|Don Smart waits and prepares to open the scoring for Indy Eleven from the penalty spot|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven felt they had a point to prove after Tuesdays 1-1 draw with the Cosmos in New York. As intimated by Coach Hankinson and Colin Falvey in the post match interviews (see foot of page for audio) he and the players felt they were robbed of a third consecutive win after Emmanuel Ledesma blatantly simulated a foul for a penalty late in that match and denying Indy a 1-0 victory on Independence Day.
The Boys in Blue fielded the same starting lineup for the fourth consecutive match, and in this return game in the series with New York it was Indy who were given favor at the penalty spot early in the game. In the 15th minute the Cosmos were penalized for holding on Justin Braun? Who cares, at least we don't dive. Don Smart was given the opportunity to convert from the spot and he did so successfully giving Indy Eleven a 1-0 lead.
The Cosmos replied to the opener some ten minutes later through the aforementioned Ledesma. A little bit of a nosebleed at the back for Indy Eleven failing to get bodies in front of a rifling shot from the top of the 18 yard box that was unreachable by Jon Busch. The game was tied up at 1-1 before the half hour mark.
|Jimmy Maurer and his defense left helpless after Justin Braun's game winning goal.|
Justin Braun continues to thrive and improve as a player every time he steps onto the field, even during a little position jostling last night he worked tirelessly and aggressively throughout the match and was not about to let the Cosmos spoil the teams evening in front of their own fans.
From the corner spot in the 75th minute Nemanja Vukovic sent over a great ball towards the far post and Braun managed to throw off his defender and find position to head the ball past Jimmy Maurer and restore a lead for Indy Eleven that they would carry successfully to the final whistle. Justin leads the scoring for the Boys in Blue with seven goals and also leads on assists.
With a stable consistent starting lineup for Indy Eleven they have now taken 10pts from a possible 12 in their last four games with back to back wins over North Carolina and a win and a draw over New York. Injury woes are mostly behind us and the combination of starting players returning and a humiliating loss to Jacksonville on June 10th appear to be the catalyst that the team needed to get back in the saddle. Momentum and confidence is building and with it comes results.
The Spring season is over, while Indy Eleven nicked another three points at home Miami FC gave San Francisco a solid 7-0 thrashing in Florida to win their first NASL silverware in their second year. Indy finished spring 16pts behind the leaders and from here on in it is all about the fall season and combined standings as we push for a playoff spot, that is our focus now and despite our poorest start to a year since 2014 we look like a team that can cause problems for any team in this league.
|Indy Eleven's leading goalscorer giving challenge to NYC's Ryan Richter|
Next up for Indy Eleven is another home game and a chance to make up valuable ground in the playoff race against Jacksonville Armada. As mentioned previously the last time these two teams met the 4-1 defeat at home for the Eleven was humiliating and soul destroying, it was our all time low in 2017. This sets another target for our rejuvenated squad and another chance to restore pride against a team we know we are better than and a team that are still above us in the standings.
The race for the playoffs now will be all about keeping the teams below us where they are and pulling ourselves above the teams that lay ahead of us in the standings. There is no guarantee that we will remain injury free for the rest of the year, but the silver lining from a poor start to the season has been the game time and experience our squad players have achieved. This could prove invaluable as the season progresses.