Wednesday night was a historic one for Indy Eleven as the team beat Dayton Dutch Lions 5-2 in the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. Not only did they win their first game at home this season, but they also won their debut in the storied U.S. Open Cup. The Eleven’s next challenge in their U.S Open Cup campaign is Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, whom they lost to 4-1 in a scrimmage in late 2013. The game will take place on June 17th at FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, OH.
Indy Eleven has become victim to the trend of allowing an early first goal (or two) in league play so far this season. A combination of early mistakes and falling asleep on defense has forced the team into playing a game of catch-up in five of the seven games this season. Things were different tonight. The Eleven were able to clean it up in the back, overcome its own demons, and buck the trend of allowing early goals by shutting out Dayton in the first half.
The strong performance and first win of the season will go a long ways towards team morale and confidence going forward. This first win was vital in pushing the team over the hump they’ve been struggling to get over. And even though the Eleven have just this lone win so far this season, they’re a much better team than their record shows.
Indy Eleven have played very well this season, but just a few defensive mistakes in each game have led to less-than-desired results. The goals and the results in the attacking third were showcased Wednesday night, but everything hasn’t clicked on the fringes between the middle and defensive thirds.
“We can score goals, that hasn’t been our problem,” Coach Jurgen Sommer said. “Our problem is defensively, whether it’s collectively as a team or individual personal responsibilities at certain moments of the game, we haven’t been good enough.”
“I think what happens is you start to bang a few goals in, the guys start to relax a little bit, and we got caught on a couple quick breaks, which we shouldn’t have.” he said. “But, you know those are learning moments for us to prepare for the weekend.”
The defensive effort is what needs to be cleaned up if the team wants to be at the top of the league table. It’s improving and was evident last week as the team battled the New York Cosmos to a 1-1 tie on the road. The defense was much improved in that game, with the only major hiccup coming on a 4th minute goal when the backline didn’t appear to be awake just yet. Jurgen explained the team will continue to focus on the defensive play as a main point in training as the season continues.
“The fact that they broke us down twice for two goals still shows we have a ways to go as a unit and individually in certain defensive moments that we just need to get better on.”
Indy Eleven has the right personnel, but they need everyone to have their best collective efforts to build on this win and continue this momentum into the final two games of the 2014 spring season. The Eleven host the second-place San Antonio Scorpions this Saturday night, and will travel to Atlanta the following weekend to take on the Silverbacks. Finishing out the season strong and bringing home the full six points is doable, but the defensive effort has to be there to make it happen. No more early mistakes, no more ball watching, no more early goals.