This reporter, a die-hard soccer fan, and her family went to her favorite hometown soccer bar - the Uptown in Bloomington, Ind. - to join the Bloomington Brickers for our first watch party for an Indy Eleven away game. Alas, the North American Soccer League totally bungled the live feed, crashing several parties around the state.
Fans followed the game instead by Twitter, and some perhaps by radio; others chose to swelter in resentment. Let's hope these issues are resolved by next Saturday, when the Eleven will travel to face Minnesota F.C., NASL's top team having won all three of its games so far this season.
Unable to provide our own eye witness analysis, we'll rely on those fortunate enough to be in Florida tonight to see the game live.
Here's the game summary released by Indy Eleven's communications team:
Despite a furious comeback attempt in the second half, Indy Eleven suffered defeat during its first taste of the road following a 3-2 setback against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium Saturday night.
An early goal from Strikers winger Martin Nuñez was canceled out on a penalty kick from Kleberson in a fast and furious opening 45 minutes. Second half goals from the Strikers' Fafà Picault and Marius Ebbers proved the difference while a late goal from Indy Eleven defender Erick Norales proved merely a consolation.
The Strikers took it to Indy Elven from the opening whistle and got on the board in just the eighth minute. Carlos Salazar spotted Nuñez on the left side of the box and some tricky footwork from the Uruguayan created just enough space for a hard, right-footed shot that went past Kristian Nicht in the Indy Eleven goal.
Indy Eleven was on the back foot following the goal, but equalized after a bit of good fortune. The Strikers were called for a handball in the box and Kleberson stepped up to take the penalty kick. Oka Nikolov guessed correctly on the shot, but the Brazilian's effort was perfectly placed in the bottom right corner. The strike gave the Brazilian World Cup winner his first official goal in an Indy Eleven uniform and drew the match even at 1-1 in the 26th minute.
Indy were encouraged by the goal and stepped up the attack. Mike Ambersley had a chance go wide after a Strikers giveaway in midfield, and Kleberson had a free kick destined for the upper left 90 batted away by a diving Nikolov. Moments later Mark Anderson let rip from distance but a strong hand from Nicht prevented the Strikers from taking the lead.
The visitors had a chance to go ahead at the end of the half but were denied on a goal-line clearance from Justin Chavez. Ambersley pounced on a rebound after Nikolov had raced out of his box to deny an onrushing Indy attacker. Ambersley's first-time effort was hard and low, but Chavez was on the line to make the goal-saving block.
Substitutions proved the difference for the Strikers in the search for more offense, including Fafà Picault, whose introduction injected pace down the right flank. The speedy winger was on hand to head home a pinpoint cross from fellow flanker Ivan Guerrero for his first goal in Strikers colors, giving Fort Lauderdale a 2-1 advantage in the 69th minute.
Guerrero, who led the Strikers in assists last season, moved up to top of the list this season with two on the night. Just four minutes after Picault's goal, German forward Marius Ebbers got on the end of another Guerrero cross from the left to double the host's lead.
The Eleven struck in stoppage time when Ambersley's cross was sent home by Norales - the Honduran international's second goal in as many games - but it was too little too late as the referee blew the final whistle on the restart.
After dropping its first road affair in league play in tough fashion tonight, Indy Eleven (0-1-2, 2 pts.) will get ready to do it all over again next Saturday, May 3, when the squad heads northwest to take on the NASL's leader and lone unblemished team, Minnesota United FC (3-0-0, 9 pts.). Kickoff at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine, Minn., is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.
INDY ELEVEN HEAD COACH JUERGEN SOMMER
On the way the match played out:
"I like the opportunities we created. We had probably half a dozen real good looks on goal, we just didn't finish as many as we should have. And we gave them about as many good looks and they buried three of them. They just had the edge in finishing that we didn't have tonight."
On what Indy Eleven can take from the result:
"It's a learning process for the group. It's tough to take one on the chin like we did tonight, but this is how you move forward and how you build character. Coming on the road I thought we battled well right on through the end. It was good to see Erick Norales get another goal there at the end; it really shows his desire to win and his commitment to the team." On the new faces to the line-up tonight:
"I thought some of the changes in the line-up and new guys available to us, guys like Fejiro [Okiomah], Dylan [Mares] and Ben [Spencer] gave some solid contributions out there tonight. Corby Moore also came in late and did some nice things in the midfield for us."
NASL Spring Season Week 3
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3 : 2 Indy Eleven
Lockhart Stadium - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Weather: 86 degrees, cloudy
FTL - Martin Nuñez 1 (Carlos Salazar 1) 8'
IND - Kleberson 1 (penalty kick) 26'
FTL - Fafà Picault 1 (Iván Guerrero 1) 69'
FTL - Marius Ebbers 1 (Iván Guerrero 2) 73'
IND - Erick Norales 2 (Mike Ambersley 1) 90'+4
IND - Pedro Mendes (caution) 21'
IND - Kleberson (caution) 42'
FTL - Pecka (caution) 64'
IND - Kyle Hyland (caution) 78'
IND - Erick Norales (caution) 90'
Indy Eleven (4-2-3-1) - 24-Kristian Nicht (C); 23-Fejiro Okiomah (13-Corby Moore- 83); 5-Erick Norales, 3-Jaime Frias, 18-Kyle Hyland; 4-Brad Ring, 8-Kleberson; 9-Perdo Mendes (17-Ben Spencer- 60), 22-Dylan Mares (7-Don Smart- 74), 21-Walter Ramirez; 15-Mike Ambersley
Unused substitutes: 35-Jon Dawson, 2-Andrew Stone, 6-Chris Estridge, 12-A.J. Corrado
Head Coach: Juergen Sommer
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-2-3-1) - 1-Oka Nikolov; 21-Darnell King, 13-Justin Chavez, 2-Stefan Antonijevic, 12-Iván Guerrero (C); 8-Pecka, 6-Chris Nurse; 20-Mark Anderson (17-Shawn Chin- 68), 14-Carlos Salazar (11-Fafà Picault- 64), 9-Martin Nuñez; 19-Marius Ebbers (29-Yaikel Perez- 84)
Unused substitutes: 22-Lionel Brown, 5-Matt Hall, 23-Manny Gonzalez, 27-Colin Murphy, Head Coach: Günter Kronsteiner
Officials: Referee- Daniel Fitzgerald; Assistant Referees- Lance Vanhaitsma, Paul Berg; Fourth Official- Jose Da Silva