0 REAL MONARCHS SLC

 GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Saturday, sept 4

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Ukraine vs France ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Montegro  ESPN+

7 pm              Indy 11 vs Atlanta United TV 8, ESPN+ @ the Mike

7:30 pm         Orlando City vs Columbus  ESPN+

Sunday, sept5

12 noon          England vs Andorra ESPN2 

12 noon          Iceland vs North Madcedonia ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Swiss vs Italy ESPN+

2:45 pm         Belgium vs Czech Republic ESPN+

3 pm               Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

7 pm               Costa Rica vs MEXICO CBS Sports Network, Universo

8 pm              USA vs CANADA   FS 1

Tuesday, Sept 7

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         France vs Finland ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Turkey  ESPN+

2:45 pm         Austria vs Scotland ESPN+

Wed, Sept 8

2:45 pm         England vs Poland ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Iceland vs Germany ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Italy vs Lithuania EPSN+

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm               Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served

 2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 0-0 El Salvador – a disjointed performance and an indecisive result

Eh, it’s a point on the road  By Parker Cleveland@AekprrAcdeellnv  Sep 2, 2021, 9:13pm PDT  S & S

The USA entered the first World Cup qualifier since… you know, we all remember. It was wet and rainy and Bruce Arena was there and it wasn’t fun. Geoff Cameron was watching and looked all mad/sad about it. Not a good time. My main memory for that game was thinking that I had to write the What We Learned article and how pointless that was. Luckily, the USMNT got good at soccer in the last four years and hopefully we won’t be re-living that fiasco.Still, the team would need to go on the road in front of an unfriendly crowd and do what they could to overcome Alex Roldan. One thing was sure, anything less than 8 points in qualifying this round wouldn’t be acceptable.If there was any question about how the USMNT would approach the game, that was answered as soon as the lineup came out and Konrad de la Fuente started alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in central midfield. That’s a decision that says, I’m not too concerned about responding to what El Salvador wants to do and am looking to dictate the game from Gregg Berhalter. Also, put some respect on Tim Ream’s name.Meanwhile, Hugo Perez sent a promising El Salvador side out in a 4-4-2 featuring Greg Vanney’s nephew and a roster whose most prominent players are in MLS or play in Holland. That said, Los cuzcatlecos were coming off of a respectable showing in the Gold Cup and the home town energy would surely provide a boost against the Stars and Stripes.

In what started as a tricky fixture for the USA, the team had a difficult time creating chances. That said, the team did effectively move the ball into the attacking third though the chances were lacking. Through the first 30 minutes, the best moments of the match were created by the camera man as it seemed like the production decisions were, in close? super wide? WHO CARES JUST CUT TO CAMERA 2.The game came to life at about the half hour mark as El Salvador began to grow more bold in their pressing and the US responded by pushing forward and finding seams in the El Salvador backline. A goalkeeping error by Matt Turner gave the team in blue a corner that created a shot that nearly floated into the USA goal. The Americans tried to do lots of flicks and fancy things but nothing really looked like it would threaten the El Salvador goal and the teams went into the half at 0-0.Given the struggles in the first half, the second began with the Stars and Stripes just basically doing what they did in the initial 45 but harder and a little faster. The result was more struggle, but this time harder and faster.A trio of subs came in for the USA as Antonee Robinson, Jordan Pefok, and Kellyn Acosta entered for Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, and Konrad.One change that did seem effective was Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson interchanging more with Reyna playing more on the left where the USA was having most of its success. That nearly paid off in the 72nd minute when GR7 floated a cross that Weston McKennie got a head to it but failed to put his shot into the net. Still, Reyna was the best player on the field and as the game wore on he continued to be the main outlet for the team as any team moves were just not coming together.Two more subs came in as Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget entered for Aaronson and Yedlin when the clock hit the 79th minute. While the new additions did provide a spark, the game still lacked the decisive moment and ended in a 0-0 draw.Not the best result, not the worst, neutral.

