By: Caleb Hilliard
Memphis 901 FC are unbeaten in their last five matches after the resounding Open Cup win over Hartford Athletic.
However, the team has not seen league action in nearly a month after having back-to-back matches cancelled against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Saint Louis FC.
The unbeaten run will be put to a real test against one of the best teams in the USL, Indy Eleven.
What to watch for: Indy Eleven
Indy lost at Saint Louis FC, 2-1, in the first match of the season and won the next four matches. They scored 11 goals through the first five matches and were one of the hottest teams through March and most of April.
They lost their second match of the season to the red-hot New York Red Bulls II. Indy scored the first goal of the match early and could have increased their lead, but NYRB II scored twice to pull off the comeback.
After the loss, Indy vastly improved their play at the back. In the five matches since the loss to NYRB II, Indy has allowed one goal.
They are becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Indy has the second most clean sheets in the league (6) and the third most goals conceded per match (0.7).
Head Coach Martin Rennie is keen on using formations that require three center-halves. Indy has lined up mostly in the offensive oriented 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1 and the more defensive 5-3-2.
In any of these formations the team plays very wide. The two most important players are the wing-backs, Ayoze and Lucas Farias.
They are able to link up play with the front three and track back on defense. If either wing-back is caught out of position then Indy has three defenders waiting to thwart any attack. They are a difficult team to break down but one vital player will be absent during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Center-half, Neveal Hackshaw is representing Trinidad and Tobago and he has been one of the most impactful players for Indy this season.
According to FotMob, Hackshaw has the best average rating (7.40) with two goals, 37 clearances, 75 percent tackles succeeded and 18 interceptions.
Forward Dane Kelly is the X-factor for Indy’s attack. He has four goals and one assist. In the 3-1 win over the Swope Park Rangers, Kelly netted a brace and added
What to watch for: Memphis 901 FC
The Memphis starting XI has slightly changed over the past few weeks, mostly due to the Open Cup and a few players leaving for the Gold Cup.
Playmaker, Adem Najem is due for another dominating match after his performance against Birmingham. Tim Mulqueen is using Najem as a wide midfield and it will be interesting if he places him in a more central role moving forward.
Najem is sometimes isolated on the wing and he is more effective with multiple options around him in the midfield.
Forward Lagos Kunga needs a breakout match. The young forward played well in his first match against NYRB U-23 and has shown that he can take on most defenders with his dribbling.
Memphis needs some creativity on offense in order to get the ball in behind this stout Indy back-line. Najem and Kunga are capable of coming through and making the most impact in this crucial match.
Captain Marc Burch is proving to be one of the best players on the team, with both his leadership and skill. Memphis need his experience in matches like these. The defender has played in big matches for over a dec
ade now. He knows what it takes to win and the Memphis players need to feed off of his energy.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at AutoZone park.
Get out there and enjoy the match with the rest of Memphis.
Indy has one of the largest fanbases in the USL, averaging over 10,000 fans per home match, at Lucas Oil Field. Some fans may have traveled to the match so let’s pack the park and show the Indy fans what Memphis soccer looks like.