Professional Development Timeline

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This is me, Rebecca Townsend, in my library at home in Boone County, Missouri, a few miles south of Columbia, approximately 2010. (Photo credit to Clyde Townsend)

This timeline is a work in progress: I’m sorting through old files and papers, trying to create a visual map documenting my professional journey thus far. This will be like an evolving scrapbook.

What is happening currently

(writing/podcast/multimedia, massage therapy, soccer — and sometimes boxing)

Sycamore landtrust HT feature 2015 webcopyThough I still write and have a heart for journalism, after losing my full-time position as news editor at Indy’s local alt weekly in 2014, I became a professional massage therapist, working to help build Lift Therapeutic Massage, a well-respected, independent studio near the Eli Lilly headquarters in Downtown Indianapolis.

I do some freelance journalism (such as the Hoosier Times story shown here and the two examples offered below: the first from Sophisticated Living Indianapolis, the next from Farm Indiana), but most of my creative efforts are now focused on personal endeavors to be publicized later on.

 

Also, a boxing story written in 2013 garnered the interest of John Bansch, a legendary Indianapolis Star sports reporter who also volunteered as publicity chair for the Indiana Golden Gloves. He knew he was going to die (which he did last spring, the day before the Gloves started) and he recruited me to take on his duties — essentially hitting up local media to support amateur boxing. So now I sit ringside during the tournament and publish the commemorative program for the championship, telling the stories of incredible athletes such as Frank Martin, the first Indiana fighter to win a National Golden Gloves title in 23 years. I’ve hyperlinked this photo of Martin to a digitized copy of the story I wrote for the 2017 Golden Gloves program:

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From left: Ike Boyd, Rebecca Townsend and Frank Martin following Martin’s victory in the Indiana Golden Gloves in April 2017.

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2015

In my one-year contract as sideline reporter for Indy Eleven broadcasts to local television and national streaming audiences, I covered one of my life’s greatest passions (soccer) from an intimate vantage point. Some of my favorite memories include witnessing the posturing between the opposing coaches and the refs that one can only truly appreciate from close range.

More clips to come, but for starters, here is my interview with the legendary Thomas Rongen, then coach of the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, in town for a May 30 match against Indy Eleven.

Here’s a brief clip from later in the season with Indy Eleven coach Tim Regan.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test taken in 2015

 

Also in 2015, while working toward my degree at the Indiana College of Sports and Medical Massage, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. My answers placed me in the “supervisor” category: ESTJ. Here’s a brief summary of the characteristics associated with ESTJ personality types.

 

 

 

 

2014

A year of great highs and lows. 2014 took me to Brazil for the World Cup.

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2014 also saw me lose my job at NUVO a month after returning home from the Cup. No, I did not lose my job because of my sabbatical at the Cup. At least not that anyone would admit to my face. I was told by the managing editor (who himself would quit a short time later), “NUVO is moving a new direction, we’re going to have to let you go. We feel you’d be happier at a place with more resources.” “Who wouldn’t be?” I thought. And the ironic thing is, aside from being heartbroken and feeling betrayed, I was happier as soon as I drove out of the parking lot and never had to check my NUVO email again. I had been a one-woman newsroom, unable to stick to just one beat. Keeping up with the avalanche of information dumped on me 24 hours a day was exhausting. [Also, I’d been through the personal wringer during this time: the loss of my mom (57) and grandma (93) in 2010, my dad (60) in 2011, a catastrophic flood at the cabin I grew up in Monroe County in 2012 and a four-year, total-gut-job home renovation project in Indianapolis that lasted from 2012-2016. One of those years we were commuting back and forth between Bloomington and Indy. The last year of that project (while in massage college), I lived in an RV in the back yard of our Indy house with my husband, then 12-year-old daughter, two dogs and a cat. Chaos.]

The afternoon after I lost my NUVO job, at my soccer coaching job on the International School of Indiana’s beautiful grass fields just across the White River from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, I thought, “Yeah, I’m happier already. Who is the loser here? Me, out on this glorious field inspiring the Lady Gryphons to greatness? Or the people who will likely die of heart attacks, cracked out on their laptops under fluorescent lights in partitioned cubicles?” On more than one occasion in the newsroom, I’d been exhausted and overwhelmed, certain that I’d die at my desk and no one would care — that all the effort it took to be a committed journalist would be a waste.

So it came to be, following a blissful vision of health and balance that began to unfold to me one night under the stars near the lighthouse on the coast of Salvador, Brazil (just a few hours after the U.S. Men’s National Team conceded defeat to Belgium in the Round of 16), I entered the Indiana College of Sports and Medical Massage in Carmel (now Indiana Massage College). Downsized out of my alt weekly job after earning an SPJ award for my coverage of the shrinking Star newsroom (see the 2011 section), I figured I may need another trade to support myself as a journalist. Given the political headwinds blowing ever since, perhaps the temporary pause in active-duty, front-line journalism served as a blessing — an opportunity to breathe deeply and release stress during a period of intense national anxiety, compose my thoughts on “fake news,” “citizen journalism,” and the roles different forms of journalism can play in democratic society.

It invigorates me to look back and know I produced a solid body of work during my tenure. (And I know I have plenty more in the tank.)

Consider the variety of topics my NUVO news desk covered…

Keeping track of the State of Indiana’s activities on environmental issues occupied a good deal of my time. Here are some examples:

My cover story:

NUVO state sues over clean power plan

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2013

Editing retired U.S. Congressman Andy Jacobs Jr.’s weekly Thought Bite columns led to a sweet but brief friendship.  Jacobs, a 30-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives, prolific writer and a veteran of the Korean War, passed away in 2013, less than two years after I met him. I was honored to publish the following tribute (click the hyperlinked picture to read the full piece):

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Here you can see two examples of my cover stories, as well as the results of a re-design the publisher carried out while I was working at NUVO. I received a promise that the news section would never drop below two pages. Months later, I was fighting off an attempt to cut it further.

The following story is among my favorites from the NUVO days. Randy was able to stay in school and graduate — and school officials were on the hot seat. This story also provided and example of how I would publish web packages using my photos, video and info graphics to complement my written stories.

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Also during this time, a professional soccer team developed in Indy from the ground up — and I had a front row seat. I produced many web exclusives as the team developed over the seasons, but I also may hold a state (possible national) record for most print real estate dedicated to soccer coverage. The feature pictured below was released just ahead of the team’s inaugural game. Anyone recall another Indiana soccer story that garnered a cover plus five whole pages inside?

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The same week we ran my Indy Eleven story, I covered efforts to bolster inner-city quality of life (among other items) — and we ran an opinion piece by Dr. Louis Profeta. “Your Kid and My Kid Are Not Playing in the Pros” probably still holds the record for one of the most popular pieces we ever posted online. Dr. Profeta introduced himself to me at the gym one day after I finished boxing. He, too, boxed, if I remember correctly. That conversation led to him running his piece with me. Lucky NUVO!

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Also this year, my coverage of the Golden Gloves earned an SPJ sports reporting award.

