After every game in 2017, IndyEleven.com’s Scott Stewart will give his quick hits from Indy Eleven's match. This week's edition comes after "Indiana's Team" defeated PRFC 2-1 at home.
Forward Eamon Zayed must love Wednesdays in Indianapolis. In Indy Eleven's last two midweek dates, Zayed has found himself on the scoresheet three times including his brace in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Puerto Rico FC. In his first multi-goal game since his hat-trick against Jacksonville in August 2016, "Big Z" celebrated his birthday with a goal in the 37th minute following a blocked effort from midfielder Ben Speas that fell into his path, before doubling Indy's lead just after the hour mark on a cross from defender Marco Franco.
The Irishman now stands alone at the top of the Indy Eleven scoring charts this season with nine goals, just six shy of his 2016 tally of 16 total with five regular-season games remaining. In addition, Zayed stretched his all-time Indy Eleven scoring record to 25 total, putting him clear of forward Justin Braun who has seven on the year but 15 as a "Boy in Blue" through two years.
"Mr. Indy" is a popular figure around town, and it's easy to see why. Midfielder Don Smart continues to edge his way towards becoming the first Indy Eleven player to appear in 100 matches across all competitions, with last night's feature against PRFC bringing him to 97 total. Should Smart feature against the New York Cosmos on Saturday, and against the San Francisco Deltas in The Golden State, the Jamaican will be back home again in Indiana for No.100 on Saturday, October 14 against Miami FC with kickoff at 3 PM.
Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch continues to push his way to the top of the goalkeeping charts, nearly securing a second clean sheet in three matches before a late penalty allowed "La Naranja" the clearest-cut opportunity to find the back of the net. However, "Buschy" is just four saves of NCFC 'keeper Brian Sylvestre for first place in the league in that category, with two games in hand to get the job done.
In addition, one more clean sheet on the year would place the veteran alone in fourth place in that category, while he sits T-3 in minutes played on the year with the expectation that, should Indy Eleven continue to push for the playoffs, he is in goal for the remainder of the season. And speaking of playoffs...
This team believes, this organization believes, and these fans believe that a push for the playoffs is very much still alive. With five matches remaining, Indy Eleven still sits sixth in the combined standings with the New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada FC ahead of them in the fight for fourth. However, Indy welcomes NYC to Carroll Stadium this Saturday with the opportunity to close the game to just two points should the "Boys in Blue" claim a victory.
In addition, though North Carolina FC sit third, they are a game ahead of all three of New York, Jacksonville, and Indy, meaning that if "Indiana's Team" can put a run together in the next few matches and continue to pick up victories, the regular season finale on Sunday, October 29 against NCFC at 5 PM might have major playoff implications. Indy will not face Jacksonville again in the 2017 campaign, and will only face the Cosmos and NCFC once more, with a trip to San Francisco and visits from Miami FC and Puerto Rico FC sandwiched in between. The hunt continues.