Preview: New York Cosmos at Indy Eleven

IMAGE, NY COSMOS

by JAKE NUTTING

The New York Cosmos head to Indianapolis this weekend seeking to extend their lead in the Fall Season and combined standings. Indy Eleven will be just as eager to secure all three points in order to maintain any hope of surpassing the Cosmos for the top seed in The Championship.

Currently trailing the Cosmos by seven points with only seven matches remaining, time is running out for the Spring Season champions to make a move in the standings.

The Cosmos handed Indy their biggest loss of the year last month when they dispatched them 3-0 at Shuart Stadium. Indy is likely to put up more of a fight on their home turf this weekend, though, as they have yet to find themselves on the losing end of a match played in front of their home supporters this year. They recorded their first win in five matches last week in a 2-1 result over the streaking Miami FC.


Match Information

Saturday, September 24, 7:30 p.m. ET. Michael A. Carroll Stadium

TV/Streaming: ONE World Sports, oneworldsports.com

Referee: Dave Gantar

Last Meeting: Cosmos W, 3-0


Cosmos’ attack vs. Indy’s defense

With just one goal recorded in the last three matches, New York’s attack has hit a bit of a speed bump. The Cosmos are still outshooting the competition by a wide margin, but they’ve ceased getting all the breaks when it comes to finishing. As the club still has ten more goals than the league’s second-leading scorer, the recent skid would appear to be more of a blip than a serious cause for concern. Although it should be noted that nearly two-thirds of New York’s 45 goals this year have been tallied at home.

The rock solid defense that helped Indy capture the spring title is fighting to regain its composure as the Fall Season comes to a close. Indy has now conceded 11 goals in their last six matches after only allowing 16 in the previous 19. After allowing the Cosmos to drop three of those 11 goals last month, Indy could be in store for another difficult night.

Advantage: Cosmos


Indy’s attack vs. Cosmos’ defense

What was once a liability for the Cosmos has quickly become a strength. With four straight clean sheets, keeper Jimmy Maurer and the Cosmos back line are exemplifying how defense wins championships. Center back Roversio’s status is in doubt after an early exit last week, but David Ochieng did a fine job off the bench in the draw with Edmonton. The back line seemingly got even stronger this week with the signing of right back Ryan Richter, who was a mainstay in historically good Ottawa Fury FC defense last year.

Like with Edmonton, the Cosmos will need to be weary of counter attacks and set piece chances against Indy. Leading scorer Eamon Zayed is a lurking forward, capable of going long stretches without seeing the ball before pouncing on a rebound or half chance to find the back of the net. His two goals against the Cosmos in the spring were the difference in that match.

Advantage: Cosmos


Midfields

The biggest offensive threats from Indy in midfield remain out on the wings. Don Smart is an athletic and physical option on the right, while Dyaln Mares is a versatile attacker who can set up a teammate just as easily as he can finish from distance himself. If Mares or Smart come through with producing chances for Zayed, Indy is can be a difficult team to hold off.

Adam Moffat has been an unsung hero of the Cosmos’ unbeaten run. He’s not scoring as many goals, but Moffat’s stewardship in midfielder has helped the Cosmos dictate nearly every one of their recent matches. With Moffat in the lineup, the Cosmos midfield has cut down on turnovers and has spurred a number of scoring chances.

Advantage: Cosmos


Coaches

As impressive as the Cosmos’ recent run has been, the true test of their form may be approaching as five of their remaining seven matches are set to be played away from home. The Cosmos control their own fate at the moment, so if they can find a way to find consistency on the road, the title and home field advantage in The Championship is theirs for the taking.

Tim Hankinson has held Indy Eleven steady all year, but that might not be good enough come time for the postseason. At the end of the day, all that matters in the NASL is who lifts the Soccer Bowl trophy. If Indy wants to be that team, they’ll need to start rising above being simply steady.

Advantage: Cosmos


X-factor

Fans may have been spoiled by this year’s battles between the Cosmos and Indy. Prior to this year, the two sides had only played to six straight draws. A stalemate could be in store once again this weekend, especially considering that a win is not critical for the Cosmos away from home.


Prediction: Cosmos 2-1