The agony of defeat at home continues to dog Indy Eleven.
The team won its fall season opener on July 12 in an away game against the Carolina RailHawks, but Saturday the team fell at home as the hotly contested but ultimately uneven match concluded 2-1 — with the Rowdies delivering their kill shot in the 89th minute. Uneven because, while Indy had more attacks (64 to Tampa's 53) and even tallied 53 percent of the possession, Tampa had 35 dangerous attacks to Indy's 23. Coupled with some unfortunate defensive lapses and unconsummated opportunities in front of the Rowdies' goal, the match ended in disappointment for the hometown crowd.
The Rowdies' offense came out strong against Indy in the first half, with wave upon wave of attack, but Indy's Brazilian star Kléberson put the first point of the evening on the board 38 minutes into match, assisted by Blake Smith. The Rowdies, however, scored their equalizer within five minutes, leaving the score tied at the half.
Both teams came out fighting in the second half, but Georgi Hristov capitalized on a pass crossed from teammate Brian Shriver less than two minutes before the end of regulation time, sucking the life out of the stadium.
A sell-out crowd of 10,555 — the second-highest attendance following the team's inaugural spring season opener on April 12 — packed the stands.
On a brighter note, the fans were able to show their appreciation for DaMarcus Beasley, an Indiana native who anchored the left side of the U.S. Men's National Team in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Beasley, who joined the pre-game festivities at the Eleven game, also spent time during his trip home to visit with his family and campers attending the Beasley National Soccer School in Fort Wayne.
Following the game, Indy defender Jaime Frias offered a straightforward assessment of what he is seeing on the field.
"We always lose on our own mistakes," Frias said. "We had chances to win that we didn't score."
The final 10 minutes the defense should have been clearing long balls in instead of trying to play the ball out with shorter passes of the back, Frias observed, noting that the team as a whole must be more concentrated during the last 10 minutes.
"it's little things we have to figure out," he said.
NUVO also asked defender Eric Norales for his analysis. He observed that in the first 30 minutes of the game, Tampa Bay owned the attack, coming at Indy again and again. But, he said, Indy stayed focused and proved they could absorb the pressure. To take their game to the next level, Norales said the players must have "more faith in ourselves having the ball; everybody needs to have better personality in having the ball and not being afraid to get it."