USMNT Opens World Cup Qualifying By Drawing El Salvador

AVI CREDITORThe U.S. men’s national team’s road to redemption, in the form of a 2022 World Cup berth, began with no goals and one point away from home.The U.S. had its chances but settled for a 0–0 draw vs. El Salvador Thursday night at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, where the first of 14 qualifying matches took place. Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta missed on close-range headers late, but save for set pieces, the U.S. defense was hardly troubled in securing the point, which puts the U.S. level with six other sides in the Concacaf table.Henry Martin’s late winner gave Mexico a 2–1 victory over Jamaica at a fan-less Estadio Azteca to put El Tri atop the table, but Canada-Honduras and Panama-Costa Rica also ended in draws on the opening night of the region’s qualifying tournament.After missing the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. is focused on getting back to the grand stage—even if this group is not dwelling on what transpired four years ago. Instead, a slew of young players led by a new coach are looking to ride the momentum of having won two Concacaf trophies this summer and climbing to 10th in FIFA’s world ranking. To keep that momentum going, they had to do so without two presumed starters, with Christian Pulisic (COVID-19, fitness) and Zack Steffen (back spasms) both unavailable for the match. They’ve remained in Nashville to train before the rest of the U.S. joins them Friday ahead of Sunday’s qualifier vs. Canada at Nissan Stadium. This three-match window concludes with a Sept. 8 trip to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras.Their absences weren’t the only notables in Gregg Berhalter’s starting lineup. Center back rock John Brooks was left on the bench, with veteran Tim Ream partnering with Gold Cup hero Miles Robinson in front of Matt Turner, who earned the start with Steffen out hurt. Brenden Aaronson and Konrad de la Fuente entered the XI as well, with Pulisic out and Sebastian Lletget among the substitutes. After a raucous set of national anthems, with a crowd appearing to be significantly greater than the 29,000 cap that was supposed to be set, and with nearby fireworks blaring for the opening few minutes, the U.S. had the first early chance. DeAndre Yedlin surged forward and found Gio Reyna, who broke into the box but fired into the side netting in the third minute.A couple of minutes later, Aaronson nearly benefited from a fortuitous deflection, with the ball looping just over the El Salvador crossbar.Three minutes later, the U.S. had a chance that was eerily reminiscent of the goal that won the Gold Cup. After Konrad earned a free kick, Reyna curled in a ball to the center of the box, where Robinson headed over the bar. It was Robinson who headed home Acosta’s service on a nearly identical play to clinch the extra-time win over Mexico on Aug. 1.El Salvador provided a scare of its own in the 16th minute. Off a corner kick, center back Ronald Rodriguez was the first to meet the service and headed just wide of the mark to keep things scoreless.El Salvador was gifted another set piece in the 33rd minute and nearly cashed in on it. With Turner taking his eye off the ball on his own endline and having it go out for a corner, Alex Roldan—whose brother and fellow Seattle Sounder, Cristian, began the night on the U.S. bench—shook Yedlin and deftly lifted a right-footed chance to the far post, not missing by much.With the first half coming to a close, the U.S. had another chance to open the scoring. Konrad did well to create space for a cross from the left, picking out McKennie in the El Salvador box. The Juventus midfielder headed down for Josh Sargent, whose bouncing volley from the edge of the box went wide right of the post.Set pieces continued to be El Salvador’s best shot at breaking through, and Eriq Zavaleta, Toronto FC’s Indiana-born center back, forced Turner into a diving save with his header off a corner kick, with the U.S. goalkeeper smothering it as he went down and to his left in the 57th minute.Berhalter went to his bench for the first time in the 64th minute, making a triple substitution (teams are allotted up to five subs, across three stoppages) by bringing Acosta, Antonee Robinson and Jordan Pefok in and taking Konrad, Sargent and Sergiño Dest off.The U.S. looked livelier after the changes, and in the 72nd minute nearly went ahead. Reyna followed his own blocked shot and carried down the left-hand side before lofting in a cross for McKennie, who timed his run well. He couldn’t get his header from the center of the box down accurately, though, and it trickled wide of the post.McKennie then played provider four minutes later on another close call. Pefok did well to keep possession and slip a pass through the Salvadoran defense, with McKennie running onto it and surging down the right-hand side. His cross picked out Acosta, whose leaping header was kept out by goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.Neither side threatened in the waning minutes, though, with both settling for the point that puts them in the middle of the pack with a long, albeit compressed, qualifying road ahead. 

Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT

Nicholas Mendola NBC Sports

They weren’t good.A United States men’s national team missing its best player and resting its best defender was not a good watch in a 0-0 draw with El Salvador in San Salvador to kick off its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run.Christian Pulisic missed the match as he seemingly rebuilds fitness following a COVID-19 positive test-induced layoff, and the Yanks were anything but clinical in front of goal.Heck, they barely got there.Next up is Canada in Nashville on Sunday before a trip to Honduras.

Three things we learned from El Salvador – USMNT

1. Welcome back to nerves, second-guessing, excitement: Look, we loved the victories at the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League — especially the latter — but is there anything like the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement that comes from World Cup qualification, especially an away match in front of a packed house? Unfortunately, the U.S. did very little to ease that anxiety with most of its starting lineup ineffective, but it sure was nice to open a fresh run of qualifiers.

