In four of the six meeting between the New York Cosmos and Indy Eleven, the result has been the same. The two sides have produced four 1-1 draws in total, with each of last season's three meetings producing that result.
Neither the Eleven or the Cosmos have lost in 2016, thought one club has looked significantly better than the other. New York won each of their opening two fixtures at home, keeping clean sheets against both the Ottawa Fury and Jacksonville Armada, while looking more dangerous in attack than they have in past seasons. Meanwhile, The Eleven have managed a pair of draws, against the offensively inept Tampa Bay Rowdies on the road, and the rebuilt Fury at home.
While a third consecutive draw will likely be enough to satisfy Tim Hankinson on Saturday, Gio Savarese and his squad won't be satisfied with anything but a third consecutive win, keeping the pressure on both Carolina and Minnesota in the process. Savarese will likely be without midfielder Ruben Bover, however, following an injury due to an absolutely terrible tackle in the victory over Jacksonville.
While Savarese will likely be without Bover, he'll likely see his attacking options expand with the return of Yasmani Duk. Jairo Arrieta's fantastic form might mean Duk starts Saturday's match on the bench, but he'll almost certainly be involved, something that will excite most Cosmos fans watching from home. Here's what I think we'll see from the defending champs on Saturday:
Jimmy Maurer, Hunter Freeman, Jimmy Ockford, Carlos Mendes, Ayoze, Michael Lahoud, Adam Moffat, Niko Kranjcar, Juan Arango, Sebastien Guenzatti, Jairo Arrieta
Meanwhile, Hankinson will be without a pair of key offseason acquisitions, midfielders Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Gorka Larrea. Here's how I think he'll line up against the boys in green and white.
Jon Busch, Nemanja Vukovic, Colin Falvey, Lovel Palmer, Greg Janicki, Duke Lacroix, Justin Braun, Dylan Mares, Nicki Paterson, Brad Ring, Eamon Zayed
Given the lack of real depth in the Indy squad, and the injuries to a pair of key players, it's hard to imagine that the home side manages to get anything out of tonight's match. Still, they always seem to play well against the Cosmos, but I don't think that will be enough this evening. I'm predicting a third straight win and clean sheet for the defending NASL champs, this one by a 3-0 score.