Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Indy Eleven vs Dayton Dutch Lions - 2014 U.S. Open Cup

- Opponent: Dayton Dutch Lions
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 9,181
- Final Score: 5-2 (win)
- Starting XI: Nicht (Captain), Norales, Smart, Hyland, Okiomah, Mares, Corrado, Moore, Smith, Ambersley, Spencer
- Substitutions: Omosegbon (Norales), Ramirez (Ambersley), Mendes (Spencer)
- Goals: Smith (26', 30', 88'), Ambersley (43'), Mares (46')
- Bookings: Corrado (19'), Hyland (66'), Moore (82')

As a result of this being a mid-week game, I was unable to attend.  While I was able to catch part of it online thanks to it being U.S. Soccer's Match of the Round, my brother Kevin agreed to provide the first-hand impressions since he was in the stadium.  So please enjoy our first guest post on this site.
Video replay here.

OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER. That’s the theme of the game for the Indy XI. This game was part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a midweek game outside of the NASL regular season schedule. Matching up against a lesser opponent in the Dayton Dutch Lions, the Indy XI put on an offensive exhibition, including an incredible hat trick from forward Blake Smith. The Dutch Lions play in the USL Pro Division, which is a league below the NASL. The difference in talent level was evident from the start as the XI dominated throughout the first half. The Indy offense was in control for nearly the entire first half, with goals being scored at the 26th, 30th, and 43rd minute. Mike Ambersley was the other goal scorer in the first half. Taking a 3-0 lead into halftime, the XI clearly controlled the time of possession and exerted their will over the seemingly inferior competitor.

The XI came out of the locker room with the same intensity as the first half and scored in the very first minute of the 2nd half. Dylan Mares was responsible for this first goal, keeping the momentum in the XI’s favor. This was setting up to be a blowout by the home team. The Brickyard Battalion and the fans were thoroughly enjoying this slaughter of the Lions.

But the Dutch Lions found their own offensive stride, scoring in the 66th minute on a questionable penalty kick when defender Kyle Hyland and goalkeeper Kristian Knicht teamed up to take down Dutch Lions player, Aaron Shoenfeld. The penalty kick was nearly stopped but the Lions scored to make the game 4-1. In the second half, the Lions were definitely more offensively focused and put the XI on their defensive heels with strong strikes inside Indy’s defensive third. It looked like this might turn into a competitive game after all. The Dutch Lions scored once again in the 76th minute to make the score 4-2. Fans were quietly murmuring that the XI were going to let their first win slip away. But Blake Smith put an end to those discussions when he scored his third goal at the 88th minute, making the final score 5-2 (Editors note: Of the Indy Eleven goals, Blake Smith was involved in all five; 3 goals, 2 assists).

To see a hat trick is a rare occurrence in soccer. It takes a special blend of luck, skill and timing to achieve this feat. As a spectator you root so hard when that player gets his second goal, hoping to see something so unique in sports. Seeing Blake Smith get his third goal and the XI get their first win was a special night indeed. Witnessing the XI’s first win was just as enjoyable and fans can rest assured that this team will win more games, in this season and into the future.

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