Week 15 Preview: what you need to know

Another twofer for the Legion

It seems like forever since the Legion last played a league game. In fact it will be a full 3 week gap by the time the Three Sparks are back in action this Saturday. And then they get a quick turnaround and play again next Wednesday, then there is another 9-day break. Huh. And both the upcoming games are at home with the ladies of Legion WFC making it a double-header in both cases.

The most important part

We’ll handle the Wednesday games in a later post. so for now we focus on Indy Eleven for the men (6:30pm) and Chattanooga Red Wolves for the women (3:00pm).

This will be the first game against the Eleven this season and it is a critical one for the good guys. The two teams are dead even on points at 16 with the Legion getting the nod on the 3rd tiebreaker, PPG v. conference opponents, and by a pretty thin margin. Additionally, the game next Wednesday is against Loudoun United, who trail both teams by 3 points. And then there is the need to end the 5-game league losing skid, not to mention getting over last week’s bitter disappointment.

Indy, for their part, have been somewhat erratic this season. Until last week’s blowout 4-0 win over the then conference-leading Charleston Battery they had struggled to score (9 goals in 11 games before that). And they followed that win up with a 1-1 draw at home with cellar-dwelling Hartford Athletic. Go figure. That 4-0 win though does need a caveat: Charleston centerback Leland Archer gave up a red card and a penalty just 19 seconds into the game.

They are also better away (2-2-1) than at home (1-3-3). They are a very unpredictable squad despite having quite a few names on the roster. They picked up Tampa Bay Rowdies legend Sebastian Guenzatti this season but he has just 2 goals in 13 games. They also boast Solomon Asante and Cameron Lindley, neither of whom is producing. Top goalscorer is Aodhan Quinn, who also joined this season from Phoenix Rising, but even he only has 3 to his name.

One name they just parted ways with however is Juan Tejada. It was announced today that he is going to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks after apparently falling out of favor in Indy.

At the back they are fairly stingy, giving up just 15 goals in 13 games and getting 4 clean sheets. Only Yannik Oettl has featured between the posts for them, yet another new signing this season previously with Hartford. He’s German so he has a pedigree in goal.

Formation is also erratic. Over the past 4 games they have used a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3 and a 3-4-3. Of they go with a 3-man line that could cause some problems for the Legion, which notoriously struggles with that setup.

Prediction: Unpredictable or no, I’m calling for a Legion win here and potentially by multiple goals. There is too much riding on this one, even at this stage of the season. I would also expect the team to want to provide what should be a biggish crowd with some pleasing entertainment.

Preceding that game will be Legion WFC. They lost 1-4 to Chattanooga earlier this season in what was a very physical game they only got into late. They also just lost 0-4 in South Carolina, albeit with a rotated squad, so have something to work for. Legion WFC has dropped into a 2nd-place tie with Southern Soccer Academy and really needs a result here.

Prediction: The Chattanooga Red Wolves are showing themselves to be the cream of the South Central Division this season. And with good reason. This is going to be a tough game and I’m reluctantly going to call it for the visitors.

Best of the rest

A pretty full schedule this week, and it starts with 3 games tonight.

First up is Hartford v. Detroit City (6:00pm). They are 12th and 11th in the East, and both are having a difficult season. However, a win for Detroit would actually get them above the playoff line, at least temporarily. The East is very tight. Later on at 8:0pm El Paso Locomotive plays Las Vegas Lights. El Paso’s 7-game win streak ended last weekend; a game against bottom-placed Las Vegas seems like a good opportunity to start a new streak. Last is a good matchup: San Diego Loyal v. San Antonio (9:00pm). They 4th and 3rd in the West, but separated by just 2 points, so a flip could be on the cards. These are two very good teams for some excellent late night viewing.

Saturday’s lineup kicks off with Hartford v. Charleston (6:00pm). The Battery have just 1 point from their last 3 games and have lost top spot in the East and will want to get back to winning ways. At the same time will be The™ Miami v. Loudoun United. Both teams are 3 points behind the Legion and Indy, so keep an eye on this one.

An important game at 7:30pm: Memphis 901 v. Detroit. Area Code FC has a solid 5-game win streak going and still has games in hand. They seriously need to start dropping points, but a Detroit that has had a hard time scoring and plays twice on the road this week may not be the team to force that.

Also significant: FC Tulsa plays Orange County (8:00pm). Tulsa is also 3 points shy of the Legion and Orange County is bad, but slowly improving. Another game to keep track of.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Louisville City all head out West this weekend, to play El Paso, Oakland Roots and Phoenix respectively. Games are at 8:30pm, 9:00pm and 9:30pm. Not easy games for any of them by any stretch and the West could really help the Three Sparks out this week. In particular, the Riverhounds’ 5-game win streak needs to come to an end.

The few in-conference games out West on Saturday aren’t of much interest and there are no games on Sunday, so that’s your weekly preview!.


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