Miami could smell it. Arguably the top team in division 2 was circling Indy waiting to pounce on the weak and injured. Indy picked up two more injuries to players coming in to this match. Eamon Zayed and Craig Henderson would both be a no-go in Miami, which pushed the two newest members of the team to an immediate starting position. Along with Jason Plumhoff and Brandon Poltronieri, rookies Tanner Thompson and David Goldsmith got the call to start. The mix of fresh faces and new injuries seemed to help fuel Miami’s dominance on Saturday night.
Without spending all day diving in to the roster woes of Indy Eleven for this review, we should just jump in to the game itself.
Here is how the two sides would line up
Of note: Indy moved their players almost immediately to different positions than what was shown prior to the start of the game. It looked more like this.
How it played out
Immediately in the first half it was clear that Miami was gunning for goals upon goals. At 1’ Busch was called upon to push a scorching shot over the top of the goal. And not to be undone, the second chance for Miami came at the 3’ mark with a ball that beat Busch across the front of the goal, finding an open Dylan Mares, only to be guided just wide of the right post.
That touch seemingly awakened Indy Eleven’s prodigal son, who in the off season did not return but rather found greener pastures (re more natural grass and a heftier paycheck) on the Miami FC roster. With ever touch, Mares moved the play forward and threatened the score sheet. Any time he had the ball near the top of the 18 yard box, he took a shot.
Our midfield didn’t seem to have any answer for the opposing midfield play of Miami. They were effortlessly passing the ball up the field through the middle and in to dangerous positions. Along with Mares’ threatening play, Poku was also too much to handle. Poku and his teammates abilities to get behind our center backs with cuts and dives towards the box, or passes against the grain of play for our defenders, would leave our ours guys chasing all night long. In the 22’ “Enzo” Rennella sent an outlet pass over the middle to a cutting Poku. Poku had beaten a scrambling Kwame Watson-Siriboe leaving him one on one with the Indy keeper. Busch, to his credit though, was able to react to the shot and bat it away to the feet of Kwame who then guided it in to the stands.
Indy’s best shot on goal for the night came in the 24’. It started with Goldsmith in the middle sending the ball to the right side to Plumhoff. Plumhoff then moved the ball forward and sent the ball in to the middle looking for Braun. One of the defenders knocked the ball down to the feet of the charging Goldsmith who kept charging forward. With a one touch move around two defenders, Goldsmith was able to get a clear shot on target, blasting the ball on target. Unfortunately though, the not often challenged Daniel Vega was able to make a great save to keep Indy from opening up the score first.
After that, play continued on with more and more chances for the home side. Great chances came in the 32’ and the 42’ with both involving Poku. He played roles as the distributor or shot taker in both situations. It was only the miss-hit of Miami, or a great tackle by the Mexican veteran Torrado, that would keep Miami off of the scoresheet. In extra time though, Miami would find the first goal of the night when a Poku pass up the middle to a slicing Enzo found the back of the net. 1-0 Miami.
In the second half, Tim Hankinson looked to change things up. We got the return of Ben Speas and Anthony Manning. Both were brought in to replace the two recent newcomers to the roster. Again the Indy players rotated positions due to the subs: Speas slotted up top next to Braun, Manning took over the left back role, and Goldsmith moved down to right midfield.
That second half change, along with a renewed aggression to Indy’s play, started to create chances. In the 56’ Indy won a corner. Indy sent the ball in, but the ball was intercepted by Miami’s Freeman, who brilliantly decided to head the ball to the opposite post and in to his own net. 1-1 good guys.
When Indy has scored this season, it is usually followed within minutes by an opposing goal. And as if it was written in the NASL guidebook, Miami scored just 5 minutes later by none other than Dylan Mares. That one hurt. In this game you could see why he was reportedly paid 3 times as much to make the move to the sunshine state. His play was crucial through the midfield.
And not to be outdone by Mares, Miami’s back Kcira was able to dribble the ball from the left side to the middle and send a beautiful curving shot past the diving Busch to make it 3-1 Miami. Those goals happened quickly… too quickly and too easily to really get in to the details. The score of 3-1 was generous to Indy. The score at that point could have easily been 6-0 or even more. It’s clear that Miami is a class above all others at this point in the season.
The game would go on much the same the rest of the night except for a brief moment in the 83’. A little over 10 minutes prior, Don Smart was subbed in to the game. A great sight for sore Indy Eleven’s fans’ eyes. You could see an immediate threat though. He was able to get the ball in promising territory that should bode well for future matches. Back to the 83’, Speas received the ball in the midfield at the top of the 18 yard box. He then quickly found the feet of Smart who was playing that advancing role. With two defenders closing in on him as he approached the side of the box, he was able to slip right between both and send a rolling ball to the 6 yard box. In a moment that SHOULD make a Sportscenter Not Top Ten moment, both the goalkeeper and a Miami defender would stop and watch it roll past both guys’ toes right to the surprised Braun for an easy tap in. If that wasn’t a clear enough picture, imagine two little league baseball players running to a ball with both yelling “I got it” and both stopping expecting the other to catch it only to see it drop right in between them. Yeah, it was great. 3-2 Miami.
Even though they only got to play 3 minutes of the added 4 minutes of extra time, it wasn’t enough time for Indy to luck in to another goal. Indy Eleven was handed their first defeat of the season. A few good takeaways though. Indy Eleven broke their drawing streak, we got the return of some key players, and some young players got significant playing time. On to the Open Cup!
PHOTO BY: MIAMIFC.COM