Photo courtesy Matt Wittmeyer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Justin Braun scored a pair of goals as Indy Eleven took a 3-1 victory against Toronto FC II on Saturday night in the second of this summer’s games at Rochester’s Marina Auto Stadium. The teams exchanged chances around a quarter-of-an-hour in as first the Eleven’s Soony Saad forced a good save from Toronto goalkeeper Luca Catalano with a shot from the corner of the six-yard box and then TFC II had a pair of shots by Ayo Akinola and Mariano Miño cleared off the line by Indy defenders Carlyle Mitchell and Kevin Venegas. Indy took the lead through Venegas in the 23rd minute, however, as a counterattack saw him cut into the penalty area from the right and shoot home at the near post. Toronto hit back five minutes later, however, as Akinola ripped home a shot into the top-left corner of the net from outside the penalty area. Both sides went close to taking the lead in the final 15 minutes before the break, but in the first minutes of stoppage time Indy regained its advantage as Braun scored from close range as Venegas added an assist to his earlier goal. Five minutes after the break Braun added his second of the night as he headed home a cross by Matt Watson off the underside of the crossbar and in, and the rangy forward almost added a third 10 minutes later, only for his effort to go over the crossbar. Toronto tried to hit back with 17 minutes to go as Liam Fraser set up a chance for Malik Johnson from the edge of the penalty area that was comfortably saved by Indy goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams, while Julian Dunn also went close in second-half stoppage time, but the Eleven saw out the victory to run its undefeated streak to three games.
23’ – IND – Kevin Venegas
28’ – TOR – Ayo Akinola (Aidan Daniels)
45+1’ – IND – Justin Braun (Kevin Venegas)
50’ – IND – Justin Braun (Matt Watson)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Indy put together the performance it needed to claim another three points toward its playoff efforts as Justin Braun found the scoresheet for the first time this season, nabbing a brace to allow the Eleven to pull clear with goals either side of the halftime break. While it didn’t come against the strongest opponent, Indy has now scored multiple goals in each of its past three outings, a sign that things might be starting to come together for Head Coach Martin Rennie’s side.
2. Toronto continued its dismal run of form as it suffered an eighth consecutive defeat despite Ayo Akinola’s third goal of the season, and once again it felt as though the breaks the side needed just wouldn’t go TFC II’s way. A scrambled pair of clearances off the line on efforts by Akinola and Mariano Miño that denied the side the opening goal of the game could have given Toronto a needed boost of confidence, but instead after those chances were denied and Indy would soon take the lead and press on for victory.
3. Indy is now undefeated in its last three games and has won its last two, which is an ideal set-up for what will be a major test in its next outing on June 26 when it visits fellow playoff contender Nashville SC. After taking a 2-1 victory behind a brace from Soony Saad when the teams met at Lucas Oil Stadium earlier this season, completing a season sweep would be a major boost to Indy’s drive toward the postseason.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kevin Venegas, Indy Eleven – Venegas had a goal, and assist and a key clearance off the line to deny Toronto the opening goal of the game to help Indy take a solid victory.
Toronto FC II vs. FC Cincinnati – June 27, 7:30 p.m. ET, Lamport Stadium
Indy Eleven at Nashville SC – June 26, 8:30 p.m. ET, First Tennessee Park