There is no man of the match. A team effort resulted in a team victory in one of the most exciting games ever played at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. An up and down night in the Circle City ended with three more points for the boys in blue. The score finally settle at 2-1 with the go-ahead goal in the 95th minute.
The home side was inspired and many had their best performance in this young season. The New York Cosmos took the field as NASL leaders in scoring and league points as well as having recorded clean sheets in their two previous contests.
Indy Eleven were aware but unfazed and midfielder Brad Ring had this to say before the game.
Ring has been with the Eleven since the beginning and has seen all 6 prior meetings end in a draw. Many of those meetings occurred with NYC as the better team and Indy steeling a point, but that was not the case on Saturday.
Indy were dominant from the opening kick. New York did not look like the NASL's best and the Eleven were swarming. The atmosphere and the energy around the stadium was fantastic. New York supporters, about two dozen strong, were loud but drowned out by the thousands in attendance in the west end with the Brickyard Battalion.
9,000 plus filled the stadium so it seems even the fans turn up for big games, but what was happening on field can't be forgotten.
Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson unveiled the 4-4-2 for the first time in 2016 in what appeared to be a stroke of genius. This move was made to compensate for a lack of attack in previous games as well as to better feature the talent available on the squad.
Sinisa Ubiparipovic was on the bench but wearing street clothes and the Columbian Jair Reinoso was out of town on family leave. More on Reinoso later, but Coach Hankinson had some honest thoughts (as usual) after the game.
This formation and pairing up top was so effective that it will be hard to go away from in the future. Questions were asked and answered by both strikers and both players were noticeably motivated.
Why did Hankinson really go with the 4-4-2?
Don't be too easily fooled by this candid but wily coach. He is manipulating his team and calculating their reactions. His job is to motivate players and get results. I don't really think its an accident that Indy is undefeated through 3 games. Ugly ties still count and winning at the death is still worth three points.
Jair Reinoso left Indianapolis this week to be with his wife who was giving birth. Complications prevented Reisnoso from returning in time and his availability for Saturday's game was always in question. The encouraging sign from Indy Eleven, as a team, is that Jair and his family were not forgotten on such a great night for the boys.
This match and this win were dedicated to the Reinoso family.
There were prayers before the game and a heartfelt goal celebration when Eamon Zayed buried his PK for the first time wearing Indy Eleven checkers. Without hesitation Zayed ran to the Indy bench to join his teammates where they all held up the number 24 jersey bearing Reinoso's name. Love. To. See. That.
For the win
A dramatic stoppage time goal is the stuff of legends. Once again The Brickyard Battalion found themselves demanding goals at the death and once again instilled belief in their team. Once again the home side pressed with everything they had and once again that wily coach tinkered with the backfield to send everything forward.
Holy Crap! Slow Down Hank! Teaching Moment Of The Game.
I can't wait to tell that to my U6 team on Wednesday.
Indy moves up the table with 5 total points and now head to their bye week. It's a good time for them to assess, to heal, to celebrate and to integrate. Omar Gordon will join soon. Reinoso needs to get back and Ubiparipovic needs to get to 100%.
In spite of the 2-1 scoreline, Indy is still struggling to find goals. Indy's first goal came from an arguable penalty call against New York in the 89th minute. Once again we have a hero and a villain, but this time in central defender Greg Janicki. He was responsible for both penalties. Indy conceded in the 51st to go down 0-1.
The storybook trend of scoring late cannot truthfully be counted on with any great regularity and this coach does not wish to have a counter-punching team. Defense has been great for Indy and it will be throughout the season, but opposing teams cannot be allowed to hang around and get chances or gain confidence.
The goal in the 95th minute was earned and it was quick. Dylan Mares' run into the box was rewarded by Braun's brave hold up play and one touch flick. Mares' one touch strike deserved a save but the ball wasn't cleared well enough to avoid Zayed's left foot. He only needed one touch from there.
Pandemonium ensued, smoke was flying, supporters were screaming and it seemed like the entire Eleven team was clamoring up the stands because you just want to be in the west end on game day.
Sorry East End. #NotSorry