This was the eleventh meeting with Indy Eleven and it was yet another classic Cosmos-Indy match-up. Yes, it’s only the fourth full season that both teams have been in existence, but in the total of ten previous meetings between these teams, seven have been draws. That includes six consecutive ties over two seasons to begin the rivalry. Add to that the fact that this Indy Eleven team opened up the current Spring season with, you guessed it, six consecutive draws and suddenly predicting tonight’s result didn’t seem so much like rocket science.
It was also a Cosmos performance that brought few surprises and largely summed up the frustrations of the Spring season. Again, the Cosmos were compact in midfield, again they dominated possession and linked up beautifully in the build up. And again they lacked a killer touch in front of goal and solidity at the back.
The Cosmos, as they have done all season, threatened early, though mostly from range. Richter and Restrepo worked the right flank, but their crosses were from deep and couldn’t find the target of Pablo Vranjicán, who was starting in Cosmos jersey for the first time. Emanuel Ledesma, like his opposite number Justin Braun was forced to drop deep to get anything of the ball, forcing long shots if any at all.
But Indy, like many teams the Cosmos have faced this season, had done their homework and looked to hit on the counter attack. With the Cosmos fullbacks Mulligan and Richter committing themselves forward, Indy were able threaten on the break. The front two of Braun and Eamon Zayed regularly caused worrisome moments for a defensive duo of Barnes and Ochieng that didn’t seem at ease.
But it was Zayed and Braun who were the foil for the opening goal as Indy left winger Ben Speas popped up on the right to take advantage of another defensive hesitation to slot past Jimmy Maurer into the bottom left corner.
And it really should have been 2-0 at the half. Indy’s Nemanja Vukokic was given far too much time to line up a pinpoint cross to Eamon Zayed. The unmarked Libyan international looked certain to score, before Jimmy Maurer once again showed why he is a fan favourite.
The New York Originals made one change at half time. Walter Restrepo, who was having a very Restrepo-like game (a lot of fruitless hustle) made way for Eugene Starikov who seemed to at least stretch the Indy backline a little. Again it was mostly Cosmos, and again they struggled to be incisive. Gio Savarses rolled the dice with two more changes (one enforced) as Eric Calvillo came in for an injured Ayoze while Cosmos B forward Bljedi Bardic made his first team debut in place of Vranjicán.
While Jimmy Maurer once more kept his side in touching distance, Starikov and Ledesma kept testing the Indy defence. Finally is seemed that Ledesma may have broken through, only to be brought down in the box. From my position in the stands, it looked like a borderline call - it could be argued that the ball was too far in front of Ledesma when the foul was committed. But the Argentinian stepped forward to confidently fire his left footed spot kick into the lower right corner.
Man of the Match Jimmy Maurer would once again be called on to deny Justin Braun a chance to snatch the points, and though the Cosmos flirted with Cardiac mode in added time, this one would end in yet another one-all draw. The fifth such result in the history of this fixture.
There was no sign tonight of Kobi Mayal or Lucky Mkosana tonight, one can only assume they are still working towards match fitness, or Gio is waiting until the mid season break to bring them in. But we did see two of the Cosmos B side make tonight’s bench, defender Danilo Radjen joining the aforementioned Bardic.
The Cosmos have a chance to rebound from dropping points at home by taking them straight back from Indy on the road on Saturday in the penultimate game of the Spring season. But you can guarantee the odds will be rather short on it ending in a draw.