Pinho Notches 13th Goal, Lewis Makes Career-high 10 Saves in Regular Season Finale
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Wednesday, October 12, 2022) – Indy Eleven fell behind early in its 2022 USL Championship regular season finale and couldn’t overcome Birmingham Legion FC, which posted a 3-1 victory over Indiana’s Team at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
Indy Eleven played a man down for the second half following Neveal Hackshaw’s red card in first half stoppage time, but forward Stefano Pinho was still able to carry his red-hot form through with a goal off the bench, his 13th of the season. The Brazilian’s 2022 goal haul tied him with Tyler Pasher’s standout 2019 performance for the second most tallies in a single season in the Eleven’s nine years of play.
On the other end, goalkeeper Sean Lewis was busy throughout the night, making a career-high 10 saves on the evening that tied the highest number of stops for a USLC netminder during the 2022 season.
While the result wasn’t the finish the Boys in Blue for, the squad still finished the season on a 6W-3L-1D run that provided potential for the squad’s 2023 season. That look towards the future was personified by the late-game professional debut of 17-year-old Diego Sanchez, an Indianapolis native who signed a USL Academy contract with the squad last summer.
Legion FC came out and controlled the game early, creating two great chances in the first five minutes through Marlon Santos including a curling shot from outside the box that forced Lewis into a short-hop parry. Just as the 11th minute turned Lewis made another big athletic save, this time leaping to tip Birmingham midfielder Enzo Martínez’s right footed shot from outside the box over the bar for a corner. The Boys in Blue came alive in the 20th minute when Jared Timmer sent a fantastic cross into the box that found the head of forward Manuel Arteaga near the spot, but Legion goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel equaled Lewis’ feat from minutes earlier by backpedaling to tip the ball over the bar.
Legion FC grabbed control back in the 25th minute on a well-worked team goal finished off by Martínez. Kasim Prosper’s deft backheel put Jonathan Dean into space in the right side of the area, where he sent a low cross into the box that Martinez darted in to redirect at the near post to move the scoreboard. Then just three minutes later Kasim found Birmingham’s second himself with a left footed shot that just snuck inside the lower right corner on a play assisted by Martinez.
Legion FC peppered 13 first half shots at Lewis, who came up with four saves in the stanza to keep the game at 2-0 and keep the Eleven with a chance to get back into the game. That task got tougher when midfielder Neveal Hackshaw got a straight red card in first half stoppage time for raising his hand near the face of former teammate Alex Crognale, leaving Birmingham with numerical advantages on the scoreboard and the field as the half ended.
The second half started much the same, with Legion FC sending attacking wave after attacking wave into the final third – and with Lewis continuing to stand tall with several sturdy saves. As the game reached the 53rd minute the Eleven started to gain possession of the ball and control the pace, seemingly speeding the game up to get a counterattacking chance on goal. However, the game fell back into Legion FC’s favor in the 60th minute when the referee awarded the home side a penalty after a handball call in the box against Eleven defender Robby Dambrot. Santos took and finished the penalty into the bottom right corner in the 61st to give the Legion a 3-0 lead.
With the 70th minute came the first of three notable changes off the Eleven substitute’s bench, beginning with Head Coach Mark Lowry giving captain Ayoze his Indy curtain call in what was calculated to be the Spaniard’s 400th professional appearance during a splendid 19-year career.
Birmingham continued to press forward, with Martinez seeing another set-up by Kasim go for not when his shot in traffic was blocked in the 71st minute. In the 76th minute Martínez again thought he found his second for the night as he scored from inside the box, but after a short conference between the center referee and his assistant he was deemed offside.
Pinho entered the game in the 83rd minute and found goal on his first touch of the night in the same minute. The Brazilian took advantage of a poorly headed back pass towards the top of the Legion area, where he acrobatically slotted inside the left post for his 13th goal of 2022, a season-long haul that ranks behind only Eamon Zayed’s 16 goals in official competitions back in 2016.
In the 87th minute it was Sanchez’s turn to appear off the bench when he took the place of USLC legend Solomon Asante, whose 32 years nearly double that of the Indy debutante. Sanchez immediately got on the ball and played a nice spell of possession with fellow Academy signing and Hoosier native Ecris Revolorio that resulted in a shot from distance by Sanchez that forced Van Oekel into a save. Three minutes of stoppage time produced two more impressive saves by Lewis, a big left palm to stone Johnny Dean standing out in particular amongst his new career-best 10 saves on the night.
2022 USL Championship Regular Season – Matchday 34
Birmingham Legion FC` 3 : 1 Indy Eleven
Wednesday, October 12, 2022,
Protective Stadium – Birmingham, Ala.
Indy Eleven: 12W-17L-5D (-14 GD), 41 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference
Birmingham Legion FC: 17W-10L-7D (+19 GD), 58 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference
BHM – Enzo Martínez (Jonathan Dean) 25′
BHM – Prosper Kasim (Enzo Martínez) 28′
BHM – Marlon Santos (penalty kick) 61′
IND – Stéfano Pinho (unassisted) 83
IND– Neveal Hackshaw (red card) 46+’
BHM– Anderson Asiedu (yellow card) 55’
IND– Jared Timmer (yellow card) 57’
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Sean Lewis; Robby Dambrot, A.J. Cochran, Mechack Jerome, Ecris Revolorio; Neveal Hackshaw (captain), Jesus Vazquez, Jared Timmer (Ayoze 70’), Solomon Asante (Diego Sanchez 87’); Juan Tejada, (Wilfredo Rivera 70’), Manuel Arteaga (Stéfano Pinho 83’)
IND substitutes: Tim Trilk (GK); Raul Aguilera
Birmingham Legion FC (4-2-3-1): Matt Van Oekel; Jacob Rufe, Phanuel Kavita (captain), Alex Crognale, Jonathan Dean; Zachary Herivaux (Matthew Corcoran 66’), Anderson Asiedu (Mikey Lopez 62’); Marlon Santos (Ryan James 77’), Enzo Martínez (Bruno Lapa 76’), Prosper Kasim (Sadik Balarabe 77’); Juan Agudelo
BHM Substitutes: Trevor Spangenberg (GK); Mataeo Bunbury