Indy Eleven Earn Gritty Road Point in Season Opening Stalemate at Tampa Bay
Goalkeeper Jon Busch’s Three Saves, Steady Defensive Effort Help “Boys in Blue” to 0-0 Draw, Clean Sheet to Open 2016 Season
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Saturday, April 2, 2016) – For the third season opener in as many years, Indy Eleven would earn a point from its NASL season opener, this time securing a road point from a 0-0 draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. The new look Eleven squad featured ten “Boys in Blue” making their Indy debut, including goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made three saves in securing the clean sheet.
“There’s no question that defensively we’re a very solid unit. I feel like in all games this year we’ll be able to defense well and stay in games until the very end certainly,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “Certainly the possession tonight was a lot better than we’ve seen in our preseason games, so I’m pleased with that, and the patience we showed was very solid. That’s the way you have to play on the road, so the point tonight was a very well taken point.”
The first half was dominated by the defenses as just one of the teams’ five combined shots would force a save, Busch doing the deed five minutes in with an easy grab of Tamika Mkandawire’s header 10 yards straight out from goal. That’s not to say Busch wasn’t active, as he darted off his line on several occasions to frustrate the Rowdies attack, most notably sliding in to thwart a couple of through balls intended for runs by new Tampa Bay striker Tommy Heinemann.
The sides finally traded solid chances early in the second half, Busch going low to stop Heinemann’s shot from space in the 52nd minute and Indy midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic seeing his dipping effort from 25 yards miss just high four minutes later.
The visitors looked more and more content to secure their road point as the half continued, but a flurry in the 78th minute would almost see the Eleven sneak into the lead. However, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens came up big, first steering aside a corner kick that somehow got through traffic in the six yard box before making his only save of the night on Indy forward Eamon Zayed’s volley from the right side of the area.
The physicality of the Eleven defense would pay off time after time, as solid challenges and timely slide tackles throughout the evening helped keep Tampa off the board. However, Busch was called into service one last time in the 92nd minute when Eric Avila’s sidewinding shot from outside the area was hit with pace, but right at the Indy netminder in the center of goal.
Indy Eleven (0W-1D-0L, 1 pt.) will take the road point back to the Hoosier State and prepare for its home opener next Saturday, April 9, against Ottawa Fury FC (0-0-0). Kickoff from Michael A. Carroll Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for Bicentennial Celebration night at “The Mike” starting at just $11 at www.IndyEleven.com. In addition, a $20 Bicentennial Picnic Pack featuring a ticket to the match and a meal full of Indiana favorites are on sale at bicentennial.indyeleven.com.
NASL Spring Season
Tampa Bay Rowdies 0 : 0 Indy Eleven
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, FL
Spring Season: 0W-1D-0L (1 pt.)
Tampa Bay Rowdies:
Spring Season: 0W-1D-0L (1 pt.)
TBR – Neill Collins (caution) 40’
TBR – Darnell King (caution) 43’
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 53’
IND – Gorka Larrea (caution) 87’
TBR – Zac Portillos (caution) 87’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-2-3-1, L-->R): Jon Busch; Nemanja Vukovic, Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer (Marco Franco 82’); Nicki Paterson (Gorka Larrea 63’), Brad Ring; Duke Lacroix (Jair Reinoso 73’), Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Justin Braun; Eamon Zayed
Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Cory Miller, Dylan Mares, Don Smart
Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens; Zac Portillos, Neill Collins, Tamika Mkandawire (capt), Darnell King; Justin Chavez, Michael Nanchoff; Kalif Alhassan (Darwin Espinal 67’), Junior Burgos (Georgi Hristov 73’), Eric Avila; Tommy Heinemann
Rowdies bench: Michael Langer (GK), Jeremy Hall, Ben Sweat, Juan Guerra, Danny Mwanga