Story by John Wikman
The world’s game came back home again to Indiana on Saturday, as the Indy Eleven took the home pitch for their second campaign in the North American Soccer League. Last year saw an incredible growth in interest in the sport and in the team from all over the midwest, if not an incredible growth in the win column. This season aims to be not just a different chapter, but a different story altogether.
Last year’s squad fielded at least six starters who had never seen the pitch as professionals. This year’s rookie tally: zero. Still backed by veteran German goalkeeper Kristian Nicht, the Eleven started their 2015 season against the New York Cosmos, who brought with them internationally renowned forward and Real Madrid all-time top goal scorer, Raúl.
The match was the tale of two halves. The first half was relatively even, with some spectacular scoring chances by both sides. The Eleven opened the account first off of a Brian Brown chip after an awkward clearance attempt by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.
The Cosmos made good adjustments coming out of the half, however, and the Eleven were unable to keep pace. Then Raúl. That really is all that needs to be said. With 323 career goals for Real Madrid, he is one of the rare breed of players who just seems to have a nose for goal. He doesn’t know where to be, he feels where to be. A glancing header in the 65th knotted the match at 1, where it would eventually finish.
The Eleven started the 2014 season with a pair of 1-1 even results, and have started the 2015 campaign similarly. Next up is an away match against defending NASL champions San Antonio Scorpions. The next home match comes in two weeks against the Carolina Railhawks on April 25.