|Baboucarr Jallow not a Rowdies Fan!|
The game itself kind of went how I expected, I didn't really expect four goals but I thought it would be a tight game considering both teams had played in the Cup on Wednesday and lost, but I doubt any of us expected to witness the three red cards and a 97th minute strike of Kyle Hyland Lightning that leveled the game and no doubt scorched a little bit of Matt Pickens eyebrows on the way in.
I expected our players to be fired up considering just how low we had sunk in recent games, there was at least one point to prove, that despite our faults we can be very difficult when we want to. The first twenty two or so minutes before weather conditions halted the game were very encouraging indeed. The lineup once again was different and interesting, with some necessary changes made because of injuries. Without either of our regular starting defensive midfielders (Ring, Pena), Daniel Keller started in midfield in front of a defense that was missing Erick Norales. Cory Miller started alongside Janicki with Hyland and Franco left and right of them. Was very happy to see Dragan Stojkov back in the lineup at right midfield, Mares, Keller, Brown and Pineda filled it out and Rugg started up front. Probably would not have been my ideal choice to start, but for some reason Charlie gets a spot over Wojcik, there you go, I try not to figure it out anymore. It was basically a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1.
Indy started aggressively and showed a lot of heart and determination, before the rain delay and to a certain extent after it, Tampa did not look like a team comfortable with the weather or the surface at all and failed to get into any kind of rhythm which quite surprised me. Kyle Hyland can be credited for starting and ending the scoring in this match, in the 20th minute the full back even when slightly off balance made a beautiful chip pass into Brian Brown who received and turned around the 12 yard mark inside the box and slotted the ball neatly to the advancing Dylan Mares who side footed into the right side of Tampa's goal. This shows how we really can be if we restrict ourselves to smart sensible passing.. pass, pass and in the net, our first goal in 272 minutes of open play. It was about our only real chance in the game up until that moment and we took it well.
Our boys in blue managed to keep Tampa from scoring for almost two and a half hours (okay yeah I know there was a rain delay break and a party in the parking garage). Indy started brightly when play resumed, nobody knew how the teams would react after such a long break, but eventually it was Tampa that found their game and scored on the 40th minute, but let's face it the goal was a fluke and outside of that they never looked really threatening. A low fast drive on wet turf found the inside of Cory Miller's right heel and the ball deflected into the net for an own goal. Situations like that are easily tolerable although hard to swallow, I am sure Miller felt bad but he shouldn't, he played magnificently all evening. The next goal was a little harder to swallow, in the 68th minute for some reason Brad Ring was left to mark the tallest Tampa player on the field at a corner, I am not going to fault Brad Ring, but whoever is captaining the team or the defense should be at fault for this. Maicon Santos is six foot six and was able to rise above Ring easily to score Tampa's second goal of the evening.
At 2-1 down, what would follow was to coin a phrase "a bloody shambles"! For most people watching from the west end it was already obvious that the officials for the evening were a hot mess. We saw Tampa players running off the side of the field with the ball and coming back in without throw ins given, corners that were obviously corners not given, it seemed the officials were as annoyed by the rain delay more than anyone else. I am sure Tampa fans would not agree, but they were not there, outside of what you could see on TV coverage, Tampa players took it upon themselves to harass and insult the referees as much as they could for the remainder of the game. Maicon was sent off for violent misconduct and rightly so, regardless of what started the situation he reached out to hit Janicki in the face and like it or not that is a sending off. This was the first of three red cards, between which our only notable effort on goal was a Charlie Rugg limp header pass back to Pickens in the Tampa goal. Stefan Antonijevic was correctly sent off for a second bookable offense in the 89th minute which reduced Tampa to nine men. Around seven minutes of time was added on and to cut a long story short we saw most of that dominated by Indy Eleven desperately trying to find an equalizing goal, interspersed with bouts of wet turf skiddy ping pong. In the 97th minute Indy found that equalizer with a moment of individual brilliance from Kyle Hyland who found himself free on the left side about 25 to 30 yards out from goal and he rifled in a rocket of a shot that left everyone stunned including Matt Pickens, the ball smashed into the right corner of the goal and the score was 2-2. Shortly after Tampa saw their third red card when Georgi Hristov decided to go and give the referees a mouthful for allowing the correct amount of time to be added on for all the time they wasted bitching about their other two red cards? Maybe Baboucarr Jallow the referee for the evening should now be called Havacard Red!
To sum up, I think it is important to note that Indy Eleven scored two goals in a game both from open play, I kind of though our only chance against anyone for the rest of spring would come from a corner or set piece as we just have no attacking edge, so that is something to be proud of. We also saw a lot of players on the field that showed they were willing to pour their guts out for the team, there was a lot of pride and what we lacked in overall finesse we made up for in sheer determination, and considering recent games, I'll take that. We had chances to win, and again we should have made more of our chances, but we took a point. If we really want to have a chance in fall we need to show not only more of this aggression and passion, we also need to get the ball down more and play. As I have said earlier we realistically need about 10 points from spring to give us that chance to get ourselves into the playoffs. So we need three points if possible from the next two games. Ft Lauderdale have shown themselves to be hit and miss so far and this may be a good chance for us to draw or maybe even win next week. Edmonton are my biggest fear, their lowly position before we lost to Ottawa does not mirror their ability on the field, they had to play two games a week because of the Amway Cup for about four weeks, but they score for fun and have shown recently the same form that saw them narrowly miss a playoff spot last year. Indy need to go out and win at all costs in their next two games and use the summer to figure out a plan and a team that can win points consistently in fall, the most important thing for me is we give it our best shot and show the same attitude we did on Saturday night for the rest of the year, if we can do that then I think I can suffer waiting until 2016 for some success.
Bloody Shambles MVP: Kyle Hyland without doubt, the vision on the pass that started the first goal, his kick butt attitude for the rest of the game and the amazing goal that made him NASL player of the week says it all. Honorable mentions to Brad Ring who came off the bench nursing injury to put in a solid 60 minutes and also Dylan Mares, Brian Brown and Cory Miller.