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2013 Best Sports Reporting Golden Gloves

2012

This year was an endurance test: a presidential AND a gubernatorial race, not to mention a slew of local offices up for grabs. (We’d just had a mayoral election in 2011!) But most importantly, a story I edited and contributed to with my data analysis and reporting skills, “Separation Anxiety: The Twisted Web of Church and State” earned SPJ Indiana Pro Chapter’s first place for investigative reporting in 2012.

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Here’s what my election guides looked like. (The latter won SPJ’s second best political coverage for a non-daily in 2012.)

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2011

As soon as I returned to Indiana, I began winning awards for NUVO, including for my 2011 Election Guides. Within a year, SPJ’s Indiana Pro chapter asked me to be on their board and soon promoted me to vice president, a position I held until resigning in early 2017. (Please note the local reporting awards are judged by out-of-state chapters and our chapter reciprocates by serving other regions’ judging needs.)

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Best-nondeadline reporting 3rd place

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On June 8, 2011, NUVO ran a letter from the publisher announcing my arrival as news editor:

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Though I love traveling the world, it felt great to be welcomed home to Indiana in 2011.

2009

As I was wrapping up my thesis, my advisor and I distilled its core findings into an article for the peer-reviewed journal Literary Journalism Studies.

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My authentic coffee-or-wine-stained cover of the issue of “Literary Journalism Studies” containing an article on my theory of writing culture.

In the summer of 2009, for a number of reasons but driven chiefly by the financial burden of having an unsold house Missouri while we were paying to live in Downtown Chicago, I resigned from Dow Jones and the family returned to Missouri where I began volunteering at KBIA while I plotted my next career move. During that time, I helped bring the KBIA team a 2011 Edward R. Murrow investigative reporting award for a nuclear industry whistleblower’s chronicle, “Safety Culture at the Callaway Plant.”

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By the end of the year, the Missouri Broadcasters Association offered me an opportunity that presented one of the greatest challenges and triumphs of my career: the chance to build a multimedia newsroom from the ground up inside the magnificent Missouri State Capitol.

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Newspapers, radio and television stations statewide would pick up my stories, video clips, photos and audio packages from Missouri News Horizon. Here are two examples pulled from the online archives of the Southeast Missourian and KOLR Springfield’s OzarksFirst.com.

Here is an example of a citizen environmental blog picking up a piece I wrote for statewide distribution:

Big Muddy News Blog picks up Missouri News Horizon

2008

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Working with these dudes (and Ian Berry, not pictured) was one of the highlights of my professional career thus far. From left: Tom Polansek, Theopolis Waters and Andrew Johnson with me at the Chicago Board of Trade, New Year’s Eve 2008.

Seven months after moving to Jersey City, I was given what the recruiting editor said was the fastest promotion in Dow Jones history when they sent me to Chicago to be a commodities reporter, which put me at the Chicago Board of Trade on the day during the financial crisis when the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out.

During the chaos, I achieved a career milestone: my bylines in the Wall Street Journal. Not the front page, and no major investigations, but still, I had arrived …

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This picture of some of the pieces I wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal shows the variety of headlines and issues I was handling during the Dow Jones days.

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2007

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The stack of papers is the total data requests I filled for newsrooms around the country the morning after the tragic I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in which 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured. I was the sole employee on duty that morning at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

My investigative environmental work is featured in Mizzou’s alumni magazine.

Mizzou Mag feature

Despite the tragic fashion decision I made by wearing those shoes, I was happy to be featured in MIZZOU Magazine. I especially like this quote the reporter used: “Environmental reporting isn’t just about the scare of the day,” Townsend says. “The journalist’s role should be to consistently assess the health of the environment and let people know what you find.”

The public media outlet KBIA on campus allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of broadcasting the news on the radio. In recognition of my efforts, the news director Sarah Ashworth gave me a sweet certificate:

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In addition to completing an independent mapping project with Professor David Herzog, I also earned a Mapping Boot Camp certificate with Professor Brant Houston.

NICAR Mapping Bootcamp

By the fall of 2007, I had a full-time reporting gig at Dow Jones Newswires, relocating to Jersey City. My daily reporting focus shifted from the environment to the economy, which was on the verge of an epic meltdown.

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This is Missouri Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Class XII on its trip to DC in 2008. That’s me two to the left of Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. We watched his staff at the National Agricultural Statistics Service release one of its top secret crop reports. (Yes, just like from “Trading Places”!) Together our ALOT class traveled to every corner of Missouri, plus DC, and our experience culminated on a two-week tour of France and the Czech Republic. This underscores why I love agriculture. It is a global beat that involves nearly everything.

2006

I earned an A in investigative journalism from Professor Brant Houston, former president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, for a story I did using computer-assisted reporting techniques (joining tables in two separate spreadsheets of public information) to illustrate the challenges the county sewer inspection team was having in keeping up with the demands of the job, allowing local water treatment providers to operate on expired permits. The story made the Missourian’s front page on November 28, 2006.

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An “enterprise join” learned from the investigative journalists at the University of Missouri enabled me to write a front-page investigative story on the county’s sewage treatment inspection backlog.

Less than one month after moving to Columbia, on Jan. 23, 2006, I made the Missourian front page for the first time — with another story about water quality.

Drugs in Hinkson Creek, Missourian, Jan 2006

The state environmental officials did not want to turn over the study that ended up leading to this headline, but my Missourian editor, John Schneller, encouraged me to stay on them. Persistence paid off!

2005

In my seventh year of covering the livestock industry, I’d spent a lot of time writing about animal welfare issues and interviewing some of the world’s leading researchers on the topic.

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In 2005, SPJ’s national membership magazine put out a call, looking for “extreme journalists” to interview. I wrote and made a case for agriculture as an “extreme” beat. Quill agreed and sent a writer to interview me. They even gave me a shoutout on the cover.

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I’m proud to report that while working for AgriNews, a publication taken almost exclusively by rural, white farmers, I was able to produce award-winning coverage about issues faced by migrant workers.

SPJ Minority Issues award

(Even though I’d been married for almost 5 years at this point, I still used my maiden name at AgriNews because I’d started with the company as Wilson and I wanted continuity in my byline. The award below came in 2006, while I was already at Mizzou, for a story written in 2005, so I switched to Townsend.)

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SEJ membership

The Society of Environmental Journalists includes some of the world’s finest journalists — enabling them to support each other in bolstering the media industry’s — and the public’s — understanding of some of the most complicated issues this planet faces. I’ve attended SEJ conferences in Texas, Montana, Florida, Wisconsin and Vermont.

During what would be my last year with Indiana AgriNews, I joined teachers from all over the world for a week in Bloomington as we explored worldwide food and resource issues. This undertaking foreshadowed a continued interest in food systems, the environment and world economy, which I continued to build on the commodities desk at Dow Jones and as a member of Class 12 of Missouri’s Agricultural Leadership of Tomorrow (ALOT) educational/leadership development program.

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2004

My job at Indiana AgriNews offered the opportunity to write many articles about the intersections of the biomedical and agricultural industries. Here’s an example (that’s my picture, too):

AgriNews Medical Miracles

Letter from Dick Holden 2003

Dick Holden was my editor from 1992-1996 at the work study job I held at Earlham’s Office of College Relations all four years of my undergraduate career. He wrote this letter to me in 2003. As you can see, he was a solid writer. As you may imagine, I learned a lot from him.

