Indy Eleven fall to Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1

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Indy Eleven and the Tampa Bay Rowdies exchanged back-and-forth blows at the end of the first half, but it was Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov delivering the decisive blow late in the second stanza, as his tally gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory in front of a sold out crowd of 10,555 at IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium.

Indy Eleven would score the game's first tally on a wonder-strike by midfielder Kleberson in the 38th minute, which was quickly countered by Rowdies forward Casey Townsend's finish in the 43rd minute. Tampa Bay came out with the better of the play to open up, but both sides seemed intent to keep play in midfield without chancing much in back.

Indy Eleven's first near-net opportunity came in the 26th minute on a long ball by midfielder Blake Smith, who sent a cross over the middle to forward Ben Spencer. The tall striker set up for a bicycle kick at the top of the area, but the shot was blocked by the face of Tampa Bay defender Tamika Mkandawire as the ball left Spencer's foot. On the ensuing possession, the Rowdies responded with their own chance to take the lead. Attacking the right side of the box, forward Hristov placed a shot that just sailed high over the head of Indy keeper Kristian Nicht, keeping the match scoreless.

In the 38th minute, Indy would find the back of the net through its star midfielder Kleberson. Smith deftly headed a cross by Kleberson with a laid off header back out to the Brazilian, who took the return ball on a one-hop volley and fired it into the lower left corner of goal. The finish was Kleberson's fourth on the year - and his first from the run of play after three spot kick conversions during the Spring Season. But Rowdies quickly responded in the 43rd minute. A shot by midfielder Darel Russell found its way behind Nicht but bounced off the left post. However, Townsend was able to clean up the play and find his second goal of the year on an empty net, leveling the score 1-1 going into the locker room at halftime.

Indy Eleven opened up the second half of play searching vigorously for their go-ahead goal. In the 53rd minute, a cross from Smith to a streaking Victor Pineda gave the Eleven what looked to be a quality chance, only to see Pineda whistled offside. In the 73rd minute of the match, Indy Eleven midfield newcomer Sergio Peña made his NASL debut for the squad subbing on for Pineda. After both sides would see solid chances go wanting, the deciding factor came in the 89th minute of the match. A low cross by forward Brian Shriver was met by a streaking Hristov, who sent home a classy first-time finish off the underside of the crossbar and into goal to give the Rowdies the go-ahead goal in the dwindling minutes of the game.

"I thought in the second half that we looked very bright," said Indy Eleven Head Coach Juergen Sommer. "We created some great scoring opportunities and a few good set pieces. We were unlucky to not be able to convert one of those."

Indy Eleven will hit the road during Week 3 of NASL Fall Season action next Sunday, July 27, for its first trip to Canada to take on FC Edmonton for a 4:00 p.m. Kickoff - one day after Tampa Bay will return home to entertain the San Antonio Scorpions for a 7:30 p.m. start at Al Lang Stadium.