Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Indy Eleven vs Rowdies - 01.11

- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 10,555
- Final Score: 2-1 L
- Starting XI: Nicht (Captain), Stone, Frias, Norales, Estridge, Kleberson, Corrado, Smith, Pineda, Ambersley, Spencer
- Substitutions: Pena 73' (Pineda), Smart 76' (Corrado), Mares 89' (Ambersley
- Goals: Kleberson (38', assist by Smith)
- Bookings: No Eleven cards

While the game started with a "First Kick" from Indiana native, and the United States National Team's left defensive back, DaMarcus Beasley, it was the Indy Eleven's defense that was caught ball watching for at least the second time in the game to, once again, give up a gut wrenching late goal and continue the team's winless streak at #TheMike.  Don't get me wrong, if an Ambersley pass with a little more pace on it in the 86th minute finds Spencer's foot and subsequently the back of the net instead of being blasted away from danger and I would be sitting here writing about the spectacular two-game winning streak to start the fall season. So while the ball watching mistakes created two goals for the Rowdies, the offense of the Eleven had their missed opportunities as well.

Early in the spring season, it was discussed that this was a young team and they were still learning how to be a professional player for the entire game.  Yet the margin of error for this team still appears to be very small despite adding some veteran players and having more than a dozen games under their belts once you include the U.S. Open Cup games.  We know they can win, we've seen them do it in a Railhawks stadium that had been impenetrable the past couple of seasons.

So what was the difference between last week and this week?

The pessimist in me says, "Maybe this team really isn't that good. The team's two wins have come against the Dayton Dutch Lions (a lower-tiered team) and a Carolina Railhawks team that played the final 33 minutes of the game down a player. Plus they lost to a Columbus Crew team despite having a two-man advantage for ten minutes of the overtime. And let's not forget about all of their "adage goals" this year."  

The optimist in me, while normally not a fighter, wants to punch the pessimist in the mouth. I see Ambersley laying in the middle of the field after the last minute goal against San Antonio in the spring.  I see Estridge sitting on the field with his head in his hands for a long time after most of the fans had left the stadium after this game.  I see the dejection in the guys knowing that they let another close game get away from them.  But I also see the talent.

I see spectacular shots on goal by Kleberson.

I see fantastic saves by Nicht.

I see the spark created by Smart.

I see possession stats that favor the Eleven.

Maybe more importantly, I see the heart.

By my count, this team has had a lead in league play for a grand total of 14 minutes. Let me phrase that another way.  This team has held a lead for less than 1/6th of the time of a single game, much less an entire spring season and two games into the fall season.  Yet, I have never seen this team stop playing.  Not once have I seen players give up.  They seem to have the belief that as long as there is time left on the clock, they can salvage a draw, or escape with a win.

When I see the team give up, then I'll be worried and frustrated.  Right now, I'm simply disappointed, just like the team.  Ready to celebrate that first league home victory with 10,000+ people screaming for joy around me, whenever it may happen.

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