1998

In late 1997, I received an invitation and a challenge to start a restaurant at the corner of 54th and College (in the same location Yat’s occupies now). I accepted the invitation, wrote a business plan, secured a $20,000 private investment and a $100,000 SBA loan and managed to have Modern Times Urban Truck Stop and Bookstore open in less than 6 months. Though I closed a year and half later, I count several victories for this project: 1) Most restaurants close in less than a year. We did better. And a lot of people loved us. We grossed more than $250,000 during our time of operation. 2) We did not have to claim bankruptcy. 3) We are still remembered for our legendary style.

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Me in 1998 making a Chicago dog in the Modern Times kitchen. And an snippet of the menu:

Modern Times Breakfast menu

1997

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This letter from my supervising attorney at Roberts & Bishop, Kevin S. (RIP), is among my most treasured endorsements.  Berkley rejected my application, but a decade later the University of Missouri offered me a free ride, so everything worked out as it should. During my time at Roberts & Bishop, I interviewed new clients and filed initial paperwork in personal injury and discrimination cases. Also, I solicited new corporate clients and helped a senior partner organize, edit and publish a book on practice management.

Ken Roberts says Rebecca Ken Roberts acknowledgement

1996

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Me with my hustlin’ Quakers defensive line getting our game faces on ahead of a 1995 match at Kenyon. We earned a program win record during this year, my senior season.

Earlham Transcript

Earlham Transcript 1

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Rebecca on Hoosier Outdoor aprox 1995

In the summer of 1995, I enjoyed taking classes at IU and my co-ed soccer team (read: three girls and 14 guys), Hoosier Outdoor, beat Pegasus, a team led by IU soccer alums, in Bloomington’s recreational soccer tournament, a highlight in my three-decade soccer career!

1992

My graduation project from Bloomington’s Harmony School required me to relocate to New York City, where I worked an editorial internship for Sassy Magazine, a national publication for teen girls.

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This is the evaluation of my supervisor, Christina Kelly, a senior writer and editor. I particularly like this part: “I really am very impressed with Rebecca. She shows a lot of promise, and I think she’ll be a success at whatever she decides to do.”

I enjoyed talking to Marlon Wayans. This interview happened before I had real training in professional boundaries, so before I prepared to leave the office where I was speaking to Marlon and one of his friends — and driven by a fluster of hormones and ambition, I used the strongest pickup line I knew: “Has anyone ever told you that you are a total babe?” It must have been hard for a comedian not to laugh in my face as his assistant kindly moved me toward to he door. Still, It looks like that theme inspired me as I wrote …

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Observing street life in the city and talking to some of the characters I met presented the opportunity for me to slip “The Best Thing About NYC Subways” into the magazine:

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Here’s a feature Steve Hinnefeld wrote for the Herald Times wrote upon my return:

Upon returning from NYC, I did some freelancing before leaving Bloomington for Earlham College in the fall.

Here’s a feature I wrote on storied drummer Kenny Aronoff:

Kenny Aronoff interview

Did you know that Kenny Aronoff started the famous Roach Motel across Indiana Avenue from IU’s Dunn Meadow?

1991

At 17 years old, I moved out of my mother’s house and began living in Downtown Bloomington, supporting myself by working at the Red Chair Bakery on Kirkwood. When I resigned that job before moving to New York City, the bakery’s owner wrote a recommendation for me.

Mike Baker recommendation

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Me on break in the summer of 1991, enjoying a Dagwood’s sub on the Kirkwood Avenue curb in front of the Red Chair Bakery (now absorbed into the Village Deli).

Pitch Bitch, episode 6: 2017 finale

David Goldsmith on the attack

A North Carolina FC defender and David Goldsmith leaving it all out on the field. Note in the background Indy defender Marco Franco (who is in a three-way tie for team goal-assist leader with Ben Speas and Justin Braun). Franco pulled some fancy footwork, faking Carolina defense deep in enemy territory, to set up Goldsmith’s shot opportunity.

Visiting soccer squad North Carolina FC sliced through home team Indy Eleven’s defense, starting from midfield, three minutes and 47 seconds into the last game of the season at Michael Carroll Stadium.

The 40-degree afternoon took on an extra chill as a collective shudder shook the spines of the faithful. How ugly was this match going to get?

Thankfully for the fans: not too ugly or gut wrenching due to the team’s continued, cool-headed pressure. A connecting pass from Gerardo Torrado at the top of Indy’s 18 to David Goldsmith in the midfield, who turned and dished it out immediately to Ben Speas in the left-side channel, set up Speas’ perfect pass, feeding a hungry Zayed, on point for a one-touch equalizer at the far-side of the net. The definition of beautiful penetration.

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Striker Eamon Zayed controls Speas’ feed for an inside-of-the-right foot tap into the near-side net, breathing the air possibility back into the game for the home team. The goal marked 26 goals in two seasons for Eamon Zayed, the team’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Indy’s starting 11 worked well together to control several viable North Carolina threats and launch many promising attacks of their own. Don Smart was unlucky to have a first-half shot from inside soar high over the goal. (Delivered with perhaps too much power when a heavy dose of finesse was needed to tame the unruly ball, Smart’s opportunity was enabled by a ricochet off the Carolina keeper, who deflected a Zayed shot well set up by midfielder Tanner Thompson — a standout player from Indiana University.) Indeed, when we look at the whole field, the players deserve credit for playing tough defense as a unit — as well as aggressive on the attack. Everyone was involved in all aspects of the game. And while there certainly were errors, they were overshadowed by positive examples of connective chemistry and organized support.

Zayed captured amid one of several tasty opportunities on goal.

Zayed captured amid one of several tasty opportunities on goal.

Back-line defenders, for example, coordinated the play that pushed Indy Eleven to a 2-1 advantage 20 minutes into the second half.

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Defender Nemanja Vukovic lines up one of his legendary, killer freekicks. This one delivered to the far-side of the box where fellow defender — and Indiana native — Cory Miller met it for a one-touch goal.

The Vukovic/Miller freekick/cross/weakside run/one-touch to far-side netting combination that pushed Indy to a 2-1 lead elated the stands — and illustrated one of the most beautiful aspects of being able to watch the development of professional soccer: an international player from Montenegro (Vuko) connecting with a young man who grew up less than 30  miles from the stadium (Miller) to develop goal-scoring chemistry. Long-paying will be dividends of exposing a local audience to the concepts of international cooperation and the possibilities found by individuals who commit themselves to disciplined training.

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Exposing local children to concepts of international cooperation, teamwork and individual commitment to training (where they see local players who work hard achieve success on the field) are some of the ancillary benefits of supporting the development of local professional soccer.

The thrill lasted up until the final minutes of the game. But fate held a consolation prize for the visitors (the No. 3 occupant of the NASL’s eight-seat ranking table while Indy is No. 8), who were able to see a corner kick (perhaps deflected off an Indy player’s attempted head clearance) find the back of the net to equalize.

Minutes later, the ref blew the whistle marking the conclusion of both the match and Indy Eleven’s fourth season on the field.

