It’s Official: Unbeaten Indy Eleven Secure NASL Spring Season Title

IMAGE, INDY ELEVEN/TREVOR RUSZKOWSKI

by JAKE NUTTING

As rousing as Indy Eleven’s thrilling 4-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks to erase the New York Cosmos’ goal differential lead in the Spring Season race was on Saturday night, it wasn’t enough on its own to clinch the title for the Midwest club.

They needed to wait on the final whistle in a match played in the Canadian Prairies between the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton to find out if they could officially claim their first-ever trophy. Fortunately for Indy, the Strikers needed an unlikely six-goal win to pull off a miracle of their own but ultimately came up short with in 2-1 loss to the Eddies.

Indy’s Spring Season title is the first piece of hardware in the young history of the third-year club, but perhaps more importantly, it also ensures their first spot in The Championship — the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament in the fall.

Indy’s path to the spring championship this year is similar to the one taken by last year’s champions, the Cosmos, as both teams went unbeaten in the league’s short ten-game competition to claim the trophy. The Cosmos made it through unscathed with five wins and five draws last year, while Indy prevailed with four wins and six draws.

It was a steady and consistent spring for Indy, although it took a massive offensive explosion on the final weekend of the season to lift them above a crowded table of contenders. Forward Eamon Zayed equaled his entire spring goal total in Indy’s final match with a clutch hat trick to overtake the Cosmos and plant himself atop the league’s leading scorers.

Jacksonville Armada FC 1-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies

After playing to an uneventful opening half under the hot afternoon sun, the first meeting between the Rowdies and Armada FC of the year burst open in the first seconds of the second half. Defender Shawn Nicklaw left his studs in to dig into the ankle of Joe Cole on a tackle at the halfway line and saw a straight red card as a result.

It was Jacksonville who found the back of the net first, though. Looking to catch the Rowdies on a counter attack, substitute Charles Eloundou fed a long ball to Junior Sandoval and the midfielder chested it down outside the box before firing a superb volley to the far post. Up a man and down a goal, the Rowdies pushed numbers forward but only managed to muster an equalizer in the dying moments on an excellent long range effort from Junior Burgos.

Ottawa Fury FC 1-1 Rayo OKC

A mishap in the 2′ minute put Ottawa in a hole that they would be chasing to erase in front of their home crowd. Recent acquisition Mallan Roberts let a pass back from Kyle Porter slip by his foot in the center of the field and Rayo OKC’s Ian Svantesson made him pay. The center back attempted to recover but Svantesson was too quick and forcefully shot the giveaway opportunity past Romuald Peiser.

Tensions were high in the spring finale as Ottawa’s Paul Dalglish was ejected from the sideline for directing his anger at the opposing coaching staff after a reckless challenge from Rayo OKC in the 27th. Even without Dalglish directing from the sideline, Ottawa kept inching closer to an equalizer and found one in the 69th minute through an outstanding curling free kick from Carl Haworth that clipped the inside of the post and crossed the line.

Minnesota United 3-1 Miami

After stumbling with three loses in their last three league outings, Minnesota took advantage of a match up with the league’s last-place team. Miami came into the match having blanked opponents in three straight, but that newfound stoutness on defense was no match for a Minnesota side that was hungry to end the spring on a positive note.

The expansion side survived the first wave of pressure from the Loons in the opening half, but the dam finally broke a minute into the second half.  Christian Ramirez recorded the first of the night and his fifth of the season by heading home a chip from Ben Speas. Stefano Pinho then doubled the lead in the 52nd minute with a leap into the air on the far post to chest the ball across the line on a cross from Kevin Venegas.

Miami made things interesting in the 66th as Jaime Chavez connected with a clever flick past Sammy Ndjock on a feed from Dario Cvitanich. The Loons, though, held firm and bagged an insurance goal in stoppage time through a finish from Ibson.

FC Edmonton 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

With an outside shot at knocking off Indy Eleven for the top spot in the spring, Fort Lauderdale went into Edmonton looking for some serious attacking output but instead found themselves in a two-goal hole at the close of the first half.

Forward Jake Keegan was the man responsible for putting the Strikers down early. Daryl Fordyce set Keegan up with a dangerous through ball into the final third and the attacker did well to bury his finish past Diego Restrepo in a one-on-one. Keegan’s second in the 31st was more the result of luck and courage than skill. An arching cross in front of goal set up an aerial duel and Keegan came out the winner as neither Restrepo nor Gale Agbossoumonde were strong enough to clear. The cross ricocheted off the back of Keegan and crossed the line uncontested.

The Strikers pulled one back early in the second half when PC converted a penalty drawn after Ramon Nunez was was pulled down in the box by Papé Diakite.

  • Smurf040

    The fix was in! Lol!

  • slowleftarm

    It’s official – the global brand can’t even beat minor league teams now.

    • William

      Its official I am a pathetic loser as my future gets dimmer by the minute.

      • slowleftarm

        William – we’ve known you are a pathetic loser since the first time you posted on here.

        • William

          Thanks for the fake post of me Slow ! Effin moron you have singlehandedly ruined EOS comments section pathetic POS

          • slowleftarm

            If I don’t post here, no one does. But I would never post as someone else.

            • William

              You have done it in the past – this is fact ! Quit doing it !!!

  • William

    Indy deserved this. They had a great Spring season. Glad the Cosmos got that great win vs Eibar; it seemingly cost them the Spring title.

  • OpenCupFan

    Should Slow being watching a track meet?

    • OpenCupFan

      *shouldn’t

      • slowleftarm

        Two errors in a seven word sentence?

        • William

          your whole life is an error and STOP POSTING AS ME !!!!!! jackass

          • slowleftarm

            Wasn’t me – I would never post as someone else. That’s bush league.

            And of course, you ignore the topic of this article – Cosmos failures.

            • William

              Read my comments I already commented on this article. I know its a unique concept for u. Reading is fundamental but comprehension is key. Thanks for your usual lame contribution to the discussion. One trick pony SLOW u need a new act guy its tired and old.

              • slowleftarm

                Oh I thought that post about Eibar was also from the impostor because it didn’t sound like you – it’s written in coherent English.

                • William

                  Prick

            • slowfrontallobe

              Reading is fundamental – the topic is Indy Eleven winning the Spring season.

              But, as a Red Bulls fan, you do qualify as a specialist in failure.

      • Eric B

        You mean the league that is actually honoring a FIFA international window as opposed to the other league that plays right through it?