Indy still hasn’t won. On the other hand, they broke a four-game losing streak and got a hard-fought point on the road against a title contender.
It wasn’t a cure for all that ails the Eleven, but it was a good step forward. Meanwhile, other results around the league keep the Spring title race wide open. It’s somewhat satisfying that Indy have affected the title race by stealing points on the road from a top team.
It’s a start.
New York Cosmos 1-1 Indy Eleven
Encouraging signs from the boys in blue.[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPronczJ2is%5D
The game started on an unfortunately familiar note, with a quick defensive lapse. Cosmos were ahead at 4′ thanks to Brad Guenzatti finishing off a Mads Stokkelien pass. With Indy playing one of the top NASL teams, going down by a goal so early was discouraging, and it left fans wondering if we’d see another grim road loss.
However, Indy stood strong, and in particular were better organized and more tenacious defensively. Cosmos may have been complacent, too. But Brad Ring stepped up to punish the home side at 76′, robbing Marcos Senna and driving in an excellent goal from the right. It was a well-deserved goal, and illustrated why Indy have yet to be shut out all year.
11thHeaven gets in a great tactical analysis of the game. What I’d add is that I think the team spent longer stretches of the game looking it they were playing with purpose and organization, rather than struggling to assert their will. It was by no means perfect, but it was as solid a performance as we’ve seen so far.
The Eleven will still be desperate for that first win, but this was a clear step in the right direction. Going on the road to draw at a top teams’ venue is a good accomplishment for a bottom-half team, and Indy can have a lot of pride in their accomplishment. We’ll see next whether they can build on the achievement. Indy will host the Dayton Dutch Lions of USL Pro on Wednesday, and will follow that with a home match against San Antonio on Saturday. Hopefully the team will build on this performance and get results both Wednesday and Saturday.
Plenty of action this week, and in particular two very exciting games with teams challenging for the title. New York wasn’t the only team to suffer a late disappointment.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-2 Fort Lauderdale Strikers[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnwu-GwhoXo%5D
In an entertaining and dramatic match, Tampa Bay fought back from 0-2 down to get a 3-2 win over ten-man Fort Lauderdale in the Florida Derby at Al Lang Stadium. Mark Anderson and Shawn Chin got the early goals for the Strikers, who led 0-2 by 34′, despite plenty of chances for Tampa Bay. The Rowdies also saw a penalty kick saved at 36′ when Georgi Hristov’s shot was saved by Oka Nikolov.
However, the game changed at 41′ when Carlos Salazar saw a second yellow and was sent off. With ten men, Fort Lauderdale faced wave after wave of Tampa Bay attacks, and defender Willie Hunt pulled the first goal back at 45′ with a towering header off Hristov’s corner kick. Anthony Wallace got the equalizer on a 30-yard rocket at 62′, and Blake Wagner created a great finish to win the match in stoppage time.
The exciting match also had serious Spring title implications, as Fort Lauderdale’s loss saw them fall behind Minnesota and New York despite both teams drawing. San Antonio also passed the Strikers with their win. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay rise to sixth on nine points.
Ottawa Fury 2-3 San Antonio Scorpions[youtube:tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fv7bFP2gv4]
In another exciting match — though a disappointment for the home crowd — Ottawa fought back from 0-1 down against San Antonio, only to concede two late goals to lose the match 2-3. The scoreless first half belied the fireworks of the second.
San Antonio opened the scoring from a Danny Barrera corner kick at 57′. Greg Janicki rose highest and finished well with a header at the far post to open the scoring. Ottawa got their revenge at 70′, when Tony Donatelli coolly finished the penalty to even the score. Ottawa wasn’t done, and took the lead just ten minutes later. Sinisa Ubiparipovic finished with a slick curled shot to the far post after a backheel from Donatelli to give the home side the lead at 80′.
The Scorpions came storming back, and a tangle in the penalty area saw a PK awarded to the visitors at 83′. Eric Hassli finished well to even the score. The winner came four minutes into extra time, when Ottawa were unable to clear a San Antonio corner. Hassli sent a cross-shot back in, and Tomasz Zahorski put a header on it to get San Antonio’s third goal and break the Fury’s hearts.