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We don’t know what our roster will look like in 2018 — we’re not even sure about the shape of our league within a shifting landscape at the national level — but we do know we’ve seen some great soccer and have much potential to nourish in the years to come.

What does the future hold?

We know that Gerardo Torrado and Sinisa Ubiparipovic are retiring. But beyond that, this is where the business-side of the operation gets busy sharpening their pencils, negotiating the additions and subtractions to the roster, all while a tremendous amount of uncertainty swirls through the U.S. soccer community in terms of league structure and team development. [The inability of the U.S. Men’s National Team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the North American Soccer League’s suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation lead the narrative underscoring unrest and dissatisfaction with the status quo at the men’s pro level.]

We also know that despite insults from outsiders — and those who would judge our local attempts at a professional game as no more than gussied up amateurism — Indiana has seen — and played — some great games. Our future progress may happen in fits and starts; it undoubtedly has been hampered by our politicians’ inability to be early adapters when it comes to enabling the construction of a soccer-specific stadium that will allow Indianapolis to host world-class matches as part of the city’s sports-centered development strategy. But our progress is inevitable.

For four seasons, thousands of fans have continued to pack the stands and support the team, through good times and bad. Typically, we don’t see business ignore the willingness of so many people to pull out their wallets, which provides hope that despite league drama, Indy will persevere.

Plus, local love of the game continues to inspire new generations to become best friends with their soccer balls. Somewhere at this very moment in Indiana, a kid is working on individual footskills, others are juggling in a group, or taking each other on in cocky displays of creativity and speed. This is Indiana soccer at the grassroots, a deep-seeded passion that has driven us for generations and will continue to power us in the years ahead: the willingness to work to be the very best we can be — as individuals and as teammates. This combination leads the Pitch Bitch to posit that future success for Indiana soccer at all levels is pre-ordained, an inevitability that no amount of greed or ego will ever upend.

(Photos by Rebecca Townsend, who apologizes for the exposure and graininess, but hopes her humble equipment captured enough of the game’s spirit to convey the story.)

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A final shoutout to my husband and daughter, who have been dedicated Indy Eleven season ticket holders since the beginning, faithfully holding down their seats behind the East-End Goal through blazing heat, bitter cold and driving rain. Thank you guys for supporting local soccer — and indulging the incurable, lifelong need of your wife and mother to be involved the sport. You guys are the best and I love you!

Thanks to the Indy Eleven media team for this Scoring Summary:
NCFC – Billy Schuler (Danny Barrow 4’)
IND – Eamon Zayed (Ben Speas 20’)
IND – Cory Miller (Nemanja Vukovic 65’)
NCFC – Billy Schuler (Lance Laing 89’)

Discipline Summary:
NCFC – Danny Barrow 19’
IND – David Goldsmith 88’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-1-3-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch (GK); Nemanja Vukovic, Cory Miller, Colin Falvey, Marco Franco; Gerardo Torrado © , Ben Speas (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 58’), Tanner Thompson (Paulo Junior 75’), Don Smart; Eamon Zayed, David Goldsmith

IND bench: Keith Cardona (GK); Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Cory Miller, Christian Lomeli, Adrian Ables

North Carolina FC lineup (4-5-1, L->R): Brian Sylvestre (GK) (Macklin Robinson 32’); Paul Black, Connor Tobin, James Marcelin, Kareem Moses; Austin Da Luz (Lance Laing 79’), Tiyi Shipalane, Bolu Akinyode, Daniel Barrow (Nazmi Albadawi 64’), Marcel Kandziora; Billy Schuler

NCFC bench: Saeed Robinson, Jonathan Glenn, Brad Ruhaak, D.J. Taylor

The Pitch Bitch joins Bloody Shambles

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The Pitch Bitch will no longer be on a solo mission. In mid-April, she joined forces with long-time Indy Eleven-centered soccer conglomerate Bloody Shambles, which now is hosting the Pitch Bitch’s creative contributions.

Need to catch up? Following below are the pieces she’s shared so far. We’ve got 12 more 2018 home games to go! If you need/want more, check out James Cormack, the Pitch Bitch and Guy-Jo Gordon getting their podcasting pipes warmed up. The Bloody Shambles crew plans to record again tomorrow night ahead of Indy’s 1 p.m. away game Sunday against New York Red Bulls II. The Pitch Bitch loves to join the faithful Brickyard Battalion flock to watch away games at Union Jack Pub, 924 Broad Ripple Ave.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Time To Hit The Reset Button – Indy Eleven V Bethlehem Steel FC REVIEW

Zach Steinberger scored Indy’s solitary goal against Bethlehem Steel in a 1-2 loss.
A disappointing week — with an early exit from the U.S. Open Cup, the only open, true test of soccer champions offered in this country — morphed into a disappointing weekend for Indy Eleven with a 1-2 home loss on Saturday to Bethlehem Steel.
In post-game comments, Indy head coach Martin Rennie was ready to push the reset button. His tired team was ready for a refreshment of minds, bodies, and spirits. He was the first to admit that the squad’s teamwork, passing and movement were off, that too many opportunities were given away because of rushed play. And, he said, he offered no excuses for himself or his team regardless of their recent grind of several games on the road with several talented players benched to injury. (Click here to read the whole post at BloodyShambles.com.)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pleasure And Pain Aplenty, Parting Shots From A Rough Ride – Indy Eleven V FC Cincinnati REVIEW

Ayoze from the spot gets his first goal for Indy Eleven (Photo: Clyde Townsend)

By: Rebecca Townsend

Minute 5, Cincy’s Corben Bone is not shut down as he streamed into Indy’s left defensive channel and launches a cross into the box where his striker Emery Welshman escaped a brief interaction with Brad Ring, somewhat akin to a do-si-do, before what looked from the press box to be rather incidental, off-balance contact with Carlyle Mitchell. To the ref it looked like a PK. Cincy midfielder Kenney Walker nails his shot. 1-0.

The hosts redoubled their efforts to regain the upper hand. It did not take them long.

Hungry Indy striker Jack McInerney worked for his meat, feasting on his interception of a Cincy pass in the 24th minute, Cool Jack Mack drives a shot toward Spencer Richey that sent the visiting goalie into full panic mode. In diving to block McInerney’s first effort, Richey set his rival up for a rebound shot. McInerney, a veteran of MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team, embodied cool, calm, collected focus and, with ease, guided the ball into the net. 1-1.  (Read the whole post at BloodyShambles.com.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Soaring Like Eagles, Indy Eleven’s Power Animals Emerge – Charlotte Independence V Indy Eleven PREVIEW 4/28/2018

Indy Eleven going through final preparations before heading to Charlotte tomorrow.(Photo: Pitch Bitch)


By: The Pitch Bitch (Rebecca Townsend)

