On a gorgeous autumn afternoon in the suburb of Englewood Colo., in a high school football stadium with a view of downtown Denver, Indios Denver FC treated their guests rather rudely by dispatching them in a 4-2 manner in front of about 250 mostly Indios supporters.
Indios, a club founded in 2015, is mostly Hispanic in its cultural connections and its members.
The opponents, International Portland Select (IPS) / Marathon Taverna is a club that hails from Portland Ore., and has competed in the last two US Open Cup qualifying tournaments, but just picked up their first win in the last round of this year. They are well-traveled since they are the only team from the Pacific Northwest to enter the competition, and since there’s no local teams to play against they often have to make lengthy trips or teams have to make lengthy trips to play them in the Rose City. IPS had traveled the day before the match to Denver and were feeling some of the effects of jet lag and altitude.
The match was an ideal setup, two very talented teams that were ready to show off their skills and put on a great show for the fans. And a great show was what they delivered.
The opening half started off with 20 minutes of high energy box-to-box action. Right off the bat in the 10th minute Indios’ Julio Rodriguez picked up a yellow for aggressive play. There were a lot of nerves showing early and players were over-anxious and wanted to make big plays. A trend that would be seen for most of the match.
The scoreline was finally broken in the 16th minute with an own goal scored of Indios. Putting the hosts on the board first. Less than a minute later, Indios put another in the net when Christian Ochoa buried a shot.
The game then went into a more structured period. Both teams seemed to get a handle on their defensive posture, the pace of the match slowed, then in the 38th a through ball made its way into Pablo Salinas whot put it in the back of the net for IPS to cut the lead in half.
The 40th minute saw a substitution for Indios as Cristian Gomez came on for the injured Sajjad Alfatlawi. Which brought the game into halftime with Indios leading 2-1. Indios was controlling the game pretty well at this point, they had more shots on goal, had a few corner kicks and felt more comfortable on the front foot.
As the sun began to set in the west, long evening shadows began to take over the pitch. Indios was playing into the sun, however, there was no seeming effect on the players. Coach Jose Edgar Espinoza said after the game that Indios kept trying the counter-attack against IPS’ high line on the offside trap. Indios continued to push that line with ball after ball over the top.
Goal kicks were launched 60-70 meters into the on-rushing attackers to try to break the IPS high line. With a very slick play off a back heel pass in the box by Steven Robellada buried the third golazo and scored the winner.
In the 55the minute, ’ IPS’ Nathan Pogue tightened the score up at 3-2 with a lightening bolt direct free kick that definitely got Indios attention.
As the match started getting late the physicality started heating up. What was a somewhat gentlemanly match began to turn into a yellow card every couple of minutes as the time ticked away. The 3-2 scoreline made IPS push all of their attacking players forward, until suddenly Indios had three players open in front of the net.
Suddenly bodies were on the pitch, mayhem was the order of the day and a penalty was called. Said penalty was dispatched in the 95th minute of play and that was that on a 4-2 victory for the home side.
According to Indios captain Jose Hernandez, Sunday’s win was an inspired performance as one of their assistant coaches, Jaime Hernandez was back in Mexico for funeral services for his mother.
“This win is dedicated to Jaime,” Hernandez said.
As for IPS Marathon, they will head back to the Northwest and try for another year. Traveling to Colorado can be difficult under the best conditions and these were very good conditions for a match