Monday, October 24, 2016

Indy Eleven vs PRFC - 03.31

- Opponent: Puerto Rico FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 8,916
- Final Score: 3-0 W
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Janicki, Vukovic, Smart, Ring, Mares, Ubiparipovic, Braun, Zayed
- Substitutions: Franco 35' injury (Palmer), Paterson 60' (Ubiparipovic), Lacroix 75' (Smart)
- Unused: Cardona, Keller, Gordon, Youla
- Goals: Braun 36' (assist Ubiparipovic), Zayed 45' (rebound from PK), Mares 45'+3' (assist Braun)
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: None

Home Sweet Carroll

In mid-October 2014, in the Eleven's inaugural season, fans spilled out onto Carroll Stadium's pitch to celebrate the Eleven's first home win. Two years later, as the final whistle blew, not a single member of the BYB found their way onto the field. The Eleven finished 2016 undefeated at The Mike in what had a very anticlimactic feel to it. With the exception of about a 12-minute period to close the first half, everything that happened after that seemed like a formality. It's a little disappointing that a season of never losing at home wasn't met with more fanfare. Though, it's also equally heartening that the team has progressed so far that the fans now expect winning ways and the team consistently, game after game, met those expectations this year.

The event that kicked off the dozen minutes of excitement started with a goal by Braun in the 36th minute on a nice chip from Ubiparipovic. There were two things that I loved about the goal. The first you can see in the Goal Replay, which is that it was a slow buildup to the goal. Counting the foul that Mares won to get it started, 9 different players touched the ball, working it from left to right and then back again before getting the cross into Braun. The possession and the patience of the team led to a goal. Beautiful soccer. The other part that I love was what Braun did right before he scored. Something that if you watch, he does all the time. He outworks, and outthinks, defenders. Watch the highlights and you'll see that right before Ubi makes the chip to the 6-yard box, Braun makes a move towards Ubi as if to receive a pass, then quickly cuts back towards the goal, freezing his defender chasing nothing but air. Perfect chip from Ubi and Braun puts it into the back of the goal. I've been debating about it for awhile now, but I think I've determined that Braun is my MVP for this team. His work rate, hold up play, and intangibles for this team has pushed him into the front-running position. This is a true team, but so much of what he brings to the team sets it up for success. With Saturday's goal and assist, Braun is now in the team's Top 5 for career assists and points and Top 3 for goals. Yes, Zayed is in that same category, but Braun has done it in 6 fewer games.

This is a nice place to be for this team, isn't it? I'm debating who is my team MVP between two forwards who actually produce goals to the point where they are some of the top goal scorers in just one season.

A couple minutes after Braun's goal, Puerto Rico's Oliver received his second yellow of the game, sending him to the showers early. Up a goal, up a man, with 52 minutes remaining in the game all while playing at home. I had no doubt that this game was won at this point. Six minutes later, Smart was pulled down in the box and Zayed was lined up over a penalty kick. PRFC's goalie Spangenberg guessed correctly and blocked Zayed's initial effort, he was not able to block the resulting rebound from Zayed. Game, for all intent and purposes was over at that point.

And then 3 minutes later, Mares put a left-footed blast to the right side of the goal freezing Spangenberg to the point he didn't even attempt to get the shot. In much the same way that the team spread the ball around on Braun's goal, the team worked the ball around until it found the right time to break down the defense. I don't know what the half-time speech was from Coach Hankinson, but I like to think it was "let's go out there and get Buschy a clean sheet. And if we can get Zayed another goal, even better." I only saw a couple times where it looked like somebody was targeting Zayed, but if ever there was a time to go after a person's goal, that was the time.

The Eleven head to OKC next weekend to play a team that has a lot more at stake in the playoff race than PRFC. Will we see the same lineup we saw in Tampa Bay or does Coach Hankinson keep the momentum going with the regular starters in the team's final tune up before the Championship.


1 comment:

Don said...

Love your recaps.