Photo courtesy Trevor Ruszkowski / Indy Eleven
INDIANAPOLIS – Soony Saad scored twice as Indy Eleven produced a 2-1 victory against Nashville SC for a crowd of 10,188 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Indy took the lead in the 15th minute as Saad latched onto a ball over the top by Ayoze for a breakaway chance that he finished low into the left side of the net, and Saad struck again 11 minutes before halftime with a bending long-range strike from 35 yards that found the left corner. Nashville almost hit back before halftime as Michael Reed curled a shot off the crossbar, but just as time ticked into first-half stoppage time Ropapa Mensah finished off a well-executed move down the right with a near-post finish. Both teams pushed into attack in the second half, and Indy’s Tyler Pasher forced a good save from NSC goalkeeper Matt Pickens with 10 minutes to go on a quickly sprung counterattack. Nashville almost threatened from a late free kick, only for Indy’s Zach Steinberger to make a decisive clearance before an attacker could put home the loose ball, and the hosts then held firm to claim their third win out of four to start the regular season.
15’ – IND – Soony Saad (Ayoze)
34’ – IND – Soony Saad (Jack McInerney)
45+1’ – NSH – Ropapa Mensah (Lebo Moloto)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Given his prior experience both at the club and international level, plenty was going to be expected of Soony Saad in leading Indy Eleven this season. In his first two regular-season goals for the club the Lebanese international produced two standout moments as part of a good all-around display on Saturday to lead the Eleven to their first home win of the club’s new era. Saad linked up play well in midfield as he dropped off frontrunner Jack McInerney, and his second finish of the game from 35 yards out was highlight-reel stuff, producing a wicked bend to catch out NSC goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
2. Indy has yet to concede in the second half of a game this season, and in limiting Nashville’s clear looks at goal ensured the halftime lead built by Saad and co. up top didn’t go to waste. Nashville was limited to only one shot on goal in the second half on Saturday, an effort by Alan Winn that produced a nice save by Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams, but otherwise it was the hosts that looked more threatening as they got the chance to use Tyler Pasher’s speed on the counterattack to create chances that could had added a third goal.
3. Nashville pulled its way back into the game with a great piece of buildup play that led to Ropapa Mensah’s second goal in as many games but was unable to find a decisive finish in the second half despite having more of the balance of play than its hosts. The end of the club’s three-game undefeated streak will be disappointing, as will the end of the club’s shutout streak, but the fact the side was able to go toe-to-toe with a strong-looking outfit on their home turf still leaved a measure of optimism for what will come next.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Soony Saad, Indy Eleven – Saad’s two goals were highlighted by a 35-yard drive off a short free kick that earned the side its first home win at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indy Eleven at Charlotte Independence – April 28, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsplex at Matthews
Nashville SC at Penn FC – April 24, 6:30 p.m. ET, FNB Field