Sunday, November 6, 2016

Indy Eleven Bound For NASL Final - Indy Eleven V FC Edmonton REVIEW (11/5/2016)

Siniša Ubiparipović and team mates celebrate the winning goal against FC Edmonton

By: James Cormack

Indy Eleven jumped over the penultimate hurdle on Saturday by defeating FC Edmonton by a goal to nil in their playoff semi final at Carroll Stadium. In the second semi final the New York Cosmos overcame Rayo OKC after going a goal down, a win for Rayo would have meant a final in Indianapolis, but it was not to be and the Cosmos eventually prevailed with a 2-1 win.

This means Indy Eleven will travel to New York and meet the Cosmos in he 2016 NASL Soccer Bowl at Belson Stadium in Queens NY on Sunday the 13th of November with a 7.00pm kick off. Indy Eleven having already made post season for the first time in their history will now play in their first ever Soccer Bowl final. New York will play in their third of the modern era, having won two of those in 2013 and 2015.

Indy Eleven started their semi final mostly as expected, the positions of defensive midfield and right back were probably the only two where changes would have been made, Marco Franco was given the starting spot over Lovel Palmer and Brad Ring preferred over Torrado. From the back it was Jon Busch, Marco Franco, Colin Falvey, Greg Janicki, Nemanja Vukovic, Don Smart, Brad Ring, Siniša Ubiparipovic, Dyland Mares, Justin Braun and Éamon Zayed. Cardona, Paterson, Gordon, Keller, Youla, Lacroix, Palmer and Torrado made up the bench.

Irish on Show! Colin Falvey looks on as Albert Watson and Éamon Zayed compete for the ball.

The semi final against FC Edmonton was as expected a very tight affair, the first half was a game of chess with no goals to show but from my own view of the game Indy Eleven definitely looking the most likely team to open the scoring. Jon Busch was seldom troubled in the match, in the first half he had to make one gather from a Dustin Correa shot in the 6th minute, and had Sainey Nyassi's 8th minute header been a few inches lower  Busch would have been beaten.

Matt Van Oekel had a a relatively busier time in both halves, before two minutes of the game being played Don Smart cut into center from the right and forced a diving save from the Edmonton keeper. Dylan Mares would be next to force Van Oekel into acrobatics after a fine strike from outside the 18 forced was stopped from hitting the left corner of the net at the expense of a corner. After a scramble in Edmonton's box in the 38th minute Marco Franco found himself in a rare position on the edge of the 6 to score but Van Oekel went long to fingertip the ball around the upright for a corner.

Colin Falvey took a head knock and a cut but played out the rest of the game bandaged.

The resulting corner saw a coming together of heads between Colin Falvey and Tomi Ameobi who had come back to help defend. After a delay of play captain Falvey who received a cut to the top of his head from the clash was bandaged up and returned to play shortly after Ameobi who also left the field. Both teams head into the break deadlocked at 0-0.

Indy Eleven started the second half again with the best chances, first from Don Smart in the 56th minute with a shot from the top of the D that was well wide and a few minutes later Justin Braun put a diving header in behind goal.

Indy Eleven finally broke the stalemate in the 63rd minute with a well place shot from Ubiparipović that took everyone including Matt Van Oekel by surprise. Dylan Mares played a through ball from the center of the field into Éamon Zayed, after a back and fore between Zayed and Mares, Dylan laid it back into the path of Siniša Ubiparipović and from just outside the 18 he placed a perfectly weighted ball into the top right corner of Edmonton's goal, Van Oekel saw it late and I think managed to get a finger tip to it, but it was ultimately unstoppable.

As tight as this game was, Indy always looked like scoring first, one goal was probably always going to be enough, even though it is not the most comfortable lead. With our attack having done it's job and found the opening it was up to our back line and of course our goalkeeper to make sure that lead was no lost.

Hankinson made a tactical switch in the 75th minute bringing on Gerardo Torrado for Indy's goalscorer Ubiparipović adding a more defensive element to the midfield alongside Ring, both players with an ability to add steel to the center and break down attacks. Duke Lacroix would also add fresh legs to the game in the 80th minute replacing Smart, Indy Eleven used only two of their available three substitutions.

In the 87th minute Tomi Ameobi had probably his best chance of the game after he met with a right side cross and headed down towards goal from close range. Jon Busch stepped up with probably the save of the game and got down low to his left to snuff out the striker's header and ensured Indy Eleven's safe passage into the 2016 NASL Soccer Bowl Final. Unlike the last game between these two there was no switching off or falling asleep. Indy were dialed in and on point for the entire 90 minutes plus stoppage and proved once again they are arguably the best team in the league.

Tim Hankinson thanks the supporters after winning Indy Eleven's first ever post season game.

The final whistle blew and Indy Eleven had won their first ever post season game in NASL and advanced to their first ever final. Having won the Spring Championship shield they now have an opportunity to win it all.

Tim Hankinson has been vocal about his goal from day one of setting foot in Indianapolis and he has backed up everything he has said about how this team will play, and how every other team will have to figure out how to stop them. It seems like a distant past where Indy Eleven turned around a 1-0 deficit to beat the New York Cosmos for the first time, that was the moment we knew we had something pretty special happening in Indy and now we are one win away from being Champions thanks to Tim Hankinson along with a great coaching staff and a highly experienced and determined group of players.

We may have to travel to New York to play in that final, but we will by no means be an underdog in this final. Indy Eleven is the team to beat, we will play our game and it will be up to the Cosmos to figure out how not to lose against us. At the beginning of 2016 all I wanted to see was a competitive team capable of making the post season. We have surpassed that and everything else is a bonus, we have the mental attitude and the technical ability to win it all, and I have a feeling we are going to do just that next Sunday. Enjoy it!

So we'll see you in New York next weekend, be there or be square..........

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