The Indy Eleven started off their first USL campaign with a 1-0 victory over the Richmond Kickers. The Boys in Blue kept a clean sheet in Virginia at City Stadium, handing the Kickers their eighth loss in 26 home-openers.
Indiana’s team did not participate in week one fixtures, instead finishing the preseason against Indiana
Wesleyan University. The team finished the preseason with four wins in six games. The Saturday evening win was the Eleven’s inaugural USL match.
“I knew they would be difficult to play against,” Coach Rennie said, who recorded his first win with the Indy Eleven. “I was very happy that we managed to get the win and get off to a good winning start this season.”
The Kickers were coming off a 4-1 loss at the hands of Bethlehem Steel last week in week one. In week two against the Eleven, Richmond was missing five players due to suspension and national team call-ups. The most noticeable absence was Jamaican forward Dane Kelley, the 2017 USL MVP and Golden Boot winner.
The Eleven controlled the first half of play, outshooting the Kickers 6-3 with a favorable 3-0 shots-on-
target ratio. Soony Saad nearly broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, but Saad’s header was cleared off the line. Just before the half, Jack McInerney scored the first and only goal of the fixture in the 41 minute after finishing a cross from Saad with his hip.
“One of things we have been working on is switching diagonal balls and getting crosses in the back post and that’s exactly how the goal came.”
The grittiness from the first half carried into the second half, but the stinginess of the Eleven backline proved too much for the Kickers. Reiner Ferreira and Carlyle Mitchell refused to let the Kickers get anything from the wings into the box. The pair allowed only four of 18 Kicker crosses to be completed.
The last ten minutes of the game proved to be a tense affair. Both teams accumulated three cards. Kicker Fred Owusu Sekyere received two yellows cards seven minutes apart, resulting in a sending off. One minute after that, the Eleven’s Ferreira received a yellow for a hard foul just outside the Indy box. The Kicker’s last-ditch effort set piece to tie the game amounted to nothing, though.
Brad Ring made his first appearance in the final 10 minutes. Ring is the last remaining member of the 2014 inaugural Indy Eleven squad and one of three players signed from last season’s squad. Juan Guerra and Justin Braun also made appearances. Saturday’s game was Braun’s first appearance for the Indy Eleven since his ankle injury in 2017.
The Boys in Blue will have plenty to work on in training during the week. The Brickyard Battalion will cheer on the Eleven against cross-state rivals F.C. Cincinnati on March 31. Kick-off is set to take place at 7 p.m.