A tie was good enough on Saturday. As far as the standings are concerned, Indy Eleven still gained ground on first place. League results were favorable and Indy remain unbeaten through their first five league matches in 2016. Indy faced off against FC Edmonton and came away relatively unscathed at the Spring's halfway point.
The teams scored one apiece in the opening frame and Indy never trailed in this one. The home side struck first for the second game in a row and a defender is once again the hero on the day.
You've read the recaps by now. How did you feel after 90?
This 1-1 scoreline left something to be desired in terms of comfort and reassurances for the upcoming games. The schedule has been kind to Indy. The Eddies were tired and homesick. Indy was riding a two game win streak and playing for the best fans in all of the NASL, but they got bullied. They got rattled and disoriented. Indy didn't play their game.
Edmonton did. The Canadians are tough. They are physical and they know their identity. They are similar to Indy in that they are comfortable in defense and that they keep everything in front. They are similar in that they came into Carroll Stadium on a two game win streak of their own. The difference is that Edmonton will be pleased to take one extra point back across the border having earned a total of 4 points during a pretty rough stretch of their season.
Edmonton were on the road in Jacksonville and earned three points just three days prior.
There were times when Indy looked like the better team and there were times when Indy had a chance to step on the throat of the Eddies hopes. This feels disappointing because of missed chances and two dropped points. The Indy Eleven did not impose their will on the visitors as they had against New York Cosmos. They gave up possession to a team that is used to giving up possession and they just weren't as tough.
The referees are not to blame for the excessive force used by opponents. Play to the whistle and rise to the challenge. There is no question that a PK could have been called when Watson pushed Justin Braun down after his missed opportunity in the box. There is no question that Sinisa Ubiparipovic was leveled early by a reckless challenge that should have drawn a yellow. Omar Gordon was undercut and dropped to his back during an aerial duel, but where was the response?
The boys might have been lucky to escape with the point they got. It was not a clean ending to a cool night in Indianapolis. Defenders and goalkeepers stepped up and made big plays, but last ditch slide tackles and John Busch making saves in the dying minutes doesn't make me warm and fuzzy.
Truthfully, the players, coaches, defenders and forwards alike all know that the contest was not well in hand and results could have swung the other way. This disappointing tie could have just as easily been a disappointing loss. Missed opportunities cost Indy the win, and almost cost them the game.
"Look at the opportunity Justin had. It should have been 2-1 on the scoreboard. It was the creation of a great chance and it just wasn't a finish that should have come from him. But those kind of chances, we need to create more of." - Coach Hankinson
To be a fan of this team is to know a historical disappointment, and the fans aren't going anywhere in spite of it. The Brickyard Battalion fight to the end in every match and there have been times this season when those on the field did too. Swarming and aggressive pressure was rewarded against both Ottawa and NYC. The home team was throwing everything forward in those matches. Indy was first to the ball.
This is a different kind of disappointment and one we are not used to in the circle city. An upgraded and undefeated team sets a new standard of success. While accumulating points and making the postseason is the ultimate goal, a win here was within reach at times and would have placed the Eleven firmly in the conversation for the leagues top tier.
The Eleven suit up every week with hopes of winning and its not too much to hold them to that standard. These are captains and champions and veterans and they know what it takes. Not only do they know they didn't do enough, but they know how quickly momentum can shift.
"You have expectations for yourself to get 3...A 3 point victory would have jumped Minnesota into the second place slot and we missed that opportunity. Thats something hopefully, we will not have to look back at as the end the Spring." -Hankinson
A lesson can be learned here and a team can be stronger for it. Pick your head up. Support your teammates. Get in the fight. Take 3 points.
This is a long season but the Spring has been referred to as a sprint. Stumbles and missteps can happen, but they cannot be regular occurrences. This is a fantastic time in Indy Eleven history where we can be disappointed by an undefeated team. A team that scores first. A team that scores late but also a team that defends late.
Still, the team isn't yet firing on all cylinders. The same fitness and form that plagued Indy through preseason is still present after week 6. Injuries cannot be helped but they sure are frustrating and a good portion of the attacking woes stem from the fact that Indy required three midfield subs on Saturday.
"...The preseason was bad and we had a lot of injuries. We didn't even have Sinisa in the preseason. We didn't have Jair or Omar...That part of our game is still catching up and it's going to take probably another 2-3 weeks to be ready to really present ourselves as the team we expect to be."
New faces bring chemistry and timing issues but we have been hearing that song for a few years now in this town. It's not an excuse that I am willing to give credence to. Make the run. Find the pass. Defend all areas of the pitch.
I don't care if it's a 4-4-2 or a modified 4-3-2-1 or if Vukovic is paired with Zayed. Find the space. Don't quit on the play.
It's a simple cheer and it's catchy, but it's not a joke anymore...They sang it on Saturday and it was heard throughout the stadium.
"We want three. We want three."
This team has the heart and the tools...And you know damn well they can do it!
"We have big games ahead... We finish with Carolina-The first place team at home-so we just have to keep building points. We will look at ourselves and say...we are undefeated-The only team in the league-and as long as we keep moving in that direction whether it's 3 or 1. Those are positive things to look forward to."- Hank
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