Last-Minute SKC Goal Breaks 1-1 Draw, Setting Up Showdown Between Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC for Playoff Berth
INDIANAPOLIS - Despite battling back from a one goal deficit in the first half, Indy Eleven ultimately fell 1-2 against Sporting Kansas City II in the club's 2020 regular season home finale. Andrew Carleton's first goal of the season closed the gap in favor of Indiana's Team at the start of the second half, but a 95th minute goal from Sporting KC II's Bailey Sparks in dying minutes of the game secured the three points for the visitors.
Even with the result, Indy Eleven's postseason aspirations are still alive as the club remains in second place of Group E (23 pts.) with Saint Louis FC nipping at its heels (22 pts.). Both teams will meet one more time this Saturday to wrap up the final weekend of USL Championship regular season play in a must-watch affair that will decide which team will clinch a second-seed playoff berth in Group E - Indy needing a win or a draw in order to advance into the 2020 postseason.
"We are playing games where a little bounce of the ball here or there could make a big difference for us to actually go out and win these games very comfortably," said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. "At the moment, the ball hasn't bounced our way for quite a few weeks, and we find ourselves in a position where we need a result in the last game of the season. That's okay - we need to make sure that we get our heads up and get focused on how we do that. We are very capable of doing that and we have to make sure we get it done."
Indy Eleven came out the gates firing, creating four opportunities - three of which from the feet of Tyler Pasher - in the opening 12 minutes of the night. The best of those four chances came in the eighth minute, Carl Haworth serving a low cross past two SKC defenders to Pasher near the top of the 18-yard box, who only had goalkeeper Remi Prieur in between him and his 10th goal of the season. His one-touch left-footed attempt proved unsuccessful however, as Prieur managed to push the strike wide off his fingertips.
Having already been eliminated from playoff contention, Sporting Kansas City II entered Lucas Oil Stadium looking to prolong Indy's chances to clinch the postseason early Wednesday evening. After taking a hard foul from Cam Lindley late in the first half, which earned the Carmel, Ind. native his first yellow card of the season, SKC's Fredlin Mompremier found himself in the middle of Indy's box in a one-on-one situation in 41st minute. A long through pass from the midfield found Mompremier along the left flank, who quickly danced right towards goal inside of the box. Mompremier's chipped cross found the head Wilson Harris, who nodded the ball in the upper corner to give the visitors a one-goal advantage before the halftime whistle.
Coming into the second half, Pasher went from looking to score to creating opportunities for his teammates. The Canadian found his way into the visitor's box and found Carleton, who was a halftime substitution, at the top of the box. Taking one touch to settle, the 20-year-old sent a left-footed strike skidding just out of Prieur's reach and into the bottom-right corner for his first goal of the season.
Indy Eleven kept the Sporting's offense at bay for most of the second stanza, only allowing three shots from the visiting side going into stoppage time and the contest looked as if it were going to end with the points being shared. Sparks, a late-game substitute, found himself at the top of Indy's box, managing to find a bit of space for a right-footed attempt that went past 'keeper Evan Newton at full extension and into the back of the net in the 95th minute for the final lead, breaking the visitor's four-game losing streak.
Indy Eleven (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts.) will have one more chance to clinch its third playoff berth in as many season this Saturday, October 3, travels to Saint Louis FC (6W-5L-4D, 22 pts.) in both team's final game of the 2020 USL Regular Season. The 7:30 p.m. ET matchup can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.
USL Championship Regular Season - #INDvSKC
Indy Eleven 1 : 2 Sporting Kansas City II
Wednesday - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium - Indianapolis, Ind.
2020 USL Championship records
Indy Eleven (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts., 2nd in Group E)
Sporting Kansas City II (5W-9L-aD, 16 pts., 4th in Group E)
SKC - Wilson Harris (Fredlin Mompremier) 41'
IND - Andrew Carleton (Tyler Pasher) 49'
SKC - Bailey Sparks (Petar Cuic) 90+5'
IND - Cam Lindley (Yellow Card) 38'
IND - Matt Watson (Yellow Card) 73'
SKC - Bailey Sparks (Yellow Card) 86'
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L-->R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Drew Connor (Matt Watson, 69'), Tyler Gibson (Jeremy Rafanello, 86'), Carl Haworth; Tyler Pasher, Cam Lindley (Andrew Carleton 46'), Ilija Ilic (Nick Moon, 69')
IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Conner Antley, Felicien Dumas
Sporting Kansas City II (4-4-2, L-->R): Remi Prieur; Dillon Serna, Daniel Barbir, Kaveh Rad, Kayden Pierre, Fredlin Mompremier (Dominik Resetar, 83'), Jahon Rad, Jacob Davis, Christian Duke (captain) (Bailey Sparks, 86'), Tyler Freeman (Isaiah LeFlore, 83'); Wilson Harris (Petar Cuic, 86')
SKC Substitutes: Mitch Hildebrandt (GK), Mason Leeth, Camden Riley
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