Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
New York Cosmos vs Indy Eleven
Sunday, November 13, 2016 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Belson Stadium - Queens, NY
New York Cosmos: â€‹
Media Game Notes:
History was made on Saturday afternoon at Carroll Stadium when Indy Eleven knocked off FC Edmonton 1-0 to advance to the NASL Championship Final for the first time in club's three year tenure.
A familiar opponent, FC Edmonton traveled to Indianapolis on the back of a successful NASL campaign that saw them finish in 3rd place, and having gone 1-1-1 against Indiana's Team in the regular season, there was a lot to play for on both sides. Early chances fell for both sides with the hosts getting things started just two minutes in. Central figure Sinisa Ubiparipovic played in midfielder Don Smart, and the latter launched an effort that forced Eddies' 'keeper Matt VanOekel into a good save. Minutes later, Ubiparipovic drew a foul on the edge of the 18-yard box, leaving midfielder Dylan Mares to take the free kick. Though Indy's No.6 had plenty of experience with set piece chances in the regular season, he failed to hit the target. Both FC Edmonton and Indy would have a few more chances fall their ways in the first half, but neither could capitalize and halftime brought a deserved 0-0.
The "Boys in Blue" were on top of things from the minute the second half whistle blew, with opportunities for Mares and forward Justin Braun both sailing high and wide of VanOekel's goal. However, in the 63rd minute, Sinisa Ubiparipovic produced an effort that could not be stopped to separate the two. After tidy interplay at the top of the box, an inch of space allowed the former Fury FC midfielder just enough to plant his right foot on the ball and send it into the top corner on the far side. The goal forced FC Edmonton to attack even more, but both the Indy backline and 'keeper Jon Busch were prepared for the efforts.
Indy’s Busch was called on to make the save of the game with just under five minutes left in regulation as FC Edmonton pressed desperately for an equalizer. Nicklaw struck a cross from the right flank that Ameobi rose above the defense to head down in front of Busch. He kept his body in front of the ball and pushed the shot wide shot to preserve Indy’s lead - and his fourth straight shutout.
The victory in Indy Eleven’s playoff debut secured another first during the team’s historic 2016 season - a first appearance in The Championship Final in the squad’s third year of play.
The New York Cosmos also had the opportunity to host their semifinal after capturing both the Fall and Combined Season title, and welcomed Rayo OKC to Shuart Stadium for the Saturday night fight.
An exciting affair between two talented sides, it was OKC who came out fighting from the get-go and actually enjoyed the majority of the chances in the opening half. After seeing a few efforts wide of both goals, Rayo's Michel helped break the deadlock in the 37th minute when his set-piece delivery connected with the head of defender Futty Danso, who nodded home past Cosmos' 'netminder Jimmy Maurer to make it 1-0. Going into the break, New York battled back with heavy pressure but could not capitalize leaving a 1-0 deficit heading into the second half.
Just 45 minutes away from elimination, New York came out scraping for chances but OKC would stand firm. Midway through the second half, the Cosmos almost got their equalizer but an amazing save followed by a goalline clearance saw their efforts denied. However, in the 73rd minute, midfielder Juan Arango latched onto a ball from defender Ayoze and placed it just out of the reach of OKC 'keeper Daniel Fernandes to tie things at one-all. Just as it looked like extra time would be a necessity, Arango was involved again to put the visitors away. After scoring his goal, he stood over the ball on a set-piece chance, where his delivery would meet the feet of winger Yohandri Orozco in front of net. Just a few feet away from goal, Orozco would not miss and the Cosmos won the match at the death.
The win sent New York to the NASL Championship final, where they will look to make it three wins in four tries on Sunday night.
This is it. There's nowhere left to hide for either side, though both have been in the limelight plenty in 2016. Spring Season champs vs. Fall Season champs, the #1 seed vs. the #2 seed, one of the biggest rivalries in the NASL - it all comes down to this.
Indy landed the first punch in April when they battled back from 1-0 down to see an Eamon Zayed penalty equalize in the 90th minute, only for the forward to then double his tally in a dramatic 2-1 finish at "The Mike." New York would get their revenge, though, in a midweek tie at the end of August, thrashing Indiana's Team 3-0 with the Eleven down to ten men. After that match concluded, Indy head coach Tim Hankinson told his team that it was time to turn around and ascend back up their "mountain," with the summit representing The Championship final. Picking up an impressive set of results at home, Indy welcomed the Cosmos back at the end of September and sent them reeling back to the "Big Apple" with their own 3-0 defeat on goals by Dylan Mares, Justin Braun, and Eamon Zayed.
After both sides advanced to The Championship final in impressive fashion, they meet for one final time in 2016 with it all on the line.
Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed
"Big games require big game players." That's what Eamon Zayed had to say on Thursday when prompted with the question of how his team would rise to the occasion. Fearless in ambition, the Irishman's 15 league goals in 2016 saw him finish second in the race for the Golden Boot, but broke multiple Indy Eleven records. Becoming the club's all-time leading scorer, Zayed scored twice against New York in April and capped things off with one more in their September clash, and with just one "big game" left, he's keen to be on the scoresheet again.
That said, Zayed recognizes the task in front of him - he's facing a formidable defense in the form of the Cosmos - and cited New York 'keeper Jimmy Maurer as one of the best in the league. But his confidence is high, as is the team's confidence, and they have no other plans but to leave Belson Stadium with a trophy in hand.
Who to Watch, New York Cosmos edition: MF Juan Arango
One of the most dangerous attackers in the league, Arango was heavily involved in the Cosmos' success this season and in particular, in The Championship semifinal.
Finishing the year with 15 regular season goals and seven assists, the midfielder created an impressive 44 chances in 29 appearances, and scored two of New York's three goals in their August win. Though this is his first year in a Cosmos shirt, the Venezuelan international has plenty of big game experience having led his country to a fourth place finish in the 2011 Copa America and also leads his country all-time in both appearances and goals.
Indy knows that marking #18 will be essential if they are to come away with the victory.
Match-up to Mark: DF Colin Falvey vs. FW Jairo Arrieta
There's not much left to be said about captain Colin Falvey's leadership and presence in this Indy Eleven side this year. After making the switch from Ottawa to Indy, the defender is now looking back on his past experience in The Championship final to try and secure something he did not last year - a trophy. Advancing to the final with Fury FC, Falvey (and Indy midfielders Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Nicki Paterson) fell at the feet of the Cosmos, and now he's looking for a path back to the top. Bloodied and bandaged, the Irishman left last Saturday's semifinal against FC Edmonton to receive stitches and change his kit (twice), but stepped forward to finish out the match which earned him much praise from both his head coach and teammates. With Sunday's final the culmination of a satisfying run under his powerful defensive presence, he will again lead his team for the most important 90 minutes of the year.
Forward Jairo Arrieta will be in Falvey's way, however, and his seven goals and four assists in 26 appearances are not numbers to ignore. The Costa Rican is in his first season with the Cosmos after leaving D.C. United of the MLS, and has found much success around the Fall Season champions. Assisting on one of the goals in their August victory over Indy, Arrieta will now look to lead the line again in search of his first goal against the "Boys in Blue" at Belson Stadium. With one of the best conversion rates in the league among those who have scored at least seven goals (22.6%), Indy will have to be on their toes should a chance fall his way.