San Antonio continues their late rise up the table, moving into third with 13 points, just behind New York on goal differential. Meanwhile Ottawa remain moored in 8th, just ahead of Edmonton and Indy.
Minnesota United FC 0-0 Carolina RailHawks[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb9h4ubeFg4%5D
Minnesota couldn’t take advantage of their challengers’ slips, as they were unable to score in a 0-0 home draw with Carolina. The RailHawks faced plenty of pressure from United, and GK Akira Fitzgerald was named Player of the Week for his numerous crucial saves.
The disappointment was further compounded for Minnesota by injuries for Tiago Calvano and GK Matt van Oekel, and later for straight red cards shown to Cristiano Dias and Omar Daley at 86′ and 90′. With multiple players potentially missing for the weekend’s game against Atlanta, United might have a challenge to maintain their lead in the league. Carolina stay mid-table in fifth on 11 points, 5 behind the lead.
FC Edmonton 1-2 Atlanta Silverbacks[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOkvvbKBHok%5D
The final game of the night saw Atlanta get a 1-2 away win in Edmonton. Atlanta scored first at 49′ when Jamie Chavez collected the deflection from a Kwadwo Poku shot and put it home. Edmonton equalized at 75′, when Horace James scored on a clever backheeled flick from a floated free kick. But Atlanta scored the winner at 80′ when Poku held off the Edmonton back line on his own and put his open 10-yard shot home.
Edmonton have only Indy keeping them off the bottom of the table, while Atlanta stay seventh on nine points, behind Tampa Bay by four goals in differential.
Tale of the Table
|1||Minnesota United FC||7||5||1||1||6||16|
|2||New York Cosmos||7||4||1||2||7||13|
|3||San Antonio Scorpions||7||4||1||2||3||13|
|4||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||7||4||0||3||3||12|
|6||Tampa Bay Rowdies||7||2||3||2||-3||9|
|8||Ottawa Fury FC||7||2||1||4||1||7|
Minnesota pass up the chance to widen their lead atop the table, but Indy’s draw with New York (plus Tampa Bay’s win over Fort Lauderdale) allow United to retain top spot and to maintain a three-point lead with only two games left. Cosmos and San Antonio stay within touching distance of the leaders, while Fort Lauderdale and Carolina fall out of the Spring title chase.
The bottom half of the table sees Tampa Bay and Atlanta pick up some key points, while Ottawa and Edmonton both lose to fall further behind. Indy stay bottom as honorary members of the Canadian club, though the point against New York put the Eleven in range to pass Edmonton next week.
The NASL teams all have US Open Cup matches tomorrow, which I hope to preview if I can find some free time. But the league matches resume on Saturday, almost all at 7:30 Eastern time:
Saturday 31 May
- Ottawa Fury FC vs FC Edmonton (7:00PM EDT)
- Indy Eleven vs San Antonio Scorpions (7:30PM EDT)
- Carolina RailHawks vs Tampa Bay Rowdies (7:30PM EDT)
- Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs New York Cosmos (7:30PM EDT)
- Atlanta Silverbacks vs Minnesota United FC (7:30PM EDT)
Minnesota will travel to Atlanta in their attempt to keep the league lead, while challengers New York and San Antonio travel to Fort Lauderdale and Indy, respectively. Atlanta haven’t been terribly impressive, though Minnesota might be short-handed with suspensions and injuries. San Antonio probably have the easier task with the visit to Indy, while Cosmos will have a real challenge with a Strikers team that’s still in the hunt.
The two other games, Ottawa-Edmonton and Carolina-Tampa Bay, won’t have title implications, but will be hard fought regardless, especially the latest edition of the Canadian rivalry.
Indy will have a tough task against a motivated San Antonio team, but hopefully the Eleven can continue the gritty performance they showed on Long Island last weekend. Come on you Eleven!