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Indy Takes Positives as Undefeated Run Continues

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/19/18, 6:23AM EDT


Scoreless draw against Fury FC kept the Eleven well-placed for postseason berth

OTTAWA – The road to the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs for Indy Eleven hasn’t always been marked by victories, but in the club’s 0-0 draw against Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 5,393 fans at TD Place the Eleven earned a point that should prove valuable as the club progresses toward the postseason.

And yet, it was also a game where the visitors could have claimed all three points if not for near-misses that summed up the game overall. Soony Saad twice hit the woodwork in the second half – the first time he had done so this season according to Opta – in a display that saw the visitors bring plenty of attacking initiative.

“It was a game where we played well,” said Indy Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We possessed the ball well and dominated long spells of the game. We created some good chances; We hit the woodwork three times. We just didn’t get the goal. … Overall, it was a good point. It keeps us on a good run.”

Chicago Fire forward Elliot Collier made his first start for Indy Eleven on Saturday following his recent loan from the Chicago Fire. | Photo courtesy Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography / Ottawa Fury FC

The Eleven are now undefeated in their last four outings and have taken eight points over that span to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference and remain a point ahead of Fury FC. The side is in the middle of a busy span of seven games between this past Wednesday’s 3-2 victory against North Carolina FC and a visit from the New York Red Bulls II on Sept. 5 which will see it make up games in hand on the teams surrounding it with 11 games still to go in its regular season.

With the Eleven sitting on 36 points – level with fifth-place Bethlehem Steel FC going into Saturday night’s action but only two points ahead of ninth-place Nashville SC ahead of its meeting with Louisville City FC – there’s not much scoreboard watching to be done yet for Rennie and his staff. 

“The league’s very tight,” said Rennie. “You spend a lot of time watching the table and it’s probably not going to really help you that much.”

Ottawa had arguably the two biggest chances to break the deadlock despite Indy holding a sizeable edge in possession and a narrow edge in total shots. Tony Taylor was brilliantly stopped by Indy goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams with 10 minutes to go in the first half on a point-blank header the Welsh shot-stopper just turned over the crossbar, while Steevan Dos Santos failed to convert from the penalty spot for the first time this season on the hour-mark, hitting the left post with his shot.

The overall manner of the game, however, left Fury FC Nikola Popovic positive about his side’s direction as it makes its own playoff push.

“Our opponent is probably one of the best teams in USL,” said Popovic. “Being able to change three players [in our formation from Wednesday’s game] and being able to fight with them gives us an indication that this team is getting stronger and stronger.”

With a long road to navigate over the next few weeks, though, Rennie’s side is well-placed to capitalize on its current momentum.

Ottawa Fury FC forward Steevan Dos Santos hit the post from the penalty spot as the side's game with Indy Eleven ended scoreless. | Photo courtesy Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography / Ottawa Fury FC

“We’re in a good position to catch the team’s above us,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of games in-hand; Bethlehem Steel are three games ahead of us and we have the same points, for example. It’s important that you keep focusing on what we’re doing, keep playing well, keep picking up points, keep picking up wins and we’ll keep rising up the table.” 

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