Indy Eleven stays undefeated at home after 1-1 draw with Tampa Bay

Indy Eleven stays undefeated at home after 1-1 draw with Tampa Bay
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INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, September 3, 2016) – Two squads in need of a win for different reasons had to settle for a share of the spoils, as Indy Eleven and the Tampa Bay Rowdies fought to a 1-1 draw in front of 9,098 fans at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.

The tie snapped Indy Eleven’s home win streak at eight games, but it also extended the squad’s unbeaten run at home to 14 games, including a 9W-3D-0L mark in 2016. Indy Eleven had hoped to make up more ground on front-running New York in the Fall Season and Combined Season standings, but finished the evening still six points behind on both tables.

Meanwhile, with Tampa Bay lost points in its chase to remain within shouting distance of the fourth and final postseason position, falling to eight points behind Minnesota United FC on the Combined Season table.

The two squads took a while to sort things out in attack, with Indy Eleven midfielder Duke Lacroix’s 8th minute cut inside past three Rowdies ending with a blocked shot really the only truly dangerous threat of the opening minutes. Tampa Bay’s Eric Avila had the visitors’ first shot in the 15th minute, a swerving effort from 25 yards that Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch blocked out for a corner at his right post.

The attacks finally started to get in sync for both sides, a set piece finish by Tampa Bay finally moving the scoreboard first in the 28th minute. Joe Cole’s exquisite service from 30 yards out looked to have two options at the back right post, with a lunging Justin Chavez ending up the winner, poking his first-time shot through the legs of Busch from three yards out to give the Rowdies the lead.

However, the advantage would last only six minutes, as Indy’s swarming pressure 30 yards from goal paid off, ending with Nicki Paterson nicking the ball to Omar Gordon. The Jamaican striker would take it from there, with some help from a touch by Eamon Zayed, weaving past two Rowdies defenders before finishing low past Matt Pickens to even the score at 1-1. A pair of Indy Eleven free kicks by Nemanja Vukovic would mark the best chances of the last 10 minutes of the opening half, but with both sent into the Tampa Bay wall neither threatened goal.

The second half would see Indy trying to work the flanks hard with crosses into the area, none more dangerous than Paterson’s service from the left in the 62nd minute that found the head of a waiting Zayed, but the Irishman steering his shot wide left by a foot. Tampa Bay would try to find success with shots from distance, PC’s effort in the 54th minute from 35 yards out testing Busch at his right post, but the veteran netminder had the chance covered all the way.

Neither goalkeeper would be forced into making a memorable save over the course of the final half hour, but that doesn’t mean chances were lacking. Don Smart’s run onto a Zayed ball in the 83rd minute brought the crowd to its feet, but his shot from the right side of the area would rise over frame. Indy midfielder Brad Ring would run onto no less than three loose balls outside the area in the final 10 minutes, his final attempt in the third minute of stoppage time form 25 yards trailing just left of frame to keep things square until the end.

Indy Eleven will return to the road next Saturday, Sept. 10, when it travels to South Florida to take on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

[source: Indy Eleven news release]

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