Today’s soccer story is not about individuals. It is about a team. About vision. About internalizing identity. Today’s soccer story is about what Indy is — and what it aspires to be.
Thanks to an upbringing among the hippies and woodland folk of Bloomington, Indiana, and the surrounding country, the Pitch Bitch is inclined to look toward her natural environment for signs and signals — for messages.
Today, the message was power — in the form of first an eagle and then three hawks. These magnificent creatures will bookend this soccer story. [I had so much fun writing this piece. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading the rest of it at BloodyShambles.com.]
———
Finally, we’re going to be podcasting throughout the season. In our first experiment, I talk a little about my soccer background — and Guy-Jo Gordon gives us a rundown on the futsal-driven community building an Indiana crew has partnered with in Cuba. (Guy-Jo is currently in Cuba and with his local partners has organized and hosted a new futsal tournament for men and women players.)
So where do we stand today, May 23, as we head into Memorial Day Weekend?
Indy Eleven faces the New York Red Bulls II at 1 p.m. on the road this Sunday, May 27. The next home game will be at 7 p.m. against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday, May 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets start at $15 at IndyElevenTickets.com or by calling (317)685-1100.
Currently, the team’s record stands at 4-2-3 (WLWWDLWDL) with nine USL regular season games played so far. On the road, the team is unbeaten. All three losses have come at home: once to Bethlehem Steel and twice to Cincinnati F.C. Cincy currently sits at the top of the USL Eastern Conference standings, boasting 20 points collects in 10 games. Indy has 14 points in 9 games played. (In professional soccer, a win worth 3 points, a tie is worth one and a loss is worth nothing.)

Stream of conscious coming out of the fantasy that is Indianapolis Ballet

Abbreviated reflections before bed following an evening of amazing Indy Ballet

By REBECCA TOWNSEND

The Indianapolis Ballet told three magnificent stories tonight at The Toby at Newfields.*

Victoria Lyras, Indy Ballet’s founding artistic director, never ceases to amaze with her creative vision and tonight’s world premiere of her original work, Éclat!, was stunning!

Indeed the ballet feeds an internal fantasy for its audience, transporting folks away from the mundane minutia of ordinary life and into something else. Éclat offered the experience of witnessing a real-life scene from Walt Disney’s epic animated musical work Fantasia. Literally, the dancers appeared to be part of the song as they weaved up and down through the exciting fabric of the third movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. Minimalist lighting and costuming had a maximalist effect

The thought occurred that dance evolves — and is evolving. Both the dance and the music of Éclat illustrate this evolution. While listening to Prokofiev, one witness laughed to herself, asking, “Is this jazz or classical?” because it all seemed to be some kind of new hybrid. The toughness, the softness, the playfulness, the rhythm of the dancers resonated in a new way that felt fresh yet based in and true to the classical foundation.

The fresh-yet-based in the elegant and powerful beauty of classical ballet carried through into the other two pieces performed as part of the Indy Ballet’s May Residency program, the evening’s main feature — a delightful rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream — and the “Wedding Pas de Deux” of Don Quixote.

Why bother bashing out these quick thoughts tonight? Because there is still time for Indianapolis to pack the theatre on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. and May 20 at 3 p.m. The performance entertained all ages Friday, including a child sitting right behind yours truly with lots of laughs for founding Indianapolis Ballet company member Chris Lingner’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s Puck. Andrew Phillips dancing as Bottom the donkey with Kristin Young Toner (also a company founding member) was also a hoot!

Here’s a hyperlink for tickets and pricing info:

Adult: $25/$30/$35

Students (K-12 & college): $20/$25/$30

Seniors (65 & over): $20/$25/$30

* Once known as the Indianapolis Art Museum

Pitch Bitch, episode 7: Indy Eleven 2018 season opener shatters attendance record

FC Cincinnati Scores

An unchecked Emmanuel Ledesma (near the Honda sign in the background) launched the perfect cross to forward Emery Welshman, who deserves credit for clearing two Indy defenders and an outstretched Fon Williams as he delivered his header into the net.

If you must lose, Indy, at least be killed by a beautiful goal. There is no shame in that.

By Rebecca Townsend

Photos by Clyde Townsend

Indianapolis, Indiana (April 2, 2018) — Indy Eleven lost its home opener to FC Cincinnati 0-1 on Saturday night.

Victory is usually delicious — and claiming it in the first match between American soccer squads playing in Lucas Oil Stadium would have been tasty indeed. But that honor will go to the Queen City, Indy’s neighbor to the southeast — one of a slate of regional rivals gained with the offseason change to the United Soccer League.

The top two tiers of 70,000-seat Lucas Oil were shrouded behind curtains. Below, a crowd of 17,535 stuffed the lower-tier seats surrounding the field, suggesting that Indy Eleven’s previous record of 11,048 people, which packed the team’s previous home at IUPUI’s Michael Carroll Stadium, was capped by the capacity of stadium, not by the limits of the local market.

Over 1,000 of Saturday’s spectators were Cincinnati folk of various manner, decked out in orange and blue —many armed with loud instruments, uncouth language and banners featuring evocative satirical symbolism involving Indiana’s former governor/current U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Brad Ring stoicism

Cincinnati fans heckle former governor Pence and Indy’s Brad Ring as the stoic veteran considers throw-in options.

In Indy’s North American Soccer League years, the closest opposing team was probably North Carolina. Now at home in the United Soccer League, Indy game nights promise much more drama with teams such as FC Cincinnati, Louisville City FC and Saint Louis FC arriving with caravans of fans in tow, thrilled at the chance to party in Indy. The Pitch Bitch is here to help grow that party. More on that later on, but first: time to hash out the nitty gritty of the game.

WTF Pasher

Though the caption to this particular photo is essentially, “WTF, Pasher?”, Tyler Pasher wasted no time making his presence felt on the field Saturday as he served Indy attackers with SO MANY opportunities to score. Continued efforts on Pasher’s part should yield positive results.

The first name that comes to mind — and to the Pitch Bitch’s game notes: Tyler Pasher, a defender with great foot skills, capable of dribbling at great speed into enemy territory, shaking off defenders to his left and right before striking a lovely cross “into the mixer” of the 18-yard box where goal scorers lurk ready to strike. He first delivered just such a play about three minutes into the match — and continued to both bring the ball up field himself and share with this teammates in ways that satisfied the Bitch that he is certain to be part of many goal-scoring combinations to come.

Note to far-side runners when Pasher is breaking down the flank: Make sure one of you remains — or breaks — truly wide. On at least one occasion during the match, a Pasher cross overshot two runners streaming to the goal centrally. Perhaps instead of stacking up runs where two Indy guys are running in one top of each other in front of the goal, one guy can fade further toward the far sideline and collect Pasher’s lovely dish instead of watching it roll out of bounds.

In terms of constructive criticism for Pasher (a native of Elmira, Canada, who will turn 24 later this month): Young man, please do not attempt to dribble off the goal box when there is an FCC player standing there willing and able to stick you. That could have been a goal. You know what else could have been a goal? That awesome cross you made to McInerney’s head and was unlucky to be rejected by fate — in the form of the post. Keep up the good work, sir. The Bitch predicts it will pay off.

Other defensive issues noted, but not associated with any names in particular: 1) Stabbing at balls when no other defensive buffer was in place aside from the keeper. 2) Allowing attackers to turn on goal when a more aggressive approach could have slowed them. The first instance is a case of too much aggression. The second, not enough.

