This is sarcasm of course. The Indy Eleven are always up for a big match at Carroll Stadium. They are undefeated at The Mike and they are a remarkable 13-1-0 while wearing the full blueberry kit. I am counting victories over Pachuca and Louisville City in that stat. Perhaps the surprise comes from the 3-0 bare-bottom spanking the Boys in Blue just gave the league leading New York Cosmos in front of 9,000 plus.
It's no surprise that unselfish play propelled Indy to victory. Eamon Zayed fed Justin Braun for the games opener in the 32nd minute but the hockey assist goes to Don Smart. Don't forget to mention Cory Miller though. He unlocked the defense by launching a perfectly weighted 50 yard switch to Smart who was streaking down the right flank. On that play, 4 completed passes circled almost the entire pitch and the Cosmos were chasing the whole time.
That goal surprised the Cosmos in the same way the whack-a-mole surprises 5 year olds.
It's no surprise that Dylan Mares registered his assist for Zayed's 13th on the year. Mares is Indy's all-time assist leader and Mr. Hat Trick is Indy's all-time goal scorer. Unselfish team play again confounded New York in the 48th minute and it's not surprise that Big Z shed his defender and finished a tap in with his right foot. That's literally the least surprising thing that happened all night.
Maybe it's surprising that the Cosmos don't know where Zayed is going to be in that moment.
It's no surprise that Mares earned his own tally with heart and in the 51st. Capitalizing on a New York turnover, Mares and Braun pressed the sprint button and executed a give-and-go to perfection. It's not surprising that Mares' first touch set up his shot just outside the 18 yard line and it's not surprising Dylan felt he was open.
The shot did surprise the Cosmos' goal keeper Jimmy Maurer. He wasn't to blame for the first two, but he was beaten soundly by the Indiana hero for the third.
Indy Eleven now have an even 40 goals on the year. They are the second most dangerous team in the NASL behind only the New York Cosmos who have 45 tallies. New York and Indy now sit in first and second position on the combined table with six regular season matches to play in 2016. Both of these teams are juggernauts at home. They combine for 23-5-0 in their respective stadiums. It's no surprise that the home team has come away victorious in all three contests this year.
It is surprising how tough the road has been on these two NASL leaders. They combine for a whopping 4-8-12 when they take the field away from home. The stats do balance well because Indy has two less road wins and NYC have 2 more road losses. This overwhelming statistic will be surprisingly important over the next few weeks. Both teams are undefeated at home, but they are vulnerable when they travel.
Home field advantage for the playoffs will be a game changing psychological edge that neither team is prepared to give up at this point.
Indy's next opponent is another postseason contender in FC Edmonton. The Eddies will host Indiana's team a week from today in a match soaked in playoff implications. The Canadian side is now third on the combined table after this weekends results, but they have a game in hand on NYC and Indy. It's a home game to boot.
There have been massive games for Indy all season and I caution the overuse of the word, but Indy has risen to the challenge every time the points were truly needed. It's no surprise that a team with only 5 losses has a chance at the #1 overall seed, but I am predicting that the road to the championship has to go through Edmonton at least once. There is no doubt that Indy would prefer not returning to Alberta in November should that situation arise. If Indy Eleven secure 3 points in Edmonton next Sunday, and negate the mathematical advantage the Eddies have, they could position themselves well with remaining games against lower opponents.
What's the bottom line? Indy Eleven will have to win on the road at some point if they want to hoist more hardware in 2016. I hope that that the Indy Eleven understand this and go ahead and take care of business as they did yesterday. This team has done very well for itself in recent weeks with impressive wins against streaking teams. It's no surprise that this team is untouchable in front of the Brickyard Batallion. The surprise will be when they get it done without having their mommies tuck them into their own bed.
Indy will still need favorable results from the Cosmos, but the Cosmos and Indy are in the same boat with regards to the remaining schedule. Both teams have just 2 home fixtures remaining, but they each have 4 road games yet to go. New York has already dropped 7 road games this year. An extra 3 points in Edmonton for the Boys wearing white checkers will be massive.