|Omar Gordon scores the equalizer for Indy Eleven.|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven finally returned to action at Carroll Stadium on Saturday night to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies after a bust away schedule. With only one point gained in their previous three games the home side needed a win to get back on track. Playing their third game in a week with players missing and tired legs it was never going to be an easy game.
With Greg Janicki and Marco Franco still unavailable for selection and Cory Miller suspended, Daniel Keller came in at center back alongside Falvey, allowing Palmer and Vukovic to continue in their normal full back positions. Neil Shaffer came into the squad as the only defender on the bench.
Duke Lacroix got a rare start allowing Dylan Mares to be rested to the bench. Ring, Paterson and Smart made up the rest of the midfield and Omar Gordon slotted in alongside Zayed up front, with Jon Busch in goal. Justin Braun returned to the bench for Indy alongside Cardona, Youla, Shaffer, Torrado, Mares and Ubiparipović.
|That look when you are standing next to the legendary Lovel Palmer!|
As mentioned in the preview, a win for Indy would have brought them back to second place in the combined standings and would erase some of the gap between themselves and Edmonton. Tampa are scrambling for points to keep up with the top four in combined standings and are struggling to stay away from the bottom in the fall championship run.
Indy Eleven played probably their best game in the last four, despite missing players and being weary from back to back games, they took the game to Tampa. It was important not to lose this game, to remain undefeated at home and look forward to a well earned break.
Unfortunately Indy Eleven once again went behind first. Tampa's PC drew a foul from Daniel Keller some thirty yards fromm the Indy goal in the center of the park. Joe Cole floated the free kick in towards Indy's right post, Falvey and the towering Antonijevic jumped for the ball but somehow wrestled each other out of contact and it fell to the boot of Justin Chavez to put the visitors in the lead in the 27th minute.
|Lacroix gave a solid 90|
Despite a goalless second half Indy Eleven at no time looked like the lesser team and continued to take the game to Tampa. In the 61st minute some great tenacity from Nicki Paterson saw him win back a lost ball deep on the left side which he floated into the head of Zayed, unfortunately Éamon's header went agonizingly wide.
As the clock wound down Indy continued to knock on Tampa's door with determination. Brad Ring lashed two shots in the remaining minutes but could not find the net. You could see it in the faces of the players just how much they wanted to win this game, and given the heavy schedule without rest you have to respect that, they never gave up.
There have been many games this season both home and away where Indy have drawn and it felt like two points dropped, but in this instance to me considering our circumstances it was a point won. Despite the scoreline it was a very good determined performance and no player can be faulted for lack of effort.
There were many positives to take from the game. With still two months to go in the season it was to our advantage to see Lacroix getting a start and Keller getting 90 minutes, these players need time and it's important to keep them sharp. Nicki Paterson came in from the beginning and put in a superb shift. Justin Braun returned and we saw glimpses of the attacking threat and presence he provides along side Zayed in attack.
Other results also fell in our favor, both New York Cosmos and FC Edmonton drew their games which allows us to keep in touch with the top, however Minnesota and Miami FC both won pulling the top five in the fall standings much closer together.
|Current top five in the fall standings (NASL.COM)|
Hopefully our boys get two days of much deserved rest and some light training this week, recovery is important and there should be no need for intensity over the coming week. We have another road game coming up in Fort Lauderdale this weekend before facing a rising and in form Miami FC at home in two weeks time.
Both of these games we know we are capable of winning if we are sufficiently rested and play our best game. Neither game will be easy, no game will be easy from now until the end of the season, the stakes will always be higher for our opposing teams, Indy Eleven need to strike a balance between remaining competitive and also making sure we have a fit and healthy squad when the playoffs come around.
Thanks to all who helped us raise a further $59.00 at the BYB Tailgate on Saturday for Playworks Indiana. 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.