BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A debut goal by Manuel Arteaga gave Indy Eleven a season-opening 1-0 victory against hosts Birmingham Legion FC on Saturday night as his first-half goal proved the difference at BBVA Field.
After a quiet start, Birmingham almost grabbed the lead in the 14th minute as a miscommunication in the Indy defense saw the ball drop to Legion FC’s J.J. Williams with the net open, but the forward struck his finish just the wrong side of the right post. The hosts threatened again five minutes later as an Alex Crognale header off a corner kick by Bruno Lapa from the right was comfortably saved by Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr.
Indy grabbed the lead just before the half-hour mark, however, as a quick move down the left side played Nicky Law into space near the byline. His cutback into the penalty area found Cammy Smith, whose shot was parried by Birmingham goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel, but Arteaga snapped home the rebound for his first goal in Indy’s colors.
Birmingham tried to pick up the pace in the second half but were afforded few clear chances by the Indy defense. Farr was forced into a save early in the second half by Bruno Lapa, while Williams sent a fizzing shot just over the crossbar from 20 yards after a surging run upfield with 15 minutes to go as the hosts looked for an equalizer. Legion FC was reduced to 10 men with three minutes to go as Williams was sent off, however, which helped Indy see out the remaining minutes to claim all three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
AJ Cochran, Indy Eleven – Cochran put in a strong performance on Indy’s back line in his debut, winning 9 of 10 duels and recording seven clearances while going 5 of 5 in aerial duels for the visitors.
IND – Manuel Arteaga 28’