As bad weather rolled through much of the midwest, and many were sheltering at home, soccer fans in central Indiana made the trip to Michael A. Carroll Stadium for Round 2 of the 2023 US Open Cup. With kickoff being pushed back to 8 p.m., fans knew they were in for a late night, and a late night it was, with the Indy Eleven claiming victory after 120 minutes of play, 3-1.
“These games are never easy,” said first-year Indy Eleven manager Mark Lowry. “You’ve just got to get through them and move on to the next round.”
While Indy held possession the majority of the game, it was Michigan’s Nebojsa Popovic that started the scoring with a penalty kick goal that came in the second minute of first-half stoppage time.
The Eleven didn’t get on the board until the 59th minute of play, when Harrison Robledo scored off the assist of Solomon Asante. Scoring would stay silent the rest of the 90 minutes, and when eight minutes of added time couldn’t find a winner, the match went into two 15-minute added periods.
Indy was quick to score in the first two minutes of extra time, with Sebastian Guenzatti scoring off a second assist from Asante. For Guenzatti, it was his third career US Open Cup goal. His first two came as a member of the New York Cosmos (NASL). Guenzatti scored one each in 2015 and 2016.
The final goal came in the 106th minute as Juan Tejada accepted a pass from Jonas Fjeldberg to get to the final score.
With the win, Indy scores their first US Open Cup Second Round win since 2019, while Michigan loses in the Second Round for the second year in a row. The Eleven will find out their Third Round opponent on Thursday, April 6 during the draw at 6:30 p.m. ET on Bleacher Report.
As soon as play began, it began to look like the game would be all Indy Eleven, as they held possession for the majority of the first 40 minutes of play, including three shots with a little help from two Stars yellow cards issued to Andres Chalbaud in the 35th minute and Kotaro Umeda in the 48th. The tide turned towards the end of the half, as possession increased for Michigan, seeing their first corner of the game in the 39th minute. The Stars capped the end of the first half with a 47th minute goal by Nebojsa Popovic on a penalty kick that was set up after Indy’s Mechack Jérôme foul in the penalty area.
The beginning of the second half had Indy make three substitutions, with Dambrot, Asante, and Quinn relieving Rebellón, Torres, and Blake respectively.
Much like the first half, possession was controlled by the Eleven, with Indy taking three shots within the first ten minutes. The Stars subbed out their first half goal scorer Popovic in the 52nd minute, opting for Hunter Olsen.
Shortly after the change in the 59th, Indy’s Harrison Robledo scored the equalizer off a Solomon Asante assist. Lowry would make his fourth substitution of the evening in the 64th minute, bringing in Adrián Diz Pe for Jérôme. Michigan would then make their second change of the night, making a change to their second line and exchanging Umeda for the fresh Nicolas Nikolla in the 70th minute.
“We knew it was gonna come. We just had to keep the possession”— Indy Eleven (@IndyEleven) April 6, 2023
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Nine minutes later, Nikolla was the subject of the match once again, receiving a yellow card for a hard foul on Diz Pe. The final substitution of the game came in the 85th minute, with Indy switching Jonas Fjeldberg for Cam Lindley. Roughly eight minutes were added to the end of the 90 to try and break the stalemate, and action heated up, with three Indy shots and a Michigan shot all coming in the added time, but all shots were unsuccessful, and the game headed to extra time.
The scoring started early in added time, with Diz Pe finding the back of the net on Asante’s second assist of the night in the 92nd minute to give the Eleven the 2-1 lead. Possession continued to stay with Indy throughout the extra time, with small attacks from the Stars that fizzled out all too easily. Just as the first added extra time period was coming to a close, Indy decided to extend their lead, as Juan Tejada scored in the 106th minute off an assist from Jonas Fjeldberg. Possession the second extra time period seemed a bit more balanced, with the Michigan Stars seeming to be on the attack a bit more than the previous period. But much like the majority of the game, these attacks fizzled out and led to turnovers.