Indy wins 2-1 over Strikers
In August, Indy Eleven suffered their worst defeat in franchise history against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. On Saturday, Indy erased that 7-1 loss and beat the Strikers 2-1 in front of 9,213 for the Eleven’s final home game of the season. The win takes the Eleven up to 7th in the combined standings with one game to play. With the loss, Fort Lauderdale had to relinquish the final playoff spot to their Florida rival, Tampa Bay.
The Eleven opened their scoring account in the 20th minute when Don Smart and Marvin Ceballos played a give and go. After Smart received the ball back he was able to turn and fire a shot past an outstretched David Meves. The Eleven went up by two goals in the 43rd minute thanks to Brian Brown. Dylan Mares’s driven ball found the head of Brown off a set piece to close out the first half. Fort Lauderdale pulled one back in the 59th minute to make the final thirty minutes interesting. The ball fell to an open Jose Angulo after a poor clearance by Erick Norales resulting in a goal.
Tim Regan only made two changes to his starting line-up as their attacking options going forward were balanced with numbers staying back. For the second week in a row the Eleven showed versatility in the final third by playing long balls over the top of the Strikers defense, getting width in the attack, and combined with give and goes. The balance in the Eleven’s back started with their defensive midfielder, Sergio Peña. His ability to be an enforcer in the middle of the field, break up any combinations from the Strikers, win balls in the air, and keep Meves honest with his long range shots helped to keep Fort Lauderdale and the best player in the league, Stefano Pinho, in check majority of the game.
If it was not Peña then Kristian Nicht was there for the Eleven. His two massive saves in the second half was the difference. His first big save came in the 54th minute when an open Stefano Pinho had a shot from twenty-five yards out. But an outstretch Nicht was there. Nicht’s second save was in the 64th minute when Dani Sánchez tried to catch the Eleven’s goalkeeper off line with a chip from 50 yards out. It should not be a surprise to anyone if Nicht’s saves are nominated for NASL plays of the week.
The Eleven will look to extend their three game winning streak in their final game of the season in Carolina against the Railhawks on Friday night. Fort Lauderdale will be on the road in Jacksonville as they look to regain the final playoff spot from Tampa Bay. The Strikers will have to win and hope the Rowdies lose to the New York Cosmos.
Don Smart (IND) 19’ – assist Marvin Ceballos
Brian Brown (IND) 43’ – assist Dylan Mares
Jose Angulo (FTL) 59’
Shots off target:
Shots on target:
Don Smart (IND) 29’ – Yellow
Zach Steinberger (IND) 34’ – Yellow
Kristian Nicht (IND) 90’ – Yellow
Hendry Thomas (FTL) 90’ – Yellow