The Michigan Bucks skated by the NASL’s Indy Eleven to the tune of 1-0, behind some stellar defense and a key strike from University of Michigan star Francis Atuahene.
“I’m really happy with the result…really great effort,” Beamed head coach Demir Muftari. “We played really well. Hats off the Indy Eleven, they have a really solid team over there.”
The game started slowly with not a lot action in the first 10 minutes, but it was quickly broken open in the 11th when Atuahene seemed to have a clear path to the net after a gorgeous long through ball. However, he ran into a stumbling Anthony Manning, and the ball bounced to the keeper Keith Cardona.
Two minutes later, Atuahene elicited a lot of cheers as he split two defenders with a stunning dribble move, before flicking the ball past fan favorite Lovel Palmer, before charging down the left field to force a Bucks corner.
Former Michigan Bucks David Goldsmith, who was presented his PDL championship medal before the game for his time with the Bucks last year, almost put his new team ahead in the 16th, with a right footed shot from the right wing, but it rattled off the post. The rebound was saved by Bucks keeper Drew Shepherd.
In the 22nd minute, Andre Landell flicked a cross into the box, and if it weren’t for Indy’s Cardona getting a hand in there, Grant Stoneman would have quickly headed it into the net.
The Indy Eleven almost took the lead behind a gorgeous curling ball from wing midfielder Justin Plumhoff, but again it banged off of the crossbar and back into play. The ensuing play led to rightback Jordan Snell feeding a gorgeous through ball to Atuahene who calmly slotted a ball past Cardona to give the Bucks a 1-0 lead.
“The goal by Francis helped a lot.” Muftari said with a smile. “It allowed us to keep with the flow of the game, and kind of press a little more.”
The first yellow card of the match went to recent sub Ivo Cerda as he proceeded to waste time on a throw-in, in the 49th minute. As the ref turned away, he quickly threw the ball in, to which the ref responded with his yellow angrily.
Indy Eleven pressed the rest of match with long shots, including NASL current leading scorer Justin Braun, who had a nice turn in the box, but his shot was turned away.
In the 71st minute, a weird play happened as recent sub Elliot Collier flicked a ball forward to Atuahene. The side judge ruled Atuahene was offside, but the head judge waived the play on as he determined a defender had flicked the ball back instead…Atuahene ran one on one with the goalie and put the ball over, nullifying the missed call.
The Bucks ran the rest of the time out of the clock and celebrated before a crowd of at least 400. They will improve their USOC record to 15-11, and will host their record 21st home game in the tournament. They will play St Louis FC, who defeated FC Wichita 4-3 in extra time. Last year, St Louis advanced to the 3rd round before succumbing to the Loons of Minnesota United.