It was a hard fought draw this weekend between Indy and Ottawa.
This USL season has seen Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury follow similar paths. Hot and cold stretches through the season have led both teams to the middle of the Eastern Conference, and both are fighting to stay above the playoff line. As they have experienced so many times this season, Indy can keep pace with the best teams in USL but lacked the execution to put them away. Ultimately, strong defenses, stronger goalkeeping, and offensive struggles left both teams leaving without a victory in this match.
Goalkeeping Saves the Day
Owain Fon Williams didn’t need to convince Eleven fans that he has been the Player of the Year so far. Coming into this match, he has made a habit out of saving penalties, stopping opposing set pieces, and having some of the fastest reflexes in the USL. All three of those habits were on display against Ottawa and Fon Williams made sure the Eleven didn’t leave Canada empty-handed.
The 35th minute saw Owain make another wonder-save as the Welshman repelled a fine attacking move. An under-defended cross allowed Tony Taylor to head the ball hard and on-target. Fon Williams not only got a hand on the ball, but managed to push it above the goal. Considering it all happened in the course of a few seconds, the save was another impressive effort for his ever-expanding highlight reel.
The most important moment for Fon Williams, however, came in the 59th minute. Carlyle Mitchell made a careless challenge on Steevan Dos Santos, giving Ottawa a penalty. Dos Santos came up to the spot anticipating an easy goal and left that spot realizing just how difficult penalties against the Eleven have become. Owain guessed the right direction, chose the right height, and left Dos Santos with such a little amount of space for the shot that it was shanked off of the post.
Those events kept the match level and made sure the Eleven got what they needed out of the match. If the offense can match Fon William’s effort from the back, Indy will be poised to make some noise in the playoffs this fall.
Missed Opportunities, Missed Points
While the goalkeeping has been consistently great, the offensive performances have been the consistently less than clinical. Indy created chances, looked like they were going to put them away, and then didn’t. It’s been a hallmark of the team and has led to the under-performance of the squad.
Seth Moses missed a clear opportunity to open the scoring in the first half, with Soony Saad striking the woodwork twice in the second. Indy struggled to get clear chances past those moments, as the Fury midfield gave little room for the Eleven to penetrate. The Eleven couldn’t connect on final passes, and couldn’t win offensive headers in the box. Despite dominating possession, the lack of creativity on the field kept Ottawa confident operating off of the counter attack and left Indy without two much-needed points.
Creating the chances they did, with the squad rotation that took place, is a positive sign. The Eleven controlled the game and prevented a rejuvenated Fury side from continuing their assault up the table. Indy have some very winnable fixtures coming up, making this result easier to handle. But in the War of Attrition that the Eastern Conference has become, all points are crucial. The addition of reinforcements should help in the homestretch, as Indy looks to march toward securing a playoff spot.