|Éamon Zayed congratulates Braun for his work on the first of Indy Eleven's four goals.|
By: James Cormack
It is a great day when you get to looking back on a game, and everything you asked for in the preview for the match comes true. Indy Eleven badly needed to start scoring goals and they did. Players you wanted to see more from stepped up and performed. The importance of this game and winning it could not have been emphasized enough, and we won it in style.
It was never going to be an easy game, it should be noted up until Saturday Minnesota had only conceded four goals in all six of their NASL games this year. Add to that the last time Minnesota conceded four goals in a league match was in November of 2013 and they still won 6-4 against Tampa Bay Rowdies. The last time the Loons let in 4 goals and lost a game was in June of 2012 in a 5-1 defeat to Carolina Railhawks.
At the end, Indy Eleven won 4-2 in thrilling fashion. There were some scary moments but the team showed once again how quickly they can come together and overcome any hurdle. After ending the first half 1-0 thanks to great work from Justin Braun to leave Éamon Zayed with a tap in from close range, the second half provided a five goal thriller.
Credit also should be given to Nemanja Vukovic on the first goal for a tremendous run from back where he was almost knocked to the ground but recovered his balance and sent in the pass to set Braun in with the assist pass to set up the opening goal.
Omar Gordon had a big night, something I had stressed was needed in the preview of this game. He delivered and added a goal to a great performance. I am sure Sammy N'Djock does not want to look back on either of the first two goals. After a slip from Zayed in the box and a failure to gather by N'Djock, Omar Gordon was in the right place at the right time to sweep the ball in from a very tight angle.
Two goals ahead and cruising, as a supporter you have to feel great at that moment, something very special was about to happen. Over the next twenty minutes though Indy would find themselves staring down the barrel of potential disaster after Minnesota scored twice to level the game.
The Loons first goal, it has to be said was one of the best seen this season. Stefano Pinho rifled a volley in from the right side about 22 yards out, it was unstoppable and arguably the best goal of the game. Indy were a man down at the time, nobody to really blame, just one of those amazing goals you have to just suck in and get on with it.
As we have seen before this Indy Eleven team never gives up in any game, and despite a lapse came back to put themselves in front again. Unfortunately before taking the lead Greg Janicki suffered a head knock and had to be removed from play. Vukovic again had a hand in Indy's third goal, a blistering free kick fomr the left back saw Sammy N'Djock pull off a great save but his inability to hold on to the ball saw Justin Braun pounce from close range and feather the ball between the feet of N'Djock and the post from a very tight angle.
Indy continued with the lead through the regulation 90 minutes and the referee added 8 minutes to the game to give the supporters more reason to bite their nails as they waited impatiently to celebrate. They did not have to wait the full eight though. Dylan Mares was fouled on the edge of the Minnesota 18 by Justin Davis who saw red for a second bookable offense. The foul was inches outside the box and gave Indy an excellent chance to wind down the clock with a minute remaining.
Nicki Paterson who came on as a sub in the 67th minute for Gorka Larrea, stepped up to take the kick from our left of the 18 yard box and stunned Minnesota by providing a pinpoint finish into the far side of the net. It was such a beautiful free kick I think he should now be called "Sir Nicki of Paterson"! Sammy N'Djock at full stretch had no chance and it killed the game. Indy Eleven had scored four goals for the first time ever in an NASL league match!
To be fair Indy could have scored more in this game, multiple chances in front of goal were missed but when you score four it doesn't matter. Scoring has been an issue, we stepped up and proved we are capable. Every player stepped up on Saturday in what was a huge team effort.
It cannot be stressed enough the importance of this win, taking three points from Minnesota who have a pretty reasonable run in was vitally important. Edmonton and Cosmos both took wins today creating an intense log jam at the top of the table. Indy Eleven can now move on and concentrate on their final three games with a confidence lift and are still the only undefeated side in the league.
|Current Top 5 in NASL Standings as of Sunday 22nd May|
Let's not forget to give kudos to Coach Tim Hankinson, most weeks we have not been able to field all the players we want to, some games have been more difficult than they should be, but he has found what is needed in the big games and brought wins over New York Cosmos and Minnesota United.
Don't forget, next opportunity to watch your Boys In Blue at home will be on June 1st in the US Open Cup at Carroll Stadium against Louisville City FC. Indy Eleven will be looking to squash the memory of our exit to the same team last year and book a place in the next round to face Chicago Fire. Tickets are not part of the regular Season package, let's pack the house for this game and lift our team into the next round! GET TICKETS HERE!
Watch out for #NASLmap update coming this Monday!