|"We are a close-knit team. We don't give up. We just wanted to win. We are sick and tired of draws." - Éamon Zayed|
By: James Cormack
Last weekend after Indy managed to fight back and take a point in the game against Ottawa, when asked about the upcoming game against the Cosmos, Tim Hankinson said "You have to beat the best to be the best."
Indy Eleven did exactly that last night and once again pulled out a miraculous second half comeback to become the first team of these two to ever defeat the other after a run of six draws in as many games since Indy first kicked a ball in 2014.
Many of us wondered how Hankinson would line up his team this week after two games without a win and Siniša Ubiparipović unavailable for selection. Would Mares be a straight swap? Would Braun get a more central role? Would we stick with the same formation?
Coach may have surprised everyone including Cosmos coach Savarese by playing a flat 4-4-2 and pairing Justin Braun in front with Zayed, pulling Paterson and Ring up into the center and starting Dylan Mares in the wide right position.
Not a lot of surprises in the Cosmos lineup other than a slight re-jig of formation and starting goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer being out on compassionate leave for the birth of a child. Kyle Zobeck deputized in goal.
The change in approach from Indy Eleven worked well. We were more aggressive and direct, we pressed we hustled and we gave our opposition less time on the ball than we have in any other game so far. We made it harder for them to come out of their own half.
The first half was goalless and either side only really had one shot on target, but the biggest thing I noted while re-watching the game we had more crosses from wide right and left in the first half than we did in the entire Ottawa game last week, add four corners to that and you have a good indication of how the change this week was being effective.
It was the second half that would cause the most excitement. Indy Eleven supporter's hearts were broken first. New York's Sebastián Guenzatti was taken down by Greg Janicki in front of goal in an attempt to clear, Niko Kranjcar slotted home for his first Cosmos goal.
Indy Eleven never gave up at any moment in the half, they continued to press the Cosmos and in the 89th minute it would be Janicki involved in the thick of things at the other end of the field, who drew Indy a penalty after he was pushed inside the box during a corner kick.
Éamon Zayed stepped up and scored his first Indy Eleven goal from the spot. I am sure at this point, after the wild celebrations had subsided, many were thinking the same as me, her comes another Indy V Cosmos draw.
Our team had other ideas and in the last minute of stoppage time a flick from the edge of the area to Dylan Mares led to a shot which was spilled by Kyle Zobeck and Zayed was there again to score his second goal of the season and send the Brickyard Battalion into orbit, and they probably are still trying to come back down to earth?
"I've been coaching at a pretty high level for 36 years now. This was the best night of my soccer life, beating the Cosmos in front of these fans! It was fantastic." - Tim Hankinson.
On review of not just this game, but the three we have played so far in NASL, the most important thoughts I come away with are
- We have a coach that is studious and knowledgeable, he is not afraid to change things for any particular game 'or' during any particular game to not only make sure we don't lose but also to achieve a win.
- We have a group of players who are never going to give up at any point in any game, something I also noticed during preseason even in matches with bad results. They believe in each other and what they are trying to do and is becoming more evident.
- We defeated a team who just won the Soccer Bowl and have started the 2016 campaign with two straight wins and without conceding a goal. This is huge, and a huge lift for everyone. Cosmos went undefeated last spring, they can't this year.
"People tell us the Cosmos are the best team in the League. But I believe we are equal to them....I think we can win the spring season, I think we can go unbeaten in the first ten games....that's the aim." - Éamon Zayed
The team and the supporters can bask in their glory for a couple of weeks. Indy have their bye week next weekend and return to action against Rayo OKC on the 30th of April, our next chance to cheer them on at Carroll Stadium will be against FC Edmonton on May 7th.
Keep an eye on the big tie next weekend as the two teams directly above us in the table, Minnesota United and New York Cosmos play off against each other. Hopefully it's a draw!
|"I try to keep defenders guessing. Move around |
a lot...Obviously playing up top is the position
I've played most in my career. I'm kind of a
little more comfortable there." - Justin Braun
Caleb Ramp's Key Points:
Justin Braun: I’ve been one of Justin Braun’s bigger critics through preseason and the first two games. He impressed me on Saturday. Hankinson’s switch to the 4-4-2 revealed a player with much more confidence, a player much more comfortable in his role, and a player with an endless motor who will contribute all over the pitch. Braun beat the Cosmos back line on several occasions, including a disallowed goal, and a 92nd minute header from a quick counter attack which sailed just wide. His hold-up play throughout the match was tremendous, and Zayed’s ultimate game-winning rebound tap-in would not have been possible without an absolutely superb flick which played Dylan Mares in on goal. He and Zayed can be a deadly pairing in the future.
Resilience: A buzzword we used after the Ottawa game, but it’s worth repeating here. In a span of less than thirty seconds, Indy went from having a go-ahead goal disallowed on a debatable offside call, to conceding a penalty at the other end. A goal ahead to a goal behind in a blink of an eye. Frustration only grew when a second controversial offside call stopped Braun in his tracks, after what appeared to be a beautifully-timed pass from Zayed played him through the Cosmos back line.
Most teams collapse in that scenario, especially against a team of the Cosmos’ quality. If we’re honest, few of us would have blamed them if they had.
Instead, this squad once again showcased the experience and quality which was so highly touted heading into 2016. They were the better side from the opening whistle, and they didn’t allow a few moments of adversity to change that. They maintained pressure until it was the Cosmos—the reigning NASL champions—who cracked.
Cohesion: This team plays for the badge. They play for the fans. They play for each other. Holding up Jair Reinoso’s jersey after the equalizing goal—Jair having missed this game due to health concerns within his family—was an extremely classy move. Before the season started, Hankinson discussed the importance of instilling a warrior culture: an environment where the players all act as a single family unit and always have each other’s backs. It appears as if Tim is well on his way to accomplishing that here in Indy.
Leadership among the players is also an important part of building and maintaining this type philosophy in the locker room. Hankinson on captain Colin Falvey’s pregame talk to the team: “[Falvey] stood there and really got into the guys, and let them know that the Cosmos may have a great history, but it’s just another team. Don’t be in awe, and let’s just get after them and stay after them, and just outwork them and outplay them in every part of the game. It was very inspiring.”
For the 2016 NASL Season we have teamed up with Éamon Zayed and Playworks Indiana to raise money for children's charity. For every goal that Éamon scores this year in all competitions we will be donating a cash amount to Playworks. We encourage you to help with this initiative even if just a dollar per goal.
Please CLICK HERE for more details,if you would like to take part and pledge an amount per goal, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your $ amount per goal and name, we will inform you closer to the end of the season how you can make your donation. For more information on Playworks you can visit their website here. Please share details of this using hashtag #EamonZayedRule.