It wasn’t the first win in NASL play that Indy Eleven was hoping for, but the squad will still head into the league’s mid season break with some momentum after digging out a point from a gritty 3-3 draw with the Atlanta Silverbacks in front of 5,000 fans at Silverbacks Park. The match featured four penalty kicks, the last of which Indy Eleven midfielder Kleberson converted in the 88th minute to even the proceedings, this after a red card shown to Fejiro Okiomah in the 64th man forced the Hoosier State squad to play down a man for the finish.
Eleven forward Mike Ambersley and his Silverbacks counterpart Jaime Chavez each struck twice to help their respective teams earn a point in a hard-fought battle.
Indy Eleven’s tendency to go down continued for an eighth straight match when, in the 11th minute, Silverbacks midfielder Borfor Carr drew a penalty for his team, knocking the ball off Jaime Frias’ hand in the penalty area. Chavez would be the one to step up to the spot, and he made no mistake, beating Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht low to his left to make it 1-0.
Indy Eleven couldn’t have had a quicker answer, though. Less than a minute later, the ball was in the Silverbacks net courtesy of Ambersley. The former Indiana University star was on the doorstep to put home a rebound that Silverbacks goalkeeper Eric Ati spilled after making a save.
As if two goals in two minutes weren’t enough, the Silverbacks put one home in the 15th minute to make it 2-1. A cross from Harlley was deflected and ended up at the feet of Cruz, who pushed the ball into the net to make it three goals in four minutes.
Both teams settled down after the opening minutes, with neither team creating many meaningful chances for the rest of the first half. The Silverbacks did get on the board for a third time, however, when Carr drew a second penalty. Midfielder Kwadwo Poku played Carr in on goal, and Indy Eleven midfielder Blake Smith tripped him up to send Chavez to the spot again. The Los Angeles native did well to convert the spot kick, getting his second goal of the first half to make it 3-1 in stoppage time.
It wasn’t all good news for the Silverbacks in the first half. Eric Wynalda was forced to make two notable changes in the first half, as Ati and defender Abdul Bangura had to be replaced by Thomas Hunter and Ryan Roushandel respectively.
Indy Eleven came out of the locker room after halftime as the better side, and their improved play paid off in the 58th minute when a penalty kick was called following a Silverbacks foul. Cruz committed the infraction, and that sent Ambersley to the spot, where he converted with a low shot off the left post that cut the deficit to one goal.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men midway through the second half when Okiomah brought down Jaime Chavez as the last defender. Chavez would have had a clear path towards goal, and the red card came without a second thought from referee Alan Kelly.
The Silverbacks pressed forward to increase their lead, and after missing several good scoring opportunities it was Indy Eleven that would find the net. Former Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes was brought down in the penalty area by Roushandel, giving substitute midfielder Kleberson the opportunity to equalize in the 88th minute. The former Brazil international did just that, firing a shot into the side netting to make the score 3-3.
The score would hold up despite good looks from both sides to push ahead down the stretch, completing one of the more entertaining matches during the NASL’s Spring Season. Tonight marked the final game of the NASL Spring Season for both teams, as the league’s break for the FIFA World Cup begins next week. However, Indy Eleven will still have some work to do while Brazil 2014 unfolds, as the squad will travel to Akron, Ohio, on June 17 to take on Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Story from: Indy Eleven