Sunday, May 14, 2017

Indy Taste First Defeat in Miami: Miami FC v Indy Eleven REVIEW (5/13/2017)

Bizarre confusion surrounds the end of the game after only three of four stoppage minutes are played.

By: James Cormack

It wouldn't be a 2017 Indy Eleven game if we did not have some kind of new injury before the start. No sign of Eamon Zayed in the starting lineup or on the bench, contact in the previous match against Edmonton triggered a back injury, Craig Henderson also missing with possible hamstring. No immediate return to the starting lineup for Marco Franco either but he did make the bench along with the return of Don Smart and Ben Speas.

Indy's Starting XI
Indy Eleven lined up for the start with Jon Busch in goal, Lovel Palmer, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Colin Falvey and Daniel Keller across the back, Brandon Poltronieri, Gerardo Torrado, Tanner Thompson and Jason Plumhoff in midfield and David Goldsmith partnered Justin Braun up front in the absence of Zayed.

Miami FC had an injury of their own with Stefano Pinho missing, replaced by Jaime Chávez. Michael Lahoud was also unavailable for the home side.

Miami FC lined up with Vega, Bernstein, Freeman, Kcira, Trafford, Mares, Rezende, Ryan, Chávez, Poku and Renella.

Three Indy Eleven players made their starting debut, David Goldsmith, Brandon Poltronieri and Jason Plumhoff. Unfamiliar lineups are nothing new for Indy Eleven this year but in this match probably only 5 of the players on the field when the whistle blew would be considered part of a preferred starting eleven.

Indy prove mildly successful at damage limitation.....

Okay maybe that's a bit harsh. It could pretty much be guaranteed from the onset of this game that Miami FC were going to throw everything and several kitchen sinks at Indy Eleven from the onset. 

Barely a minute had passed in the game when Jon Busch was called upon to make a great save when Enzo Rennella unleashed a shot from outside Indy Eleven's box. Moments later Miami FC worked into a position to pass the ball across the face of goal leaving Busch stranded but Miami's attack couldn't arrive fast enough to push the ball into goal.

This was a pattern that would ensue for almost the entire first half, Miami FC working themselves into great positions and creating opportunities but failing on the final ball. Indy Eleven had to play spoiler and weather the storm for as long as they could. The first good look for Indy came in the 24th minute when David Goldsmith made room for himself to shoot from the center of the box and forced a fine fingertip save from Daniel Vega.

Miami FC continued to miss clear cut chances in the final third and as the half wore on and Miami appeared to be slowing down it looked like Indy Eleven would be able to go into half time still level. At this point in the game it is fair to say has Miami been more clinical in front of goal it could easily be 3-0 already.

Then a hammer blow was dealt in stoppage time of the first half. In the 46th minute of the game Enzo Rennella who had threatened the Indy goal multiple times already picked up on a ball from Poku and struck with his left foot at the top of the box and curled the ball past Jon Busch to give Miami a lead going into the break.

It can be demoralizing to let a goal in right at the half, when players and coaches are already preparing themselves to get to the break and plan for the second half, but Indy Eleven were not ready to roll over just yet.

Coach Hankinson appeared to use this game as an opportunity to bring players in his depleted roster up to match fitness. Brandon Poltronieri and Jason Plumhoff who had seen some good touches in the first half were replaced for the second 45 by Ben Speas and Anthony Manning, no doubt in an effort to gain fitness for the upcoming games against Michigan Bucks and Miami FC at home.

With only 10 minutes of the second half played and despite a considerable reshuffle in the Indy lineup, the Eleven found themselves level in the game again. Ben Speas delivered a corner from Miami's left and in an attempt to head clear Miami defender Hunter Freeman redirected the ball into the far side of his own net. The game was tied at 1-1 and I am sure many Indy Eleven fans watching would have loved the game to end at that point.

Indy Eleven's hopes faded in a flurry of activity from 60-65 minutes in the game, after spurning many chances in the game up until this point Miami FC found the net twice in the space of a few minutes. Dylan Mares broke some hearts by putting his team 2-1 ahead in the 61st minute. Setting up a one two with team mate Enzo Rennella, Lovel Palmer closed the pass down but it came back off the heel of Rennella and into the path of Mares who slammed the ball low past Jon Busch.

Only four minutes later Hunter Freeman the guilty party in Indy Eleven's equalizing goal played a cross that found Robert Kcira and his right footed shot from outside the box found the back of the net to give Miami a two goal lead in the game, it was a superb goal. It was also a crushing goal and at this point in the game you had to wonder just how bad it might get from this point.

Don Smart was another welcome sight returning to the field after several weeks out, he entered in the 72nd minute to replace David Goldsmith. Indy looked for more width to try and press Miami, there was little point in trying to be defensive in a game that looked already lost.

Smart was instrumental in helping the Boys in Blue pull another goal back in the game. In the 83rd minute the usual trickery from Don deep in the corner allowed hi to split two defenders and send a low pass in front of goal, one that looked a little too easy to gather. A complete breakdown in communication between keeper Vega and his defense allowed the ball to roll on past everyone and Justin Braun slotted home to reduce the deficit to only one goal.

The second goal offered a glimmer of hope for Indy and they never gave up on finding the equalizer right until the final whistle when Tanner Thompson worked well inside the Miami box but his final shot on goal was blocked and the game was over. Indy Eleven received their first taste of defeat in 2017 at the hands of league leaders Miami FC.

Well we thought it was finished, in one of the most bizarre moments I have seen in a game, both sides complained to the referee that he had stopped the game one minute before the allocated four minutes of stoppage time and after some back and forth the game was restarted for one minute. The score remained the same, credit to Alessandro Nesta, his team had already won but he seemed hell bent on getting that minute played and he pulled it off.

Where do we go from here?

There is an old saying that until you can never really be a winner until you have tasted defeat. The season to date has been a struggle for Indy Eleven that goes without saying, they have fought well to earn every point they have, but there is a breaking point. I think it was Éamon Zayed who was quoted last year as saying "it is how you react to defeat that defines you as a player and as a team".

The best way to remove that bitter taste is to move on and win. Indy despite their injury issues have had opportunities to give new players and returning players game time with the aim of bringing all players up to match fitness and this will pay off in the long run. In the coming weeks with a little luck we may be in an enviable position of having too many players to choose from. It still is very difficult to be disappointed with this team.

It may seem puzzling to some to see two substitutes being used at half time in the game, all games are important, but as I mentioned in a preview for this match, it is probably the least critical of the three we have to play this week. Hankinson has used this game to give Plumhoff, Poltronieri, Goldsmith, Manning, Speas and Don Smart valuable game time.

The midweek game against Michigan Bucks in the US Open Cup I am sure will not be taken lightly, but again it offers us further opportunity to bring fitness back to multiple players within the roster. By the time May 20th and the home tie against Miami FC rolls around, our opposition will no doubt see a much changed side from the one they have just defeated. Indy Eleven need a first home win, and also have an unbeaten home record to protect. If you want to answer critics, you may as well do it against the toughest opponent you can find.


  1. Busch, Falvey, Torrado, Thompson, Braun. Sounds about right. Will be interested to see what these new wingers bring.

    1. Tanner is pound for pound the best young signing we have made but if referring to five starters of preferred XI i probably would have said Busch, Falvey, Palmer, Torrado, Braun but I might change my mind ;)