WESTFIELD – Many firsts are common with a new sporting franchise-but the one the Indy Eleven had last Saturday is one they’d hoped to avoid.
With 90 minutes gone in their home game against San Antonio, the team appeared on their way to their fourth tie of the season as the final of four extra time minutes ticked down. But then came a defensive error, an opening for a Scorpions offensive player and a rebound for a game-winning goal in literally the final seconds.
A tie that turned into a loss in the span of about 15 seconds-giving the team its first so-called “Heartbreaking” loss of the season.
Yet on Thursday the team was continuing on with its business as before. Head coach Juergen Sommer described it as a good week of training in anticipation of their North American Soccer League spring season finale against Atlanta on Saturday night.
There remains no panic, just patience, as the team still seeks win No. 1 in NASL play.
“We made a critical mistake in injury time that cost us the game that obviously we would like to have back,” said Sommer of the loss to San Antonio. “A good learning experience for our group. Team’s in this league will hurt you if you make mistakes.”
Which the Eleven know they must correct and are more than willing to do with an eye to the future after their first eight games. In those contests the team has tied three times and lost five others but only in one of those defeats have they lost by two or more goals.
One of those ties came against the New York Cosmos on the road-a team that is tied for second in the NASL Standings.
“It takes time,” said midfielder Blake Smith of the Eleven’s building of a franchise. “It’s not something that happens right away, overnight.”
Midfielder Brad Ring agreed, but admits it can be tough for him and his teammates to wait for the success to develop over their first two months as a team.
“All the guys on the team want to win right now, coaches want to win now, the organization-everyone want’s to win now. So it’s tough to kinda look long down the road and see that we are building something from scratch. There’s going to be some bumps along the road,” said Ring. “There’s going to be some losses, some ties, some results we’re not happy with, but it’s all apart of the process.
“Hopefully we got a lot of these losses and ties out-of-the-way in the spring and we’ll pick it up in the fall.”
But they will have a chance to get a little momentum outside of the NASL after their spring finale against Atlanta. After beating the Dayton Dutch Lions at home 5-2 on May 28th the Eleven advanced to the fourth round of the US Open Cup where they will face the Columbus Crew of the MLS on June 17th.
“Wins do great things for teams and individual players so obviously getting a good result in Atlanta is important to us,” said Sommer. “No. 1 is to continue the building and the growing of a very young team and we turn around and go into the open cup the following week.
“So even though there is a break, we continue to play.”
While hoping to produce first with an outcome they’ll want to remember