 Being talented enough to get selected to start in a side’s first World Cup qualifier means there are gifts to be opened on the pitch, but also long periods of adjustment. It’s understandable that Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Brenden Aaronson would start, especially with Christian Pulisic injured, but we were left waiting for those gifts to arrive in San Salvador for most of the first hour. The kids needed further blooding but there’s a veteran front three out there (Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Sebastian Lletget in a full-health world) who delivers a halftime lead, perhaps by two.

3. Tyler Adams is very good: The youngest player to captain the United States men in a World Cup qualifier looked the part, almost always in the right position and barely putting a foot wrong when the ball found its way to him. Unfortunately, a midfield metronome isn’t a finisher.

Man of the Match: Tyler Adams

El Salvador – USMNT recap

The U.S. might’ve had it 1-0 with an unintentional chance when a low clearance bounded off Brenden Aaronson and over the bar.

Miles Robinson’s turn to put it over the frame when Gio Reyna swept a gorgeous free kick over the pack.

El Salvador forward Jairo Henriquez nodded just over the goal on one of their three corners in the first 15 minutes, but Sergino Dest bounced a shot to the home goalkeeper moments later.

The U.S. appeared anxious with the final ball in its best moments of the first half, Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie producing some magic but failing to spot a shooting opportunity and an incisive pass to Aaronson.

Alex Roldan came close to making it 1-0 for El Salvador off a corner conceded by a falling Matt Turner, as the home team’s best work came off set pieces and aggressive pressing in the U.S. half.

The best U.S. chance saw Konrad de la Fuente reclaim his blocked cross and sweep another one over the pack. McKennie nodded it to Sargent, but the Norwich City man’s side volley bid was wide of the wrong post.

De la Fuente led a terrific run early in the second half but laid off for Sargent to have a blocked shot rather than feed an open Reyna on his right. Matt Turner had

#INDvATL Gameday Preview  

Indy Eleven vs. Atlanta United 2

Saturday, September 4, 2021 – 7:00 P.M. ET  

IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Local/National TV: WISH-TV 8

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  

>Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM / exitos943.com

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers   

LIndy Eleven: 7W-8L-5D (-5 GD), 26 pts.; 5th in Central Division

Atlanta United 2: 6W-9L-7D (0 GD); 6th in Central Division

With all four inter-divisional games ticked off the schedule, it’s nothing but Central Division showdowns moving forward for Indy Eleven starting Saturday against Atlanta. Three weekends ago, ATL UTD 2 handed Indiana’s Team one of the worst defeats in the club’s USL Championship era, but there’s more important matters at hand than petty payback – as the calendar flips to a seminal seven-game September for the Boys in Blue, it’s now all about playoff positioning …

https://cdn4.sportngin.com/attachments/photo/9a82-163444986/Picture1_large.jpg

… and you can see why, as Indy Eleven remains tucked squarely in the middle of the Central table, currently just on the wrong side of the playoff line (with the caveat of having two games in hand on fourth place OKC). The Eleven begin the month with three of four at home before finishing out with a three-game road trip, making those contests at “The Mike” against Atlanta (Saturday), Sporting KC II (Sept. 11) and LouCity FC (Sept. 18) not “must-wins” … but, to paraphrase that famed sage Meatloaf, two outta three here wouldn’t be bad – and may just prove necessary to keep pace.The good news on that front? Indy has seemingly exorcised its demons at Carroll Stadium, collecting wins there the last two times out. The includes last Saturday, when forward Manuel Arteaga bagged his team-leading fifth & sixth goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Real Monarchs SLC. With Thursday’s mutually-agreed upon departure of fellow forward Jordan Hamilton, Arteaga is now the unquestioned talisman up top heading into the stretch drive. With that now abundantly clear, you can bet Interim Head Coach Max Rogers will further solidify the team’s high-pressure tactics that are heavily influenced by the Venezuelan’s endless energy at the point of the three-man frontline.Perhaps more important the last time out was the defensive effort, which included goalkeeper Jordan Farr making four saves en route to collecting the team’s first home clean sheet in eight outings dating back to a 2-0 win over SKC II on May 22. Center back A.J. Cochran spoke after the game about the team refocusing its efforts on securing shutouts at home and just making Carroll Stadium a tougher place to play for the opposition in general. Mission accomplished the last two games, but those were also against two of the weaker attacks in the league – it will have to emerge as an even larger emphasis against an Atlanta side whose 36 goals ranks fourth most across the entire Championship.Indy’s attack will be down another option temporarily after Peter-Lee Vassell reported to the Jamaican National Team early this week ahead of the Reggae Boyz’ trio of World Cup Qualifiers; he’ll miss the squad’s next two contests and should be available for selection next Saturday against SKC. Vassell’s presence should be offset by the continued return of winger Carl Haworth, whose 86th minute cameo against Real Monarchs marked the Canadian’s 2021 debut after recovering from a preseason leg injury.And make no mistake, ATL UTD 2 will look to “run and gun” its way to success on Saturday – and “2” looks to be their magic number. Atlanta has gone undefeated in the 10 games in which it’s scored at least twice (4W-0L-6D) but has registered a rough 2W-9L-1D record when scoring once or not at all. As impressive as Atlanta’s 36 goals scored have been, the same amount of concessions (fifth most in the Championship) have made an arguably bigger mark on their season, with the Georgia side sitting three games on the wrong side of the .500 mark.Three gaudy wins over FC Tulsa (5-0), Indy (6-2) and SKC (4-1) – the last two of which have come in recent weeks – have done wonders for Atlanta’s goal differential, and that could prove important if the standings remain as tight as they’ve been. However, heavy losses the last two weekends at Pittsburgh (1-4 L) and Tulsa (1-3 L) have tipped the “GD” scales back to even and moved Atlanta’s road record to 1W-7L-3D on the season, a trend that Indiana’s Team will look to continue Saturday as it tries to make “The Mike” a true fortress for the stretch drive.

