Indy Eleven falls in penalty kicks to New York Cosmos in The Championship Final

(photo courtesy NASL)

NEW YORK (WTHR) - A valiant effort from Indy Eleven fell short Sunday night as they lost to the New York Cosmos in The Championship Final at Belson Stadium.

After keeping the league's highest-scoring attack to a scoreless stalemate through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 more of added extra time, New York made each of its first four tie-breaker penalty kicks, giving the Cosmos their third title in four seasons of play in their NASL reboot.

Indy Eleven had the first dangerous shot on goal 11 minutes into the game. Midfielder Don Smart centered from the right flank to Eamon Zayed, who settled the ball and turned for a shot that was saved by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The Eleven were on the attack again three minutes later. Left-side defender Nemanja Vukovic hit a high diagonal ball that Smart smacked on the volley off the goalpost and out for a goal kick.

New York answered back with its best chance in the 18th minute. Juan Arango, the winner of the league’s Golden Ball as most valuable player, found a streaking Yohandry Orozco at the top of the Indy penalty area. But he got under his left-footed shot, which sailed high and wide. In the 29th minute, Cosmos defender Ayoze dropped a long lead pass over the Indy defense that Arango was able to run on to for a shot that Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch jumped to swat away.

In the 54th minute, a shot by New York midfielder Ruben Bover, with his second-favorite right foot, tested Busch from about 20 yards out. The Indy goalkeeper was up to the task, first knocking the ball down in front of him, then smothering it to prevent Jairo Arrieta from pouncing.

Indy had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 70th. Sinisa Ubiparipovic controlled the ball at the top of the Cosmos penalty area and touched a pass to Smart. Smart ran onto the ball and curved an open, left-footed shot that had Maurer beaten, but rebounded off the angle where the crossbar meets the goalpost.

The Cosmos came close four minutes later. Ryan Richter sent a curving cross into the Indy penalty area that Arrieta met with his head, but his effort skittered wide of the near post for a goal kick. Looking for a spark up front, Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese inserted David Diosa as a replacement for Orozco.

With a little less than 10 minutes left in regulation time, Richter on the right again sent a dangerous ball into the Indy penalty area. Four players, two from each team plus goalkeeper Busch, converged in a jumble as the ball bounced and skipped wide without being touched by anyone.

At the start of second-half added time, an Ubiparipovic free kick from deep on the left flank found the head of Zayed. His effort was deflected over the end line for a corner. Two minutes later, Arrieta crossed from the left to Diosa in the center of the penalty area. His first touch escaped him, but Diosa stayed with the play, turned and hit a right-footed shot that just skipped wide of the near post.

Indy went first in the shootout and Nicki Paterson, the Eleven’s final substitute in the game, beat Maurer with a shot inside the far post. Arrieta stepped up for the Cosmos and smacked his shot off the far post and in.

Zayed was up next for Indy, but saw his shot hit the far post, skitter along the goal line and out. Adam Moffat took the second kick for the Cosmos and put it right down the middle as Busch dove the other way, giving New York a 2-1 advantage.

In a departure from usual practices, Indy coach Tim Hankinson had Busch take the third kick, which he put high and wide. Ayoze gave the Cosmos a 3-1 lead, curing a patented left-footed shot past Busch.

The Eleven were in danger as Vukovic kept Indy alive by planting a hard shot in the near, upper corner. Richter then had a chance to ice the game and the championship for New York. He did not fail, hitting a shot low and inside the far post to give the Cosmos the victory.

Indy Eleven will return to Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, scheduled to arrive at the Indianapolis International Airport at 2:43 pm via Delta Airlines. Fans are encouraged to welcome back the "Boys in Blue."

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