While second-rate bloggers are only providing you with three things to think about before match weekends, we here at Brew Wallace are putting in 133% effort and providing you with FOUR things to think about. Enjoy!
Tim Hankinson surprised everyone with a 4-4-2 formation the last time the Boys In Blue ran out. It was a successful formation change as Indy controlled portions of the game and ultimately defeated the New York Cosmos on April 16. Part of the switch was designed to improve the team offensively and part was likely due to the player’s available – Hankinson’s “maestro” in the 4-2-3-1 formation, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, was unavailable due to injury. With much improved play in the midfield and in the final third the 4-4-2 was a unanimous success, at least for one week. After a bye week and the assumed return of Ubiparipovic and the addition of attacking winger Omar Gordon the Eleven it will be interesting to see what formation the Eleven start with in Oklahoma City. Caution and defense could be preferred in an away match, however if Indy wants to compete for the Spring title they must get victories. Based on how well the team played versus the Cosmos, I expect the Gaffer to send the Eleven out in a 4-4-2 against Rayo OKC in an attempt to take the game to the expansion Scissortails. Having two formations in which your team has different capabilities is a good dilemma to have as it makes the Eleven even tougher for opposition to develop game plans.
Indiana may have a bad rep as being behind the times but at least we’re not Oklahoma. After receiving all necessary approvals and permits, Rayo OKC received a warning before their first game from the county sheriff about selling beer at their games due to their home turf being on the property of a high school. (The beer they were initially allowed to sell was only 3.2% ABV. In many places in the world, Flint Michigan, that’s just safe water.) Rayo supporters have begun referring to their stadium as The Speakeasy, which tells me they’re still enjoying themselves despite having a sheriff from hell.
Shart Stadium Showdown
All eyes will be focused on New York Sunday afternoon for the juicy matchup at Shart Stadium between the Cosmos and league leading Carolina Railhawks. It will likely be one of the few times that a majority of NASL fans will be rooting for a Cosmos victory; if the Railhawks pick up three more points they will be a few laps ahead of the field in the Spring Sprint. Carolina was a popular dark horse pick for the playoffs by league fans before the season so their strong play is not totally a surprise, but no one expected them to be in position to qualify for the playoffs by the end of May.
By this point we’re all familiar with his epic performances on the pitch and with his two late goals agains New York we’ve also experienced a legendary Eamon Zayed performance firsthand. Zayed also has fascinating stories about run-ins with the Ghadaffi family and rebels in Libya as well as a coach in Iran who learned to speak English in record time. In the further peeling of the onion that is Zayed, I spoke with him through social media this week and learned that he has an undergraduate degree in business and a master’s degree in finance. (I not-so-cleverly nicknamed him “EZ” shortly after his arrival in Indy. After this new knowledge, I’m filing a formal nickname amendment, requesting a change to “1040 EZ”.) Eamon wouldn’t reveal his top secret plans for his post-playing career but did share that he is interested in pursuing a second master’s degree, this time in sports psychology, and may attempt a move into a team management or coaching role.
It’s quite rare for an active professional athlete to have an advanced degree, heck, it’s practically become an anomaly for an athlete to have any degree these days. In European soccer, even fewer players have college degrees; some even look down on educated players, reasoning that they must not be high quality if they had time to get an education. Zayed has earned multiple degrees and built a career that 99.9 percent of the world love to have. As we learn more about Irishman it seems that he may be the most interesting player in the NASL (or athlete in Indianapolis). Let’s enjoy and appreciate the intelligent goalscorer while we have him.
Finally, consider making a pledge or donation to one of these fine causes supported by Indy Eleven’s Eamon Zayed and Jon Busch. These fun initiatives encourage fans to pledge $1 or more for every goal or save. Brew Wallace is proudly supporting both and has pledged $9 per goal and $1 per save.
#Eamon Zayed Rule: Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation along with Éamon’s skills are taking a negative and turning it into a positive by taking back the #EamonZayedRule and helping provide more fun for children in Indiana by partnering with Playworks Indiana. Learn more about the cause and donate.
Saves For Seals: Goalkeeper Jon Busch is encouraging fans to make a per save pledge for every stop he and his fellow Indy Eleven goalkeepers make during the NASL season. If you donate you can take pride in every big save, because you’ll know it will not only help the “Boys in Blue,” but, more importantly, it will also help support the families of fallen warriors through the Navy Seal Foundation. Learn more about the cause and donate.