When a defender finds himself the last field player back — and an attacker is salivating for a goal because he is facing his defender, ready to shake that last obstacle before opening a shot —the trick for the D is to keep dancing, remaining an obnoxious obstacle, the D that can’t be shook. Of course, attackers sometimes get a little too cocky, or aggressive, or so dangerous that one must step in — and, at times, take them out. But taking an attacker out is a calculated risk, whereas stabbing at a ball, missing and leaving your keeper in a one-on-one situation is just sloppy. Talented attackers know how to exploit such weakness with devastating effects. (Luckily for Indy, the Cincy shot that resulted from this particular play amounted to nothing thanks to Owain Fon Williams.)  On the flip side, not closing down the space on an attacker receiving the ball with their back to your goal, allowing them time to turn toward the goal without feeling a defender breathing down their neck, that’s a critical lack of aggression.

Now to some observations on defenders Reiner Ferreira and Karl Ouimette, who were teammates on the 2017 NASL championship-winning San Francisco Deltas.

Another head on attack for IndyThe second of a pair of credible aerial threats from Indy, this one featuring left back Reiner Ferreira, a product of Brazilian and Portuguese soccer leagues before claiming the 2017 NASL championship with the San Francisco Deltas.

Ferreira delivered a version of so-called professional foul when he took out an FCC player attempting to dust him down the sideline in a rush on the Indy goal. Ferreira may have thought the hard tackle of his opponent necessary so as to avoid possibly leaving Fon Williams in a one-on-one, but the move resulted in consequent injury and Ferreira ended up watching from the sideline with his left foot in a boot as Brad Ring stepped in to play his position. Did his tackle prevent a goal? Maybe. Was it worth it? Let’s see how long this boot stays on.

When it comes to fouls, Ouimette is one to watch. Some of his antics can hardly be mistaken as necessary roughness. (The Bitch witnessed Saturday the use of a choke hold on an opposing players in an attempt to gain position during an incoming corner kick.) Time will tell whether this level of aggression will become a problem in terms of penalties called against Indy.

The problem cropped copy

Cincy’s Welshman, shown here a step ahead of Ouimette, will get a threatening header on this incoming free kick. He will get a head on this ball — and Fon Williams will save it. But a few minutes later, he will be in a similar position, a step ahead of Mitchell and behind Ferreira, and will meet a Ledesma cross, using his head to make it a goal.

The defense generally did a good job with mobility and pressing into aggressive attacks — attacks that made credible threats on goal, attacks that could have easily altered the score line.

“Could have” can either be an inspiration or a curse moving forward. It will be a matter of the relative patience, cooperation and ambition of the Indy team. What kind of team will they be? Will players seek self improvement or sow discord? The roster is stacked with talented, experienced players, many of whom did not see playing time Saturday. Indy head coach Martin Rennie’s weekly roster-writing chores can’t be easy. And checking egos to keep a collective eye on team victories can’t be easy either, but humility will be rewarded. The meek shall and inherit the earth and the selfless players will succeed if they allow the pure joy of expressing their talent to drive their performances, even if their efforts are only used to lift teammates to higher levels in practice.

Looking at the plays leading up to FCC’s goal, here are some things that could have gone differently.

A minute or so before Emery Welshman’s header gave Cincinnati its game-winning goal, Indy forward Eugene Starikov (previously a member of the New York Cosmos) was on the attack, positioned in the midfield. While most of the action was unfolding in front of him and to his left, Indy fullback Ouimette sprang into action to offer an overlapping pass option down the open right flank. Starikov began dribbling to avoid defense in front of him, but then was shut down from behind. He was able to disrupt Cincy’s efforts to counter at that point, but as Indy tried to re-establish its attack, Pasher tried to dribble into midfield defense instead of using his open drop pass.

Ouimette’s cardio-intensive effort was wasted, leaving the poor Indy defender to haul ass to help shut down Cincy’s counter-attacking shot, which was indeed repelled just in time for Ouimette to clear it out of danger. But by this time, Cincy’s goal-scoring juju was churning. Cincy sent the ball out to its left flank, where it was crossed immediately back to Ledesma on the right. Indy was not able to pressure Ledesma quickly enough to prevent his beautiful service to Welshman’s head. Though Ouimette and Carlyle Mitchell were around Welshman inside the 18-yard box, he slipped their grasp — and he deserves credit for an outstanding goal.

If you must lose, Indy, at least be killed by a beautiful goal. There is no shame in that.

Watson on the attack

Captain Matt Watson, a UK native and a 12-year veteran of the MLS, USL and NASL, offered tenacious pressure from the midfield Saturday. But Cincy keeper Evan Newton met no challenge he could not conquer on Saturday.

Indy midfielder Matt Watson responded to the FCC goal with a shot of his own,  forcing Cincy keeper Evan Newton into action. But Newton was on point, rejecting that and all further attempts of the evening —including a Jack McInerney penalty shot, awarded around the 38th minute.

The Pitch Bitch appreciated the play of starting midfielders Zach Steinberger, a graduate of Butler University, and Nico Matern, a 6-foot Buxtehude, Germany native, who played for Indiana Wesleyan and earned National Christian College Athletic Association All-Team honors. Steinberger exhibited indefatigable hustle in trying to open attacking options through the midfield and Matern carried himself with an air of composure as he worked to neutralize Cincy attacks.

The only constructive criticism for Matern involves a beautifully placed ground pass that he launched from the Indy midfield with the hope of covering maybe 30 yards and avoiding several Cincy players before hitting his attacking teammate  ready to take off on the opposing flank. The idea is laudable because ground passes are great when they make it. But while Matern’s pass was on the correct trajectory across the turf, it was all but impossible to put enough speed on a pass that far. The inevitable interception could have been avoided with a well-timed chip over midfield chaos into the path of the breaking runner.

No one wants to watch a long-ball game, with long, high crosses bouncing back and forth between defensive thirds, but switching fields with a chippy cross is a great wave to upend an opponent’s defensive groove. It’s what Cincy did to Indy in the two plays before they scored.

The Bitch is excited to see the passing chemistry of the entire group grow as they learn to trust each other and anticipate the ebb and flow of their respective rhythms.

Last-minute substitutions Soony Saad, a product of the University of Michigan and the MLS franchise Sporting Kansas City, and returning Indy forward Justin Braun continued to tests Newton’s limits up until the match’s concluding moments.

Penalty stopped

Cincy keeper Evan Newton met every challenge presented to him Saturday, including Jack McInerney’s penalty kick.

Newton passed the test this time.

The Bitch would like to see what would happen in a Cincy rematch with Braun and Saad starting up top along with McInerney. Or perhaps a Braun, Saad, Speas combo up top.

To think about all the players yet to be featured, the gifts yet to be shared, the combinations and chemistry yet to be seen … Indy is just getting started.

Lucas Oil will be a good home for the season, even as the futbol faithful remain committed to a world-class grass field housed in a stadium befitting Indiana’s great soccer tradition.

Much talk will be had over the coming year on whether this team can survive, if owner Ersal Ozdemir will continue to bleed millions of dollars a year if a stadium deal does not materialize.

