|Dylan Mares on target for Indy|
It was good to see Indy get some players back from injury, going back to a more familiar shape definitely made a difference. We looked like a completely different and disjointed team up in Ottawa last week.
Indy reverted back to it's more familiar 4-4-2 formation and there were not too many changes. Regan finally decided to leave Rugg on the bench for this game, but I was kind of surprised to see Wojcik not in at the start or make an appearance.
Several players had to play out of position in Ottawa including Wojcik, so it wasn't an easy game for him or any other player. But prior to that game I feel he has been almost flawless and improving in each game, especially in front of goal. Possibly carrying a knock, not sure, but a little surprising, find it hard to believe it was performance related.
Brad Ring returned to the starting lineup, which I am sure made many people happy, and Dylan Mares returned to his attacking mid position, I said if that happened he would be the outfield player to watch, and the combination of Ring and Mares in their usual position makes a huge difference to our team.
Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw and draw again....
Right from the start Indy looked like a much more balanced and comfortable team this week. We moved the ball as well as we would normally and took the game to New York reasonably early.
Apart from a set piece from Cosmos that was gathered up by Kristian Nicht in the first ten, it would be Indy with the first clear chance about 13 or 14 minutes into the game. A long pass from Erick Norales found Dane Richards up front, Dane managed to wrestle free of the defense and force a one on one with Maurer, but the keeper smothered. Indy managed to get possession back after the rebound and a low shot was driven in by Ring but gathered easily.
Shortly after it was Cosmos turn to give Indy a scare, Raul latched onto a ball in the 18 and his chip managed to beat Nicht, but it landed on the top of the net. Erick Norales gave cause for concern as he rushed into the net to give himself a chance to clear it and went crashing into the bottom back bar of the frame.
Luckily Norales recovered, although the crash held up the game for several minutes, with Cory Miller suspended, it would have been a nightmare for Indy to lose Norales so early in the game.
The remainder of the first half saw very little in the way of clear cut chances for either side, there was some great moments of individual play, some sweet moves from Pineda, some great defending from Janicki with a block and clear on 27, and couple of great midfield strips from Ring and Norales in the 32nd minute.
Things also got a little chippy, both number 17's Stojkov and Ayoze picked up yellows in their little battle and Greg Janicki had to leave the field for a couple of minutes after a smack in the nose from New York's Moffat, Indy went a man down towards half time but still pressed and Franco forced a yellow again after being fouled by David Diosa.
It was the last few minutes of the first half that created the most excitement. A great back flick from Pineda inside the Cosmos 18 sent brown through on goal, his shot beat Maurer but couldn't beat the woodwork.
Within the same minute the two men I said had to be kept at bay in this game teamed up to create the first goal of the game, Restrepo and Raul played a nice one two across the 18 with Restrepo smashing the final pass from Raul past Nicht to take the lead.
Just as the supporters heads were down after losing a goal, the players heads were not, almost immediately Indy drew the game level. A move started and ended by Dylan Mares, he picked up a loose ball in midfield, passed it to Ring and pushed himself forward, Ring fed it to Stojkov who popped the ball over into space on the left side of the Cosmos 18, Mares ran onto it and smashed the ball low into the Cosmos net past Maurer!
The second half pretty much continued in a similar style as most of the first, both teams trading possession and looking for openings but neither really finding a good final ball. It would be the Cosmos that would find the best chance first, a low shot from Restrepo saw Nicht unable to hold onto the ball, the deflection off the keepers chest was blocked by Janicki as the Cosmos attack tried for a second bite at it.
The double sending off on the 65th minute was a game changer, I think it actually ruined what had a been a good contest up until that point. I also think it could have been sorted out easier. Herrera the referee had maybe felt he had been patient enough in the game up until that point, I honestly think he could have pulled both players aside and give them a slap on the wrist and got on with the game, maybe a yellow card each.
A ball knocked over the top was being shielded by Norales and there was some flailing of arms and pushing from behind from New York's Guenzatti. Norales was not happy at the attention and made his feelings known, it was stupid from both players to be honest, a captain should know better to walk away from something like that, so a little headbutt from Erick and a slap from Guenzatti and that was that, both sent off. I felt it should have been two yellows, but violent contact from both, it's up to the ref at that point. It really took the edge off the game for me.
It was a tough one for both sides. Guenzatti had come on for Lucky Mkosana who had been having a good game, he was the fresh pair of legs on the field but only lasted 4 minutes. Indy of course without a center back on the bench, had to patch things up at the back the best they could. Marco Franco pushed into a more central role and Stojkov dropped back into the full back position.
From this point the game just kind of fizzed out, no doubt the heat, humidity and the increased amount of space to be covered on the field maybe started to sap the energy out of both sides. It would be the 67th minute before Indy had another shot when Pineda curled a ball from distance, but right at the keeper.
For the remainder of the game Indy deserves credit for having to continually juggle their lineup each time they introduced subs, each player gave it everything and we saw Smart and Ring both back helping in defense, but it was obvious both sides were tired and at times it looked like either side were happy to finish up with a point.
It was a much better performance from the previous wekend, despite having players on the field that were not 100% fit, the fact we could revert back to a more normal formation made a huge difference.
Having Brad Ring on the field for 75 minutes or so was crucial, even though you could see a little weariness in him later, he proves time and time again his value to the team. Hopefully he is on his way to being 100% again.
I felt once again we tinkered with the offense and it didn't really provide any dividend, individually at times Brown and Richards did great things, but there was no instant connection or chemistry with them.
Hopefully there is a time soon where we find that perfect pairing up front, whether it is from existing players or maybe from a new signing, we'll have to wait and see. I just feel it has been a problem since inauguration, one of these days we'll find something that will click regularly.
I definitely think it is a point won for Indy, coming off of a very bad defeat and still not having a fully fit team, at no time in the game did I think New York were a better side than us, and throughout the game we seemed a little more fluid and determined. It was a very even contest, and of course as a result we have a sixth draw between Indy and New York!
Bloody Shambles MVP ......
Once again it was a very very tough one to call, it was a great team effort and every player gave everything they had. It had to be a decision between two or three players.
Kyle Hyland had a solid game as always, maybe on the goal we conceded a few in that area could have been sharper, but overall he was class and had to battle with Restrepo, arguably one of the sharpest players in the league.
Janicki coming in for Cory Miller, what a fantastic 90 he had, he saved us several times and threw himself at everything denying New York several goal scoring chances. Marco Franco also gave another great showing for Indy at full back before moving into center.
This week however I am going to give MVP to a player who improves every single time I see him take the field, and as far as creative spark goes, he was the guy causing all the problems with his vision and precision passing, just like Restrepo was for the Cosmos.
I am giving MVP this week to Victor Pineda, I just really think he deserves it, at times if our forwards and attacking players had been a little quicker to react to what Victor was seeing they could have connected more with some of his great passing throughout the whole game. And he had a few fancy dribbles himself.
I'll take a point, see you later New York ;)