The boys in blue were back home Saturday afternoon at Carroll Stadium to kick off their home opener against Puerto Rico FC in front of a sold out crowd. After coming off a draw the previous Saturday night against San Francisco Deltas with a score of 1-1, the Indy Eleven came out ready to “cue the smoke.”
A few minutes into the match the Eleven took advantage and put one into the back of the net. A beautiful pass from Nemanja Vukovic set up Justin Braun placing the ball right on Braun’s forehead, and he buried it for the Eleven. This wouldn’t be the last time the Eleven would score in the first half.
Not taking too much time after their first goal of the game, newcomer Ben Speas received a pass from Braun, and was able to sneak behind Puerto Rico’s defense as Puerto Rico was looking for an offside flag. Speas was able to take advantage as he was able to chip the keeper and get it past him to make the Eleven up 2-0.
With time counting down until halftime, Puerto Rico’s Conor Doyle was able to beat the Indy netminder, as he beat goalie Jon Busch at the far post to make it 2-1. With a few minutes to go in the first half Puerto Rico was awarded a penalty. They would take advantage as Hector Ramos couldn’t put it past Busch on the first try, but was able to slam it in off a rebound. Indy would head into halftime with the game tied at 2-2.
The second half would start with back and forth play, as both teams would have their chance to take advantage. Puerto Rico was the first to capitalize as they were awarded another penalty. Busch would take down Jairo Puerto, setting up a goal by Walter Ramirez as he was able to stand over the spot kick and send Busch the other way.
Indy had plenty of chances to claw their way back, but couldn’t take advantage until late in the second. With under ten minutes to play, Craig Henderson would make a pass to Braun who fired it past Puerto Rico to tie it up at 3-3 and send Carroll stadium into an uproar. With under five minutes to go, Braun would again put it in the back of the net, but the flag came up and Indy was called for offsides. The game ended in a 3-3 tie, and the Eleven would extend their home winning streak to 19 games at “The Mike.”
The Eleven had plenty of chances, and head coach Tim Hankinson wasn’t too happy with the way his guys let the lead slip away.
“I have to say I’m very disappointed in our group. We had a miraculous start with it being 2-0, as it got to 2-0 we saw a very high level of concentration and intensity and that play dropped off. The ball stopped moving, guys were standing around and that’s an attitude that is basically relaxing and the game is going to be easy, but the game is never easy.”
Though, starting off with two ties for the season, coach Hankinson sounded confident.
“Same one as last year, we won the spring title with it. We hope we can build off this, use it as a confidence builder. It was the sloppy play for the 20 minutes that gave the points away, and hopefully this is a hard lesson, but an important lesson for the guys.”
Braun, who had 2 goals was also disappointed with the loss.
“It’s disappointing anytime you play at home you want to earn 3 points.” Braun also feels like his team is on the right track though. “You know we started out with two ties last year, Obviously there’s a few things to work on and build on, but you’re never going to be perfect once the season starts. It’s a good start for us and we will keep building and working and hopefully those three points will keep coming.”
The Indy Eleven will play at home again on Saturday April 22 at 3 p.m.