The Pitch Bitch knows the market is here to be had — that the capacity to grow this team — and the women’s team that we desperately need for the health both the men’s and women’s sport —is just beginning to be coaxed from its dormant state and into a vibrant economy. Solid commitment, work ethic and refusal to quit in the face of adversity can see this team capture the heart of the city and grow into a world-class legacy club.

One way or another, the soccer deal needs to be done in a way that makes Hoosiers proud, that builds on a powerful and honorable tradition we’ve grown here. Let no one and nothing stand in the way.

The Eleven travel to play North Carolina FC on April 7. The team’s next home game is April 14, when they will host Nashville SC at noon. All home games will be at Lucas Oil Stadium. People who believe that growing the professional game in Indiana is good for the state can put their money where their mouth is by purchasing tickets (which start at $15 for single games and $9 per game with a season ticket). Spread the word.

[The goal is scored in the 26th minute, the 38th minute of the video.]

USL game summary
Indy Eleven 0:1 FC Cincinnati
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

Scoring Summary:
CIN – Emery Welshman (Emmanuel Ledesma) 26’

Discipline Summary:

IND – Reiner Ferreira 41’
IND – Jack McInerney 45 + 4’
CIN – Dekel Keinan 54’
CIN – Forrest Lasso 74’

Indy Eleven lineup (1-4-4-2, L–>R):  Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Tyler Pasher, Reiner Ferreira (Ring 44’), Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette; Nico Marten, Matt Watson (C) (Braun 86’) Ben Speas (Saad 57’), Zach Steinberger; Eugene Starikov, Jack McInerney (Justin Braun 90+1’)

Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lungaard (GK); Brad Rusin; Brad Ring, Juan Guerra; Justin Braun, Soony Saad, Nathan Lewis 

FC Cincinnati  lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Evan Newton Worra (GK); Blake Smith, Dekel Keinan, Forrest Lasso,  Justin Hoyte; Kenney Walker (Seymore 17’), Corben Bone, Richie Ryan, Lance Laing (Haber 65’); Emmanuel Ledesma, Emery Welshman (Konig 80’)

FC Cincinnati bench: Spencer Richey (GK); Matt Bahn

A time-honored tradition: Indy/NY draw

(The Pitch Bitch, episode 5 … the beginning of the great multimedia experiment)

img_2206

Smoke hovers over the field following Indy’s second goal (a Don Smart assist finished by Eamon Zayed) against the New York Cosmos on Oct. 7, 2017. (Photo by Rebecca Townsend)

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 8, 20717) — Among the most dramatic storylines in the history of Indy Eleven: Which team would first earn a win — Indy or the New York Cosmos — after the first six meetings (all 2014 and 2015 games) resulted in draws.

And though the sting will always remain for Indy of losing the 2016 championship to the Cosmos (in penalty kicks), Indy will forever have the glory of being the first to claim a victory in the match up (Eamon Zayed bagged two goals in a thrill-packed 2:1 home win April 16, 2016). And some of the best goals in the North American Soccer League have come as Indy and New York players have scrambled to protect team honor — or earn bragging rights.

Last night’s match was no exception. Beautiful goals all around for a 2:2 finish.

Thanks to Indy Eleven and the North American Soccer League for this highlight video:

In the East End Goal stands, the Pitch Bitch launched a new multimedia experiment. GoPro video will enable some cool new features, but the Pitch Bitch is issuing a formal apology to Don Smart, who scored the first goal of the evening last night — and delivered it at the perfect angle for us to see. His perfect goal came so quickly that our audio/visual skills could not engage the equipment in time to capture the beauty of his triumph (streaking up the right flank he released a shot that hooked just under crossbar and into the far side of the net). Here, however, here is the aftermath: (Warning: The Pitch Bitch is a screamer)

There are risks involved in being creative — sometimes they don’t pay off. This Indy freekick, for example, failed to flummox the Cosmos:

Brad Ring, here’s our gut reaction to your most egregious foul of the evening:

Eamon Zayed was breathing down Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer’s throat — and came close — twice in short succession — to stuffing the ball in the back of the net:

And just for fun, some pre-game bonding:

Pitch Bitch, episode 5

Puerto Rico FC v Indy Eleven

An evening of soccer in haiku

Zayed and Ramon of PR FC

Eamon Zayed gets a critical step on Puerto Rico’s Ramon Soria as he nails a header into the net for his second goal of the evening. (Image/graphic courtesy of Indy Eleven)

Searching for inspiration while watching the first half of this evening’s match, the Pitch Bitch opted to exercise an under-utilized tool in the field of sports reporting: haiku.

Inelegant ball

dominates back-and-forth play

in first-half review.

Indy’s fails unchecked,

PR club not so lucky.

Zayed slays loose ball.

Oh no, Don Smart down!

Worry fades as speedy Don stands,

remains in the game.

At half, home team up

one-nothing, but game open.

Much is possible.

Perhaps tight passing,

creative, play-making runs:

The beautiful game.

On to second half:

We see many more long passes.

One sets assist.

Marco Franco spies

Zayed streaming up weak side;

cross to head finds goal!

 

With just minutes left

Indy allows handball in box

Puerto Rico scores.

 

Visitors earn a

consolation prize from hosts:

goals for everyone.

 

Too bad teams lost cool.

Near match’s end, fight breaks out.

No class in violence.

 

The win is Indy’s

but Puerto Rico returns

to play again soon.

 

P.S. Hurricane

Relief more important than game.

Please donate today!

 

Watch soccer, support hurricane relief

Phanuel Kavita of D.R. Congo Jordi Quintillà Ramón Soria Alonso

The Pitch Bitch (aka Rebecca Townsend) welcoming Puerto Rico FC players to Indianapolis ahead of their Oct. 4 match against Indy Eleven, which kicks off at 7 p.m. at Michael Carroll Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis. (From Left: defender Phanuel Kavita of D.R. Congo, attacking midfielder Jordi Quintillà of Spain, Rebecca Townsend and Ramón Soria Alonso, also of Spain. Attendees at the match will have plenty of opportunity to contribute to hurricane relief — and show their support in person as the Puerto Rican team takes to the field.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has a chance to show Puerto Rico that Hoosiers are in solid support of hurricane relief by packing Michael Carroll Stadium at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, Oct. 4, Downtown Indianapolis, when Puerto Rico FC and Indy Eleven face off.

Indy will be passing the bucket — and driving web traffic — to Puerto Rico FC owner Carmelo Anthony‘s hurricane relief fund. In a piece published in the Players’ Tribune, Anthony makes a straight-forward, heartfelt pitch for major assistance — and makes a contribution of his own to get things started:

“The entire island is dark. But even if we can’t hear it, there’s more than 3 million people down there calling out for help. Imagine your house being powerless for just one hour. Just one day. Just one week. Imagine the young kids you have in your life — your son, your daughter, your nephew, your granddaughter — imagine them being scared and hungry for just one day.

“Puerto Ricans are facing the possibility of six months of that kind of struggle. I think about my own family in that situation and I can’t even wrap my mind around it. I can’t grasp it. I know there’s so many different things going on in America and in the world right now that need our attention, but damn … I need your help. I need the help of anybody reading this. We have to help the people of Puerto Rico get the supplies they need to survive day-to-day until their country can be built up again.

