|Zach at the double!|
Indy Eleven fans had three very good reasons to be cheerful on Saturday. Not only did we win by three very good goals, we kept a clean sheet, played a great game and our team worked together like a team. These are nights to remember. When we figure out how to do this more often, we'll be in good shape!
Indy started the game with a pretty interesting lineup, call it what you like we didn't start with a recognized forward, even though Richards has been scoring goals, he is an attacking midfielder. Our strongest and more familiar back line of Franco, Norales, Miller and Hyland started in front of Keith Cardona making his second consecutive appearance. In front of our back four we played 6 midfield players.
Zach Steinberger moved up into a more forward role with Dane Richards, and across the midfield we had Pineda, Ring, Keller, and Smart. The center being more defensive minded with a combination of good technical ability and speed on the flanks. It is not what I expected, but knowing how Jacksonville love to attack by flooding the midfield going forward, it worked very very effectively.
The other dimension this gave for Indy was some great midfield strength on the bench including a welcome return for Dylan Mares, add to that Stojkov and Ceballos. We were slim on defense though with only Janicki on the bench and no cover for the full back positions, luckily for us Kyle Hyland has a metal head.
The game had a pretty physical edge to it, luckily there were no victims. Kyle Hyland took an elbow to the face and lost a few spoonfuls of blood and Dane Richards had a pretty strong body blow as well.
Indy Eleven were not willing to give up on anything, any time they lost possession or a ball spilled loose there was someone there willing to throw their body on the line to get the ball back, Indy played with a lot of heart in this game. I think this frustrated Jacksonville and caused some of the unnecessary roughness throughout the game.
Jacksonville may have got the better share of possession in the first half, but Indy certainly made much more with their share and looked the more determined side. That dogged determination was evident with Victor Pineda when he started the set up for our first goal. He made some great turns and could have been pressured off the ball but instead carved his own area and played a great through ball towards the attack.
I am sure we could all watch the replay a million times and never agree on who was onside or offside, I think all of our players were onside when the ball was released, but regardless if Zach was or wasn't, he did not play the ball first and left it for Don Smart, allowing for a two on one situation with goalkeeper Sierra. There was only going to be one outcome after Don laid the ball off to Steinberger who calmly side footed the ball into the net. An early 1-0 lead for Indy in the 9th minute.
Indy started to create more chances and this pattern continued into the second half. Cardona had very little to do in the Indy goal for the first 45 minutes. Indy had seven attempts on goal to Jacksonville's one making it clearly evident we were by far the more productive side. However only one hit the net making the score 1-0 in Indy's favor going in at half time.
I think it is fair to say that Zach Steinberger had a huge influence on the result of this game, early in the second half a sliding tackle in the 47th minute to retrieve possession and start yet another attack was typical of his determination to not to give up on anything in this game. The rest of the team played with the same attitude.
Shortly afterwards Dane Richards with his third or fourth attempt on goal was again thwarted by Sierra. Dane could have easily got himself a hat trick in this game but it wasn't to be, the fact that we were continuing to get into great positions was clearly unsettling for Jacksonville who at no time were allowed to come in to this match.
Right on the 51st minute Keith Cardona was called into action for the first time under real pressure to protect his net and he did so with a save typical of those we saw against Minnesota on Wednesday. Keith was at full stretch to tip away a shot from Marcos Flores that was destined to dip under the bar otherwise. Cardona did everything expected of him on the night and was rewarded with a clean sheet.
It would be a further 22 minutes before the home crowd would see another goal and it would be Indy again to double their lead. Dane Richards had been a complete headache for the Jacksonville defense all night and he has to be given great credit for his performance in this game despite not getting himself on the score sheet.
A defensive clearance from Hyland at the back went high in on the Jacksonville center back who failed to control it quickly enough, Dane Richards was right there ready to snap at his heels and gather the ball. Dane controlled the ball and slotted it inside to the advancing Smart who picked out Steinberger by passing between the backs and away from the keeper into the 18. Zach picked the ball up and chipped it over the head of Sierra then ran around to follow it up and make sure it made it's way home. A great goal.
Indy put themselves in a comfortable position now, with the lack of goal threat from JAX this game was won, but it certainly wasn't over. If Steinberger was Superb with a capital S and Richards was Trouble with a capital T, then Marvin Ceballos was WOW with a capital WOW (yeah I made that up myself).
Having secured the insurance goal and pretty much won the game Indy had the luxury of bringing on fresh legs to make sure we had enough gas to get through the remaining time. Dragan Stojkov would be the first to enter replacing Pineda who had put in a great shift. Dane Richards would make way for Marvin Ceballos a few minutes later and in the last few minutes Indy fans gave the returning Dylan Mares a rousing welcome as he replaced Daniel Keller.
And also credit for Tim Regan for getting better than the best out of some of his players, Don Smart played with a lot of grit and determination in the previous defeat to Minnesota, this Saturday he played a full 90 minutes, not something you see every week.
Marvin Ceballos provided the WOW moment of the game in front of the west end in the first minute of stoppage time, and literally used the whole Jacksonville half and made it his own. Picking up a short pass from Stojkov just inside the opposition half on the left side he took the ball directly to the Armada defense. A couple yards back off the 18 he unleashed a ripping shot that curled into the top left side of goal, no goalkeeper was going to stop that.
It was the icing on the cake for Indy Eleven as they romped to a 3-0 home victory. This game was enough evidence to any Indy Eleven supporter that we are a much better team than we show ourselves to be at times. When the time comes where we can achieve some consistency and play like this week in and week out, we will be a championship contender. Every player regardless of their minutes on the field gave absolutely everything.
We pretty much shut Jacksonville out of the game by completely bossing the midfield. Our defense and goalkeeper had much less work to do because of this, and the payoff from this is we have a team that looks less tired over the 90 minutes, we didn't have to chase, we gave the ball away much less and the end result is much more freshness in the final third of the game. More often than not by 60 minutes in we are out of puff from chasing the ball. Not tonight!!
Excellent performance all round, you can't ask for more than that other than please do it again next week, and the week after that ;)
Bloody Shambles MVP: It has to go to Zach Steinberger, I think even if he had only scored one goal he still would have got it, so many contenders though in one of the best performances I have seen since the franchise began. The combination of two goals and a dogged determination to never give up on any ball makes him man of the match for me. Dane Richards was an absolute nightmare for JAX and had a great 90, Kyle Hyland was a beast and they couldn't even knock him out of the game. Pat on the back for Don Smart as well for playing 90 minutes ;)
WELL DONE INDY!!!