RECAP: Indy Eleven Earns Hard-Fought Point in 2017 Season Opener at San Francisco

Duo of Debutants Ben Speas and Tanner Thompson Combine for Equalizer in 1-1 Draw at Kezar Stadium
Published Mar 26, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (Saturday, March 25, 2017) – Indy Eleven earned an important point in the 2017 season opener as they come away from San Francisco following a 1-1 draw.

Lining up without 2016 leading goalscorer Eamon Zayed in the starting XI, the "Boys in Blue" deployed the pair of Ben Speas and Justin Braun up top, with a midfield four of Brad Ring, Gerardo Torrado, Don Smart, and Tanner Thompson packing in the center. At the back, it fell on defenders Nemanja Vukovic, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Daniel Keller, and Marco Franco to protect 'keeper Jon Busch against a fresh Deltas side.

San Francisco was the more eager of the two sides to begin the match, and their first chance of the evening fell just six minutes into the contest. The delivery from midfielder Cristian Portilla, a curling corner fell into a jumble of defenders and attackers alike but ultimately fell out of play at the back post for a goal kick to end the initial threat. As the Deltas settled into the match, chances piled up in the opening 15 minutes. San Francisco would come close once again in the 16th minute when forward Tom Heinemann sought the run of midfielder Jackson into the 18-yard box, but Indy 'keeper Jon Busch was off his line in time to punch out for a throw.

The best chance of the half for Indy would come ten minutes later, this time for forward Justin Braun. Using his incredible pace to sneak behind San Francisco's back four, Braun found himself on a 1v1 with Deltas 'keeper Romuald Peiser. Finessing a right-footed roller, Braun would beat the 'netminder but fail to find the back of the net.

As momentum swung from side-to-side, the hosts would open the scoring just after 30 minutes of play thanks to midfielder Kyle Bekker. Taking a pass from forward Danny Cruz, Bekker swept in a one-time effort past Jon Busch with his right foot as San Francisco scored their first ever goal in league play.

The seconds ticked down in the opening 45 minutes, but Indy would come close once more as Justin Braun linked up momentarily with midfielder Ben Speas only for the Deltas defense to collapse the move and absorb the pressure.

With no changes for either side to start the second half, Indy jumped out ahead and nearly connected within two minutes of the restart. Again the combo of Speas and Braun was fruitful, but as Braun stretched to meet the low, driven ball from Speas he would come just inches away from making a solid connection.

However, Indy's high press to start the second half would eventually pay off in the 58th minute. Ben Speas knocked in a beautiful, left-footed cross for debutant Tanner Thompson, and Indy's newest signing produced a skillful, looping header that arced over the head of Peiser and into the back of the net to tie things at one-all. For Thompson, it was the first shot and goal of his NASL career. For Speas, it was also his first assist as a member of Indiana's Team.

"It feels really good on the debut. You can only wish to be able to contribute on the stat sheet, and Ben put in a great ball at the right time and I was able to head it home," said Thompson.

"I would have never put any money on scoring like that. It was actually my first headed goal ever - even from youth soccer and into college. I was just able to get my body position right and throw off their jump. It fell nicely and I was thrilled to be on the end of it.

Not done yet, Indy continued to up the pressure and Justin Braun again proved a catalyst. Working in behind Deltas defender Nana Attakora, Braun wiggled into a second 1v1 against Peiser, but the 'netminder stood tall and denied the forward from point-blank range to keep things level.

After a back-and-forth next twenty minutes, another quality chance fell to Indy near the death. Substitute Eamon Zayed replaced midfielder Ben Speas with 15 minutes to play and found himself on the end of an excellent delivery from Don Smart. However, after Smart did well to lift the ball to the Irishman, the forward could not direct his effort on frame and the chance went missing.

Into six minutes of stoppage, two final opportunities would come Indy's way - the first in the form of a Nemanja Vukovic free kick. Standing over the ball in the 93rd minute, "Vuko" cracked a cross-cum-shot towards the Deltas goal that saw the San Fran 'keeper react in the nick of time to prevent a sure winner from crossing the line. Seconds later, Kwame Watson-Siriboe was able to get a head on a corner kick from the left-back Vukovic, but the ball skimmed off the top of his head and out for a goal kick.

As the final whistle blew at Kezar Stadium, both teams earned a hard-fought point in a match that could have yielded much more in attacking output. 

Indy Eleven will return home to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium for the first time next Saturday, April 1, when the “Boys in Blue” will host Puerto Rico FC for a 3:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Tickets for the April 1 home opener – and all 16 NASL matches at “The Mike” in 2017 – can be purchased for as little as $11 online at or by phone at 317-685-1100.



2017 NASL Season
San Francisco Deltas 1 : 1  Indy Eleven
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Kezar Stadium – San Francisco, CA
Scoring Summary:
SFD - Kyle Bekker 31'
IND - Tanner Thompson 58'
Discipline Summary:
IND - Nemanja Vukovic 55'
IND - Kwame Watson-Siriboe 60'
SFD - Nana Attakora 60'
SFD - Pablo Dyego 67'

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L-->R):  Jon Busch (GK); Nemanja Vukovic, Daniel Keller, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Marco Franco; Brad Ring (C), Gerardo Torrado, Tanner Thompson (Craig Henderson 77'), Don Smart; Ben Speas (Eamon Zayed 77'), Justin Braun
Indy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Anthony Manning, Sinisa Ubiparipovic

San Francisco Deltas line-up (4-3-3, L-->R):  Romuald Peiser (GK); Karl Ouimette, Nana Attakora (C), Reiner Ferreira, Kenny Teijsse; Michael Stephens, Cristian Portilla, Kyle Bekker; Jackson (Pablo Dyego 67'), Tommy Heinemann (Devon Sandoval 90+5'), Danny Cruz (Tyler Gibson 81')

San Francisco Deltas bench: Alex Mangels (GK), Bryan Burke, Patrick Hopkins, Greg Jordan