 SERIES HISTORY VS. ATLANTA UNITED 2

USL Championship regular season: 2W-2L-2D (8 GF/10 GA)

USL Championship at home: 2W-0L-0D (3 GF/0 GA)

Deuces are wild for Indy Eleven & Atlanta United 2, with each holding a 2W-2L-2D record in their series heading into Saturday night’s clash at Carroll Stadium. Both meetings earlier this season were contested at Fifth Third Bank Field in suburban Keenesaw, Ga., where the teams dueled to a 1-1 draw on July 7 before ATL dominated from the jump in a 6-2 win on August 8. This year’s series will end back at “The Mike” on October 2.The only two previous matchups in the Circle City yielded wins for the Boys in Blue at Lucas Oil Stadium, captain Matt Watson notching an early game-winner in a 2-0 victory on June 9, 2018, followed by Alioune Diakhate’s 84th minute goal – his first and only with the Eleven – marking all the scoring in a 1-0 triumph on June 22, 2019.

 IND PLAYER TO WATCH: MF GERSHON KOFFIE

If the only thing you noticed about Koffie during his full 90 performance last Saturday were his back-to-back chances from the top of the 18 in second half stoppage time, we’re gonna take you to task a little bit. The Ghanaian was perhaps the most active player on the pitch, covering more ground than any of the Boys in Blue, completing 49 of his 57 passes (both second highest on the squad) on the evening – more than half of which (26) came in the opposing half of the field – while also winning three tackles, two interceptions, a team-high nine possessions gained, and four of his seven duels.Koffie’s active night played a big part in helping Indy Eleven own a 31%-22% advantage when it came to time spent in the final third. And during the other 47% when the ball was in the middle third? The above stats show just a glimpse of why Koffie essentially owned “Route 1” between the penalty boxes. To go along with that grit, some class as well … go back and watch his “hockey assist” on the Indy opener, his ball from midfield springing Nick Moon down the right flank to set up Arteaga’s eventual game-winner.That two-way play is exactly what Koffie was brought to Indy to deliver, and Saturday evening provided perhaps the best display of what the recently-turned 30-year-old can do in that deep-lying midfield role. An injury kept Koffie home from Indy’s nightmare trip to Atlanta last month, so it will be interesting to see how his presence will affect the rhythm of both sides’ play through the center of the pitch this time around. 

ATL PLAYER TO WATCH: MF AJANI FORTUNE

One player who might see a lot of Koffie in that middle of the park Saturday is Fortune, the 18-year-old Atlanta United Academy product who has made 15 appearances for ATL UTD 2 this season but was only officially signed by the USL Championship outfit last week. In recent weeks Fortune has been called to serve at various spots on Atlanta’s three-man midfield line … but no matter where he has lined up, his heat maps show a tendency to drift to the center channel – and if that is the case, you can be sure he’ll meet acquaintances with Koffie plenty.But therein lies the issue for Atlanta, which has seen Robbie Mertz take a more attacking presence from his spot on the midfield three. Should that be the case on Saturday, that will leave Fortune and Christian Wiley the tall task of going toe-to-toe with Moon & Co. down the right flank, especially on quick counter opportunities. Like much of ATL’s roster, while the young Fortune may favor to boldly attack, he’ll have to balance that want with the need to stay back and defend with numbers, especially if Indy can continue its recent trend of holding more of its possession in its attacking third.

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