Indy Eleven took a lead against a Major League Soccer opponent for the second game in a row, but the lead was short-lived as defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City rallied to post a 3-1 victory over the expansion North American Soccer League side in a preseason scrimmage of 105 minutes at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.
“We had a great start, and I thought our group was very composed and stayed in the match even after we went behind,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Juergen Sommer. “We had one or two defensive breakdowns that did come back to bite us, but we were also able to create some chances of our own on the attacking side. I think the camaraderie of the group is starting to show after being together for the last week, so across the board we are pleased with our progress.”
A “dream start” might not be fitting enough to describe the first minute for Indy Eleven, as the NASL squad went up just 20 seconds into the match. A pair of trialists hooked up on the play, as center back “R. Tipton” (aliases utilized for trialists) sent a ball over the Sporting KC backline and down the right flank for onrushing forward “B. Elkhart.” Noticing Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was off his line, the striker took a first-time shot that dipped under the crossbar and inside the far left post to put the Hoosier State side up 1-0 before some players could even blink.
The early tally clearly got Sporting’s attention, and a line-up that featured the bulk of the starters from last December’s MLS Cup began to pile up chance after chance in attack. Argentine striker and Designated Player Claudio Bieler would even things up at 1-1 in the ninth minute, when his first time strike off a cut-back pass from defender Seth Sinovic cut through traffic and beat Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht inside his left post. Two minutes later it was forward C.J. Sapong giving Sporting the lead, as he finished off a pass from U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Graham Zusi at the doorstep to push the MLS outfit in front.
Sporting KC would keep the pressure coming, but Nicht would come up big to keep things at 2-1 heading into the break, his stop on Bieler’s header from 10 yards out in the 41st minute marking the highlight of the half for the German keeper. However, it was Kansas City returning the favor in the quick goal category at the start of the second half, as midfielder Sal Zizzo would finish from six yards out just 15 seconds into the second stanza to push the KC advantage to 3-1 in the 46th minute.
After a “line change” for both teams at the hour mark, an Indy Eleven unit consisting mostly of trialists and guest players would keep things even over the last 45 minutes – and were unlucky not to cut into the lead. The right post was kind to the Kansas City down the stretch, as both trialist forward “S. Monroe” and midfielder Don Smart would strike the woodwork in the final 15 minutes, beating KC ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum only to see their efforts bounce back into play.
The Indiana’s team, that begins its inaugural season in this upcoming April, concludes its tour of the Grand Canyon State slate on Wednesday, February 12, back in Tucson when takes on the Portland Timbers for an 8:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. MT kick-off.
Preseason Scrimmage (105 minutes)
02.07.2014: Tucson, Arizona; Kino Sports Complex
SPORTING KANSAS CITY - INDY ELEVEN 3-1 (3-1)
Claudio BIELER 9’; C.J. SAPONG 11’; Sal ZIZZO 46’ - B. ELKHART 1’
Sporting Kansas City: Eric Kronberg - Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Paulo Nagamura, Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber, C.J. Sapong , Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi.
Subs Used: Andy Gruenebaum - Peter Schmetz, Mechack Jerome, Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum, Christian Duke, Soony Saad , Alex Martinez, Jacob Peterson, Dom Dwyer, Sal Zizzo, Adnan Gabeljic. Booked: Schmetz 75’
TD: Peter VERMES
Indy Eleven: Kristian Nicht - *E. Cass, *R. Tipton, *F. Jefferson, Kyle Hyland, Pedro Mendes, Brad Ring, *M. Crawford, Walter Ramirez; Mike Ambersley *B. Elkhart.
Subs Used: *D. Jasper - Chris Wey, *S. Allen, *S. DuBois, Baba Omosegbon; Don Smart, *B. Jennings, *R. Gibson, *M. Shelby; *S. Monroe, *S. Jay. Booked: E. Cass 56’
TD: Juergen SOMMER
Photo - @reidjsphoto