|One of these teams was organized and ready to win and one of them was not.|
By: James Cormack
Football matches are often decided by odd numbers if you score one more goal than your opponent you win if you score the same amount you draw. The odd number was 1 in this match and that was the goal on the scoreboard for Brilla FC notched by Koray Easterling. The oddest number really though is the '0' which is creeping closer to being a familiar suffix applied to Indy Eleven.
For 80 minutes Brilla FC and Indy were tied up at 0-0 with Indy pushing hard for the winning goal. After a long ball counter and a foul on Brilla that stopped play for a few minutes due to an altercation between opposing players, Brilla capitalized off the set piece on the restart to put themselves in the lead and held on to it through stoppage time. Brilla FC will now play USL's Nashville SC in the third round of USOC 2018.
FT - Mississippi Brilla FC 1 (Easterling 81') Indy Eleven 0
Before making any complaints about Indy Eleven's unceremonious exit from USOC 2018 it should be noted that Brilla deserves credit for coming out and punching above their weight and pulling off a victory. Mississippi Brilla FC became the first team from their state to reach the third round of a US Open Cup. This is a big deal for them, and they achieved it because they believed in themselves, didn't give up and took their chance when they had it.
.@msbrillafc of @USLPDL are the first team from Mississippi to ever reach an @opencup Third Round - think they're psyched about it? 👊#USOC2018 pic.twitter.com/akzDTQyypc— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 17, 2018
For much of the game, Indy Eleven controlled possession, outpassed their opponents, possibly wore them out a little or a lot and looked like they were just biding their time before delivering a knockout punch. What actually happened was a team who are still having difficulty finding that connection between midfield and attack, passed the ball around with little urgency and still looked unsure what to do with it where it counts.
Despite having the ball at their feet for less of the game than Indy did, Brilla showed energy and urgency when they had the chance, they tried to make things happen and you could see the determination of a team who really wants to do something big, they wanted to succeed and progress in the tournament and give the local supporters a night they won't forget.
Brilla probably expected to be up against it, they probably knew they would have to give up the possession stats and have to defend a lot, and they knew that any chances they do get in the game they have to make them count, and they did. They prepared.
Indy Eleven also gave their supporters a night they won't easily forget. In what could have been an opportunity to exorcise the demons of a cup exit to Michigan Bucks in 2017, our team just gave us a new US Open Cup low to contemplate.
In League play, Indy has scored 7 goals in 9 games, only three have really come from open play the rest either from drawing a foul or penalty or being gifted the ball in a scoring position by our opponents. It is an issue, in league play other results can fall your way but in tournament play, you don't get second chances.
Where I can be realistic and look at the situation up until now as an overhauled squad still trying to find their way in a new league who sit three points from the table top in USL East despite the aforementioned failings, when the same issues arise against teams at D4 level then you have to wonder if the problem is a little deeper than we might realize.
The result is embarrassing not because of who we were defeated by, that would be an insult and a discredit to the PDL and Mississippi Brilla FC. It was embarrassing because as a team we didn't look like we went there to win it. Even if it were the case that neither Martin Rennie or Ersal Ozdemir has any interest in the Open Cup or adding more fixtures to an already hectic schedule, the players are professional players and when you step on the field you step on wanting to win or not at all. Also as a coach, these results are ultimately what defines you as a success or a failure.
We have three coaches... I would assume and have no reason to believe otherwise that they have meetings and discuss how to correct the issues we have scoring goals and creating goal scoring opportunities.
If we cannot assume that we have what it takes to move on in the Open Cup past a PDL side then we also cannot assume we will score goals and win games over MLS reserve sides and that is what we face now with back to back fixtures against Bethlehem Steel and Red Bulls II. Let's hope our coaching staff and players can now pick themselves up and prove us wrong.
Many congratulations to Mississippi Brilla FC, I hope you enjoy another great night next week and attract even more attention and support for your team.
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