|Souleymane Youla grabbed a late equalizer for Indy Eleven and his first NASL goal.|
By: James Cormack
Puerto Rico FC 1 Indy Eleven 1
Well we didn't have much of a vacation really but watching this game it certainly had the feeling of "it sucks to be back at work". It was a good chance to start the fall campaign with a win against a team with little or no experience in NASL league play but it wasn't to be. Indy Eleven almost suffered their first league defeat of the year but again showed they will keep playing for the result no matter how late in the game it comes.
It was a case of stepping into the unknown, there is not a lot you can do to study an opponent you have never played against nor played against any other team in the same league. All you can really do is set yourself up as you have before and step into it and see what happens.
Puerto Rico it seemed played the game with a meat cleaver approach and were willing to chop their way through any situation, at times it was brutal to watch. Having said that they also proved they were not just here to make up the numbers. Within the first few minutes we had high feet, slamming tackles, blood and bandages.
To be fair to both teams, the referees were not handing the physicality of the game too well, looked to be FIFA CONCACAF referees (yeah we all have experience of those right) but I seriously question would question their ability to control a game on the ecidence of this one, encounters in Puerto Rico should be entertaining to say the least if the same allocation continues.
|Officials were not keeping up with incidents of dangerous play|
Valdin Legister was the center referee from Jamaica, and on his FIFA bio among his favorite hobbies is "watching sporting activities", well at least he got to enjoy his hobby in this match. There were numerous opportunities early in this game for the officials to stamp their authority on this it and remove the excess physicality but none were taken. Simply issuing a yellow card doesn't change the mood of the game, pulling players aside and letting them know that you will not tolerate any more may make a difference.
The playing surface also was fairly poor, and I am not using that as an excuse, I don't have any excuses for how we underperformed, but the pitch did remind me of the grass laid at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Inter V Chelsea match a few years back. Literally every time someone slid or pivoted or made a tackle huge lumps of sod were coming up, and after only 20 minutes into the game the ball was obviously taking bobbles in open play through a maze of lumps and bumps.
Indy Eleven started with the lineup we expected, a group more than capable of winning the game, Greg Janicki took the captain's armband in the absence of Colin Falvey. Janicki was joined by Franco, Miller and Vukovic at the back in front of Jon Busch. Gordon, Mares, Ring and Paterson made up the midfield with Zayed and Braun in front. Lacroix, Palmer and Souleymane Youla all earned time in the second half.
|Apparently it was "Kids Go Free" night in Bayamon!|
Our passing in the game and loss of possession was pretty much our downfall at times, either too short or too long most of the time combined with good pressing from the opposition, we labored to create chances and when we did we struggled to finish. On the upside our delivery from corners and set pieces was very good, but we still failed to convert from most of them. Failure to capitalize on our chances pretty much scuppered the three points for us. Praise should be given to PRFC for the way they pressed Indy, they made the game difficult even though over physical at times, and they deserved their point.
The further you go in a game without being able to score the higher the chance of falling behind first and that is what happened in the 74th minute when Culbertson managed to get his cross in ahead of Marco Franco which dipped in to the center of the six yard box, Cory Miller couldn't get enough on it to clear and Hector Ramos was there to pounce on the ball from close range to put Puerto Rico in front.
As we have seen many times before Indy Eleven never give up, as long as there are seconds left in a game there is always a chance they can turn things around. Lovel Palmer almost got his first goal for Indy and the equalizer with a bullet header from a Vukovic corner but it was collected by PRFC keeper David Meves.
Minutes later, after first dealing with a mini middle school pitch invasion, Souleymane Youla stepped up to score his first goal for the club in stoppage time. A beautifully weighted free kick from Indy's left by Nemanja Vukovic floated in towards the back post and Youla connected with the head to put Indy back on level terms in the game.
It can probably be noted as our poorest performance of the year so far since the start of the regular season, but we will have these games and it's important to learn from them. Yes we remain undefeated, and thankfully we got a point on the road but it is still important for the coaches and players to look at these games and try to learn from them. It is a point gained but it is also two more dropped in a game we could have won, Indy wants to win the Fall season as well, to do so you have to improve in this type of game.
It is still early though, and even though we played Pachuca only a week ago, it's hard sometimes to get back in the saddle with the same momentum. Indy have players coming back, the roster is strong and we will make good in more games than we won't. Indy have proven and will continue to prove they are a force to be reckoned with in 2016.
The fall season will be intensive with more midweek games, a double header is on the way against a Minnesota team fresh from demolishing the Railhawks 5-1 and a Strikers team who pulled off quite a turnaround in Spring, and that's what needs to be concentrated on now. It is important to take stock and analyze along the way but Indy Eleven will be judged on their ability over the long haul and not on the strength of one sub par performance.
As always Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation are supporting Playworks Indiana children's charity with our #EamonZayedRule initiative. We are donating money for every goal Éamon Zayed scores this year and you can choose to play along or just make a one off donation to help us reach our target of $2000. Click Here for More Information.
Watch out for a new blog with some exciting news coming soon, we have some upcoming events to tell you about including Permanent Relegation's annual Euchre tournament the Game of Kings, which will help raise more money. If you are interested SIGN UP HERE.
At the moment we are almost at 25% of our goal of $2000, please consider helping us get a little further!