INDIANAPOLIS – Oddly enough, the most intimidating home environment in the North American Soccer League at the moment may be the one which they were practicing on a semi-warm Friday afternoon.
With seating for over 10,000 fans and a sellout for every league game so far, the Indy Eleven’s Carroll Stadium may be one of the most difficult venues for any opposing soccer team to play in.
Yet despite overwhelming crowd support, the team is still searching for its first victory in front of the home fans since beginning their inaugural season back in April. Another shot comes on Saturday when the Eleven face Atlanta in front of what’s expected to be another sellout crowd at Carroll Stadium as the team hopes to snap a four-game losing streak at home.
“We want to reward the fans that come out,” said midfielder A.J. Corrado. “I think we’ve had some good performances at home and we’ve just been really unlucky.”
That's an understatement in the team's last two contests at "The Mike", where the team lost a chance for points in heartbreaking fashion. Against San Antonio on May 31st, the Eleven allowed a goal in stoppage time that let the Scorpions escape with a 2-1 win. Two weeks ago the team took a 1-0 first half lead against Tampa Bay only to get tied before the end of the half and lose on a goal in the 89th minute.
Perhaps the team can get a boost from what's happened away from home so far in their NASL Fall Season, where the late bad luck at home has turned to good. Against Carolina, the Eleven got a goal from Don Smart in the final minutes to pull out their first ever league victory.
Last week it was a goal in stoppage time by Kleberson that gave the Eleven a 1-0 win at Edmonton. Head coach Juergen Sommer has a theory as to why the team has played well away from home.
"I think it's a camaraderie and kinda being on the road together with a purpose and a focus of Edmonton," said Sommer of the team's mindset heading to their last road game. "It was great to see the result."
Yet Sommer insists the team isn't trying to put too much pressure on snapping the league winless streak at home. A few tough results in front of the home fans doesn't change the team's overall goal for steady improvement in their first season.
"We're not trying to put any of those pressures on our guys. Just get out and play and perform the way we can," said Sommer. "We know what they can do based on what we've seen, especially in the fall here in Edmonton and North Carolina.
"So it will come."
Then it will become even tougher for opponents to enter "The Mike."