INDIANAPOLIS – A club-record crowd of 20,251 fans were on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium to welcome Indy Eleven for its home opener, but it took another piece of misfortune for Hartford Athletic for the hosts to claim a 1-0 victory. Here are three takeaways from Saturday night:
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: Hartford Athletic had ridden out most of the first half despite playing a high defensive line that had seemed to ask Indy to drop passes in behind them for Dane Kelly to run onto, but Kelly’s inability to finish and a series of decisive blocks had kept the visitors on level terms. That was until five minutes before halftime, when misfortune struck the expansion side once again. A seemingly innocuous cross by Ayoze saw Nikolaj Lyngø’s attempt to chest the ball back to goalkeeper Jacob Lissek, but the Danish defender got his direction all wrong and ended up scoring an own goal that would decide the game. It’s been a tough start for Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen’s side, and this will only make the atmosphere in training this week that much tougher.
KELLY’S GETTING CLOSE: For its part, Indy probably should have been ahead before Lyngø’s own goal only for Dane Kelly’s finishing to be just a fraction off once again. The USL Championship’s regular-season scoring leader had a big chance early only to be denied by Jacob Lissek when through one-on-one and then hit the right upright late with a chance to ice the game. That was the fourth time Kelly has hit the woodwork this season, the most of any player in the Championship, but if Eleven fans are starting to be concerned about one of their big offseason acquisitions they shouldn’t be. Kelly has typically been a streaky scorer, once he gets one, he may get a few in quick succession. Returning to visit former club the Swope Park Rangers in two weeks could be the moment of breakthrough for the Jamaican international.
BACK INTO THE SWING: Having missed the Eleven’s first two games of the season it didn’t take long for Ayoze to remind everyone how influential he can be for the side as he racked up four key passes including one big chance in his season debut. The 2018 USL Championship All-League selection may have the chance this season to be more of a pure creator this season with Neveal Hackshaw providing the defensive backing on the left on Saturday night, and if so that’s going to mean a lot of good service for Kelly, Thomas Enevoldsen and the rest of Indy’s attacking line.