|The strike pairing of Braun and Zayed combine again for Indy's goal.|
By: James Cormack
It was another week of juggling for Tim Hankinson as Indy suffered more injury woes in the lead up to this match against Jacksonville Armada. A kidney contusion to Nemanja Vukovic that could see him out for a month forced another rejig of the Indy Eleven back line.
Daniel Keller came into the starting lineup in the left back position alongside Colin Falvey, Lovel Palmer and Marco Franco, making his third start in 2017. With the continuing absence of Speas and Smart, Siniša Ubiparipović come into midfield alongside Craig Henderson, Brad Ring and Gerardo Torrado. The familiar pairing of Éamon Zayed and Justin Braun started up top with Jon Busch in goal.
Indy Eleven's injury list is worryingly increasing and as a result Hankinson could only supply a bench of five players, two of them goalkeepers in Keith Cardona and Christian Lomeli. David Goldsmith, Tanner Thompson and Kwame Watson-Siriboe were the only available outfield players.
With Jacksonville having a decent start to the season and sitting top, it was not the ideal situation to be in for Indy with a depleted roster and being on the road, I am sure most would have quite happily settled for a point before this game kicked off.
|Nemanja Vukovic suffered a Kidney injury against San Francisco in game four.|
We're still a tough act to beat...
In similar fashion to the last game against SF Deltas, despite missing players and having some play in positions they are not over familiar with Indy Eleven still looked like a team on the same page. Yes there was a few giveaways in the game but on the whole our passing was smart, we defended well in all areas of the field and managed to create enough chances in the game to take all three points.
Jacksonville also were well organized, and at times the game became a little chess like, neither side really forcing the play too much and both teams frugal while in possession and organized when defending.
Indy Eleven's first good look came in a linkup between Ubiparipović and Justin Braun in the 8th minute but Braun couldn't convert. Brad Ring also had a good chance from a corner in the 13th minute unleashing a fierce shot from a knockdown but there were just too many blue shirts in the way.
Midway through the first half Indy Eleven looked the more settled team, methodical and probing at Jacksonville. Their patience paid off first with a great interchange with one of the leagues best striker partnerships. A great piece of vision from Éamon Zayed in the 25th minute led to him putting Justin Braun through onside against JAX keeper Patterson-Sewell.
Zayed picked up the ball in a central position about 30yrds from goal, with a quick look he saw Braun available out wide and slotted the ball through the middle of the Armada back line allowing Braun to slip the defense. Patterson-Sewell came out to meet but Braun's foot got their first and took the ball around the keeper and comfortably pushed the ball home to put Indy Eleven in the lead.
Unfortunately for Indy Eleven that lead was short lived. After a tackle from Daniel Keller was judged to be a little harsh Jacksonville picked up a free kick deep on Indy's left side. Jack Blake sent in a ball towards the back side of Indy's 6 yard box. Eleven failed to get a body goalside of the attack fast enough and Jonathan Glenn powered a header past Busch for his first goal of the 2017 season.
The second half continued with both sides level and both playing patiently without forcing the game too much. In the 48th minute Zayed almost sent in Justin Braun once again but the ball was moving too fast for the Indy forward.
Minutes later Indy Eleven almost took the lead again through an accidental shot on target. A looping cross from Craig Henderson on the right found the head of an Armada defender and his attempted clearance cannoned of the head of Ubiparipović and popped into the air heading for the net. Patterson-Sewell had to show some acrobatics and barely managed to tip the ball over the bar.
With around 20 minutes of the second half gone Jacksonville mad their first two substitutions to try and throw some pace at an Indy Eleven side who appeared to be tiring. Jemal Johnson and Derek Gebhard came in for Zach Steinberger and goal scorer Jonathon Glenn. From this point in the game things got a little more frenetic for Indy and we clearly looked weary.
With only three outfield players on the bench for Indy, Tim Hankinson was a little more sparing with his substitutions, with the game still tied Indy Eleven could afford not to force the game but they were being made to chase more and legs were tiring.
Tanner Thompson came in for Craig Henderson in the 67th minute but it would be a further 10 minutes or more before Indy would call on the reserves again, and this time it was forced. Brad Ring went down hard and had to be removed from the game and Kwame Watson-Siriboe entered to give Indy a little more security at the back.
Credit has to be given to Siniša Ubiparipovic for playing as many minutes as he did, I am sure he may have wished to be that second player coming out but circumstances saw him play on until the 87th minute before making way for debutante and former Butler striker David Goldsmith. It was smart thinking from Hankinson to delay the third sub so long, Indy were not trailing so there was no need to push.
As the second half wound to a finish either team still looked capable of finding a winning goal but it never came. It was a pretty evenly matched contest and the draw was a fair result, perhaps more upsetting for Armada than it was for the Eleven and it also should be noted that despite our current issues we not lost any of our road games so far.
We need a silver lining for our cloud....
Surely we can't have any more bad luck, it's going to be a nervous week for Indy Eleven as they look over all the bumps and bruises, any further injury issues could cause major problems in the next few games which includes back to back matches against Miami FC and an early USOC game.
Brad Ring took a hard knock and had to come off, hopefully not serious. Gerardo Torrado did not come out of the game but he did come down very hard on his hip and hopefully its not one of those knocks that become more apparent the next day.
It is likely we will see a similar makeshift lineup against FC Edmonton when Indy Eleven return home next Saturday and we will face a team who really need a good result to kick start their season. Self belief and good teamwork will again be important for Indy while we ride this rough patch of unfortunate absences.
There is however a lot to be positive about, despite our misfortunes we have a team who still play hard for each other and are very difficult to beat. For every player missing it means another player gets game time and this can bring advantage to us later in the season.
Jacksonville have caused problems for both FC Edmonton and New York Cosmos and are sitting top of the table, but could not beat a depleted and injury ridden Indy Eleven squad in their own house. This says a lot for the grit and determination of the players we do have available. When the times comes that our roster is fit and healthy and all are available, other teams in this league are going to suffer at our hands.
For now I'd like to see all our players wrap up in cotton wool this week, outside of training can you just all remain seated and definitely don't attempt anything along the lines of skateboarding or downhill skiing!