Indy Eleven (3-6-0) are still unbeaten after a 0-0 draw to Miami FC on their fourth trip to Florida. Indy went to Miami (1-4-4) while riding high from a recent US Open Cup win against Louisville City and remain as this country's only undefeated unit across all professional divisions. The Indy Eleven have not lost a meaningful game in 2016 and extend their record to 10 games.
It was not Indy's best game, but it was enough. The result allows Indy to remain in striking distance. The gap on the first place Cosmos was reduced, but one goal during 360 minutes in the Florida sun will need to be addressed. It is rare opportunity to face the second worst team in back-to-back weeks and many will feel it was another opportunity lost. Only taking 2 points against Miami and Jacksonville should provide inspiration going forward.
Indy were in sole possession of second place heading into this week's round of NASL action and that is where they remain. Indy are still the second best on the table but they are joined by a few others nipping at their heels. Tampa Bay and Ft. Louderdale are finding rhythm as well as wins so Indy will hold on to the #2 spot on goal differential. Indy Eleven, Tampa Bay and Ft Lauderdale all have 15 points with one game remaining in the Spring Season.
Tip of the hat to Ft. Lauderdale
Although their new position next to Indy on points is unwelcome, the Strikers deserve credit for defeating the York Cosmos and keeping the dream alive for a spring championship. Mathematically speaking, all four of the top teams have a chance at the trophy as well as the automatic playoff spot which is worth even more. Indy has the most realistic chance (among teams not named Cosmos) but they need another goal party like they had on Minnesota United.
Is it possible?
Yes, but Indy will require another performance like when they defeated the loons by a score of 4-2. The Brickyard Battalion will be happy to host another four goal outburst, but Indy has to win by 3 goals in order to lock up the Spring. 4-0 and 4-1 are acceptable scorelines in order to be crowned the Spring Champs.
Indy Eleven will host the Carolina Railhawks on Saturday June 11th for a chance to win the Spring Season. That match will become the most significant game in Indy's three year history and it's importance will surpass that of the Minnesota game several weeks ago. Positive results against Minnesota were required to keep Indy in the conversation for the leagues elite, but this upcoming fixture will answer the question.
Injuries have hampered Indy's progress as I have been reporting like a broken record. Don Smart is the latest casualty. His seasons journey is a roller coaster of emotions and he didn't travel to Miami. Smart was a healthy scratch and left off of the roster several weeks ago, but the clubs appearance leader battled back to the starting 11 before being subbed out early against Louisville in the US Open Cup due to injury. Jair Reisnoso was also subbed out of his first USOC, but he was available for selection on Saturday.
Sinisa Ubiparipovic is back on the roster and was available on Saturday, but Brad Ring is still recovering from a MCL sprain.
Big Picture Talk
No one is writing this team off as a contender for the season. The Spring Championship is just the closest at hand so it draws a natural amount of discussion. It's also the most efficient route to the postseason. Win convincingly next Saturday and book your tickets to the playoffs. The truth is that Indy is now a respected side and are often a favorite to win matches. This team is better than ever and it raises expectations above where they have been in the past.
The Indy Eleven are extremely tough defensively and have three shutouts on the road. Getting the team to a complete and healthy status remains priority number one. However, the Indy Eleven front office is not exactly sitting and twiddling their thumbs. Outgoing Team President Peter Wilt has been teasing a going away present on social media and I have recently seen trialists training in Indianapolis.
The second best team in the NASL is making efforts to be better.
Blue On Blue On Blue
I am encouraging a "Blueout" for the blowout. The Indy Eleven have 3 wins going monochromatic blue this season. 2-1 over Cosmos. 4-2 over Minnesota and 2-1 over Lou City.