Quality Chances Abound, but Goalkeepers Stand Tall in First International Friendly for “Indiana’s Team”
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, June 28, 2015) – Today’s historic first international friendly in Indy Eleven club history against Monarcas Morelia saw numerous quality chances created by both teams, but in the end it was top-notch play by four different goalkeepers that highlighted the eventual 0-0 draw. The duel between the North American Soccer League and Liga MX (Mexican first division) squads unfolded in front of 6,450 fans on a picture-perfect afternoon for soccer at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium.
In a first half that seesawed back in forth in terms of possession quality attempts, Indy Eleven earned the first chance of quality in the 7thminute by way of Wojciech Wojcik. Indy defender Jaime Frias sent in a swinging cross from the left corner that found the head of the 6’3” forward, but Wojciech could not keep it on frame, his header drifting over the bar.
Two minutes later it was Wojciech’s running mate up top looking to earn a chance of his own, as Brian Brown made a threatening run into the Morelia penalty area. The Jamaican international snuck past multiple defenders and looked to be tripped up by a defenseman, forcing his shot to roll weakly to Morelia starting ‘keeper Cirilo Saucedo. Brown pleaded to the center official for a penalty to be called, but his shouts were to no avail.
The “Boys in Blue” continued to hold their own in the midfield as the half went on and found themselves time-after-time with chances in front of the visitor’s net. The most threatening attack of the first half came at the half-hour mark off an Osman Melgares corner that fell to the foot of Brown, who made a lunging attempt to put the ball on frame from six yards out, only to see Saucedo stand his ground and cover up.
Monarcas Morelia would get the bulk of their chances in the half’s final quarter-hour, starting with in the 33rd minute when forward Mauro Cejas slotted a pass ahead of Carlos Ochoa that left him one-on-one with Indy netminder Kristian Nicht. Ochoa made an attempt to slide the ball past Nicht into the bottom right corner of the goal, but Nicht’s extended left leg made the stop and helped the game to its eventual halftime score of 0-0.
Both teams reconstructed their lineups out of halftime and continued to jostle for possession as the second half began, and it would be Morelia who took their possession positively first. Following a foul by Eleven midfielder Daniel Keller just outside of the penalty area in the 65th minute, the “Monarchs” set up for a free kick from 23 yards out in front of substitute Eleven goalkeeper Keith Cardona, who saw action last week via loan duty with the USL’s Wilmington Hammerheads. Morelia midfielder Dieter Villalpando stood over the ball and fired a bouncing shot that had Cardona beat, but fortunately for the home side the ball caromed off the lower left post and just eluded a follow-up run by an onrushing Morelia attacker before being cleared from danger.
Indy Eleven would work its way into the second half and began to push harder for the first goal of the match, evidenced in the 72nd minute when Brown opened up space inside the Morelia box for a shot. The curling ball nearly got past Morelia substitute ‘keeper Felipe Rodriguez, but he acrobatically dove to push the ball out for an Indy Eleven corner kick that did not cause much harm.
As time in the match wound down, both teams relentlessly made runs into the attacking third of their counterparts for the first goal. Morelia nearly broke the tie in the 84th minute when Oscar Fernandez found space 10 yards out and headed towards goal, but Cardona was not forced to move much and saved it routinely.
Indy Eleven midfielder Osman Melgares would have two tremendous opportunities to move the scoreboard in the closing minutes, first on an 88th minute free kick that curled nicely to the upper right hand corner of the frame, only to see Rodriguez come flying over to prevent the goal by tipping the ball over his goal with one hand. Then in the 90th minute Megares found himself on the end of a loose ball 10 yards out, but his shot with his weaker right-foot was again saved by the active Rodriguez on his line.
Ultimately, in a highly contested friendly that saw 43 different players compete in the action, neither team’s attacks would produce enough to ripple the back of the net, forcing the historic affair to conclude in an entertaining, yet scoreless draw.
With the NASL’s midseason break now complete, the "Boys in Blue" will re-enter league play next Sunday July 5, with the biggest of tests, the Fall Season opener sending Indy Eleven to Long Island to take on the Spring Season champion New York Cosmos (7:00 p.m. ET, live on WISH-TV 8 and ESPN3.com). The team's home opener in Fall Season play comes appropriately enough, on Saturday, July 11, when Indy Eleven plays host to the Carolina RailHawks at "The Mike" (7:30 p.m. ET kickoff, live on WISH-TV 8, ESPN3.com and Exitos Radio 1590 AM). Tickets for the match are available starting for just $10 at IndyEleven.com.
QUOTE SHEET – INDY ELEVEN HEAD COACH TIM REGAN
On the play of Brian Brown:
“It wasn’t the original plan, but as the game went on we thought that he would benefit from playing a full 90 minutes to keep getting himself around goal more and get used to the good movement that he’s shown in and around the box. Perhaps he could take a chance or two better, but I thought the quality of the runs and the work rate were great.”
On getting some extended minutes for players that haven’t seen much lately in league play:
“It’s important for those players because they need to get back into form. Their turn will come. I don’t know when and they don’t know when, but they will get a chance again. It might be July 5th and it might be July 11th, or who knows, but today they showed that they are ready to go.”
On evenness of the match…
“The first half was quite even. The second half probably leans a little more towards [Morelia], but I thought for both teams there were enough chances to score and enough chances to concede. At 0-0 in their stage of the preseason and for us getting ready for the fall, I thought it worked out well for both teams.”
Indy Eleven (NASL) 0 : 0 Monarcas Morelia (Liga MX)
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
MOR: Joel Huiqui (caution) 23’
MOR: Armando Zamorano (caution) 76’
IND: Cory Miller (caution) 82’
MOR: Enrique Perez (caution) 87’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2): Kristian Nicht (Keith Cardona 45’); Jaime Frias (Kyle Hyland 59’), Erick Norales (C) (Cory Miler 45’), Greg Janicki, Marco Franco (Judson McKinney 45’); Brad Ring (Daniel Keller 45’), Victor Pineda (Don Smart 45’), Dragan Stojkov (Dylan Mares 45’), Osman Melgares; Brian Brown, Wojciech Wojcik (Duke Lacroix 45’)
Indy Bench: Jon Dawson (GK)
Monarcas Morelia line-up (5-3-2): Cirilo Saucedo (Felipe Rodriguez 45’); Facundo Erpen (Hibert Ruiz 45’), Joel Huiqui (Antonio Olvera 45’), Carlos Calvo (Oscar Fernandez 67’), Carlos Morales (C) (Christian Valdez 45’), Ignacio Gonzalez (Christian Cruz 45’); Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Enrique Perez 45’), Christian Pellerano (Erick Aguirre 59’), Rodrigo Millar (Armando Zamorano 35’); Mauro Cejas (Dieter Villalpando 35’), Carlos Ochoa (Miguel Sansores 59’)
Morelia Bench: N/A