INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven used goals from a pair of its “originals” – midfielders Dylan Mares and Don Smart – to post a two-goal lead inside the hour mark and held on from there, notching a 2-1 win over a red-hot The Miami FC side in front of 9,356 fans at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.
Tonight’s win ended a five-game unbeaten streak for Indy Eleven and snapped The Miami FC’s undefeated run at six games, reversing each team’s recent fortunes and returning them to neck-and-neck status in the Fall Season standings, the Eleven (24 points) once again nipping at the heels of Miami (25 points) for third place. The victory also pushed Indy Eleven’s home undefeated streak to 15 games dating back to last October (12W-3D-0L).
Despite a fast-paced start neither side would seriously test goal until the stroke of the 11th minute, when Nemanja Vukovic’s free kick might have beat The Miami FC ‘keeper Daniel Vega but definitely did not beat the crossbar, skipping off the top and over frame. Indy would get another good look in the 18th minute when midfielder Smart’s low cross was heeled on by forward Eamon Zayed from the top of the six, but his shot flashed just a foot wide of the near right post.
A Vega error would result in Indy Eleven’s opener in the 25th minute, as Justin Braun cut off the short distribution 35 yards out and into the path of Mares, who carried briefly before snapping off a shot that beat a recovering Vega low and just inside the left post to put the home side up 1-0.
Vukovic would have another chance on a free kick from 25 yards out in the 35th minute, this time putting it on frame, only to see Vega gather it cleanly. After The Miami FC saw repeated promising forays into the attacking third nullified for offsides – six in all in the first 45 minutes – the visitor’s most dangerous chance would at the stroke of regulation time when Vincenzo Rennella had space from 10 yards out in the left side of the area, only to send his shot into the outside netting.
Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch saw his first test of the night in the 54th minute, when he hustled to his right post and got low to knock away Jonny Steele’s low effort. Three minutes later it was Smart doubling the Eleven advantage, running onto a Vukovic cross that was nodded on by Zayed, his low-angle shot from the right side of the area taking a deflection and crossing up Vega to sneak inside the near post.
That goal would unlock the proceedings, with end-to-end chances ensuing in the final minutes, none more dangerous that Indy substitute midfielder Duke Lacroix’s open look from 10 yards out in the 62nd minute that he sent right to Vega, who did well not to spill a rebound. That allowed the visitors to gain one back on a set piece in the 67th minute, defender Rhett Bornstein nodding a corner kick towards goal that Rennella finished up inside the six to set up a frantic finish.
Rennella would again prove dangerous in the 79th minute, darting inside the right side of the area and beating a defender inside to unleash a rocketed left shot, only to have Busch make a strong two-handed save. Busch patrolled his area well down the stretch, the veteran coming off his line repeatedly to snare high crosses throughout the final 20-plus minutes, during which Miami would create some nervy moments but not manage to put any attempts on goal. Rennella’s last ditch effort in the 93rd minute could have tested Busch if not for a crucial block by Indy Eleven defender Cory Miller, the center back’s maneuver making sure to return Indy to the win column.
Indy Eleven will stay in the Circle City for a high profile match next Saturday, Sept. 24, a showdown with the first-place New York Cosmos. Kickoff at “The Mike” on Hispanic Heritage Night is set for 7:30 p.m