Indy Eleven fall in its first USL fixture against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1-3. “Boys in Blue” forward Eugene Starikov's second goal in two matches wasn't enough to ward off Tampa's scoring trio.
The Rowdies started strong with an onslaught of offensive pressing in the opening minutes. Tampa's persistence paid off in the 12th minute when forward Stefano Bonomo drilled in the first goal of the evening. A pass from Eleven defender Kevin Venegas missed its mark, which allowed Rowdies forward Junior Flemmings to collect the lose ball. Following a deep run, Flemmings' pass split through Indy's defense and to Bonomo for a shot on frame.
Rowdies widened their lead seven minutes later with another assist from Flemmings. In the 19th minute, Flemmings fed a distant cross to the far left post. Venegas managed to get a touch on the pass, but an unlucky deflection clipped the head of Tampa's leading goal scorer Georgi Hristov and into the back of the net. The goal marked Hristov's fifth of the season, breaking the stalemate between him and veteran midfielder Joe Cole (4).
“Indianan's Team” responded immediately by finding the team's only goal a minute later. Starikov put one behind Rowdies keeper Cody Mizell with a right-footed strike inches in front the goal. The Ukrainian was assisted by defender Tyler Pasher, who sent a short, square pass just before the ball fell out of bounds. The goal marks both Starikov's second of the season and second in back-to-back matches.
Indy nearly leveled the score five minutes into the second half with a strike from Eleven forward Jack McInerney from inside the 18-yard box. Unfortunately, Mizell's deflection and quick scramble to collect ended the danger. The goal was nearly assisted by Eleven midfielder Nico Matern with a high pass from behind the center line.
A massive save from Indy goaltender Owain Fon Williams in the 64th minute kept the “Boys in Blue” from trailing too far behind for much of the match, but Tampa managed to find one more goal before the end of regulation time. Hristov and Flemmings linked up once more, this time, Flemmings found the back of the net. Substitute midfielder Michael Nanchoff and Hristov traded passes along the left before a cross to the top of the six-yard box. Flemmings nodded the fly-ball in near the right post and secured Tampa's third win since newly appointed head coach Neill Collins took charge in May.
The loss to the Rowdies is Indy's third on the road this season. The “Boys in Blue” continue to boast an impressive 4W-3L-2D away record, contributing 14 of the club's 28 points so far this season. Indy remains in sixth place following tonight's results, but the table continues to tighten as several team fight for a spot in the playoffs.
The “Boys in Blue” are on road for the remainder of July. Indy Eleven will take to the pitch again on Thursday, July 26th, for an 11:00 a.m. rematch against Bethlehem Steel FC. “Indiana's Team” will return to Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, August 15, to take on North Carolina FC for Networking Night. Fans can get tickets to the 7:00 p.m. bout by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.
USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 1:3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saturday, July 21, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, Florida
TBR – Stefono Bonomo (Georgi Hristov) 12'
TBR – Georgi Hristov (Junior Flemmings) 19'
IND – Eugene Starikov (Tyler Pasher) 20'
TBR – Junior Flemmings (Georgi Hristov) 89'
TBR – Georgi Hristov (Yellow Card) 29'
IND – Kevin Venegas (Yellow Card) 39'
IND – Nico Matern (Yellow Card) 49'
TBR – Stefano Bonomo (Yellow Card) 54'
TBR – Joe Cole (Yellow Card) 62'
IND – Brad Ring (Yellow Card) 90+2'
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L-->R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Tyler Pasher, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Ring 62'), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra (Seth Moses 68'), Eugene Starikov; Ben Speas, Jack McInerney
Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Rusin, Brad Ring, Ayoze, Zach Steinberger, Amass Amankona, Seth Moses
Tampa Bay Rowdies lineup (4-3-3, L-->R): Cody Mizell (GK); Pape Diakite (Hunter Gorskie 84'), Max Lachowecki, Tamika Mkandawire, Kyle Porter; Junior Flemmings, Georgi Hristov, Joe Cole (C), Dominic Oduro, Kwadwo Poku (Michael Nanchoff 61'); Stefano Bonomo (Afrim Taku 79')
Tampa Bay Rowdies bench: Akira Fitzgerald (GK); Hunter Gorskie, Leo Fernandes, Michael Nanchoff, Afrim Taku, Alex Morrell, Leon Taylor