“I’ve set up a YouCaring donation page to aid the relief efforts. Any help you can give will get directly into the hands of those who need it — you have my word. I’ve been doing community work on the island for the past 10 years, but this is another level. I’m starting with an immediate $50,000 donation, but I need your help in this fight.”

The night before the match, Indy Eleven hosted a dinner in honor of the visiting team and to help draw attention to relief efforts.

“We’re chatting about their day-to-day situation, their worries with their families,” Indy Eleven captain Colin Falvey said of his discussions with players and team officials. “Right now they’re in a bad, bad situation. For me, the futbol will take care of itself tomorrow night: tonight we’re all about embracing them into our city and showing the support of our club.”

Falvey added that he expects Wednesday’s match “to be a high-tempo, intense fight between two very good teams,” noting that since a coaching change at Puerto Rico he sees their team as “playing a different style of futbol, a more attractive style.”

Local soccer blogger and fan extraordinaire Nipun Chopra, PhD, has been at the forefront of local hurricane relief efforts aimed specifically at helping members of the Puerto Rico FC family effected by the storm. With the help of 133 people over the past 12 days, Chopra’s GoFundMe campaign has, to date, collected $15,923 of the fund’s stated $20,000 goal.

“Tomorrow night we continue our fundraising efforts for Carmelo Anthony’s hurricane relief fund,” said Indy Eleven’s media liaison Scott Stewart, encouraging people to come out to the game. In addition to the online donation options, he added, “There will be a bucket brigade.”

For more information on Puerto Rican relief efforts — and tickets for the Puerto Rico FC/Indy Eleven matchup — can be found at IndyEleven.com.

For more insight into the level of devastation the people of Puerto Rico — and many other Caribbean islands are facing post-Maria, as well — check out this slideshow from NBC news: https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/hurricane-maria-lashes-storm-battered-caribbean-n802936.

 

The Pitch Bitch, episode four

Indy Eleven rewards faithful fans with victory

Tribute to a fallen Brickyard Battalion member

Sept 14 pre-game

The pre-game activities included a remembrance of Brickyard Battalion member Drew Schwier, 26, who died unexpectedly Sept. 7.

The program to Indy Eleven’s Sept. 13 home game against North Carolina FC featured a note written by striker Eamon Zayed.

He communicated his deep appreciation for Indy Eleven supporters, about how he saw and respected fans’ capacity to uphold the tenets of passion, commitment, loyalty, love, belief and hope.*

And on an evening when Indy’s Brickyard Battalion mourned the loss and celebrated the life of super fan Drew Schwier, Zayed — with the help of a well-place Marco Franco feed to his head — saved Indy from what promised to be a 0-0 draw by (in the final minute of regulation time) driving the ball into the wide right netting of the Carolina goal.

So, in memory of Drew and in honor of the fans who stay to the end, the Boys in Blue claimed victory in Downtown Indianapolis.

When the season begins to slip away and a team is sitting at the bottom of the table in a league struggling to survive, what motivates the players to dig deep, to show up ready to play? Those very characteristics Zayed identified in the fans: passion, commitment, loyalty, love, belief and hope.

Players can do something with those ingredients. Indy’s players are trying to get their game cooking. There are still areas in need of improvement, but one can find plenty of positive fodder.

What can be said about the details of tonight’s match? In general, Indy held the upper hand in terms of dictating the pace of the game — but the pace was generally pretty slow. Though Don Smart returned to active duty late into the match, which helped to accelerate Indy’s attack.

Indy’s propensity to keep pushing forward with its outside fullbacks continues to pay dividends — and offset the associated risks of potentially exposed flanks. Left back Nemanja Vukovic stepped up enough to force Carolina keeper Brian Sylvestre into action on more than one occasion. His counterpart to the wide right, Marco Franco, plowed into the attack on several occasions as well — and launched the pass that enabled the evening’s only goal.

With solid experience, positioning and communication, Jon Busch, Colin Falvey, Cory Miller, Brad Ring and Gerardo Torrado were mostly able to make the adjustments necessary to enable Vukovic and Franco’s flight patterns. The pressure on the defense, it must be noted, was not as stiff one might expected from Carolina, given the team is ranked No. 2 among North American Soccer League teams. N.C. FC’s James Marcelin received a red card just before the half, leaving his teammates to play down a man for the rest of the match. Even with a man-up advantage, Indy was barely able to capitalize on the opportunity. The most important point, however, is that they did capitalize.

They did not give up.

The Sept. 13 game also marked the debut of midfielder Paulo Jr., a product of Brazil who has been playing professionally for a decade. He started the match in an attacking position and demonstrated commendable ball control and aggressive pressure.  There’s room for him to make a mark as his team prepares to make the most with what is left of this season.

If the boys stay on track — if true passion drives them — some great games remain in their future, even this season. Does a city need a championship to find worth in its team? No. Sometimes a simple victory like today’s serves to remind us of one of life’s most salient lessons: Make the most of this very moment. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift: the present.

Today Indy Eleven did not give up. They kept hammering and earned their just desserts.

Now, as Jay Z says, “On to the next one!”

The team travels to Canada this weekend to take on FC Edmonton on Sept. 17. Kickoff is 4 p.m. EDT. Indy Eleven’s next home match is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 against Puerto Rico FC.

* Zayed’s piece also urged people to read this article by Nuri Sahin, a Turkish international player who was with his team Borussia Dortmund when a bomb exploded outside its bus on the way to a European Champions League game.

The Pitch Bitch, episode three

Cory Miller v Deltas sept 2 2017 coIndyEleven

Cory Miller returned to Indy Eleven’s defensive line Sept 2. after a 10-month absence for ankle reconstruction and rehab. The visiting San Francisco Deltas kept him — and his teammates — quite busy. (Photo courtesy of Indy Eleven via NASL’s Twitter feed.)

Deltas blues hits Indy

San Francisco Deltas defeat Indy Eleven 2-0

Indy Eleven and the San Francisco Deltas have been teasing each other throughout 2017. They opened with a 1-1 draw on March 25 in San Francisco, followed by a 0-0 April game in Indy and a 2-2 match back on the West Coast in June.

At halftime on September 2 in Indianapolis, the Deltas were up 1-0. With more than 8,700 in attendance pressing them on, Indy launched several attacking efforts throughout the second half. But an equalizing goal remained elusive — and the Deltas left the field for the night as the dominant team. In fact, in the 88th minute, the visitors added one more goal for good measure. In stoppage time, they fired one more point blank scorcher. Indy goalie Jon Busch denied that effort.

Final score 0-2.

The first half tested Indy’s defensive capabilities. The Pitch Bitch was delighted to see the return of Cory Miller to the defensive backline. As one might expect for a player returning to his first match after a 10-month absence in injury rehab, he had some lapses, which his teammates could (mostly) cover. He certainly had his hands full — as did the rest of the D — with the Deltas’ relentless attacks from all angles. But he brought the type of raw physicality necessary to keep the Deltas (mostly) in check — as did Falvey. Falvey will be haunted by San Francisco’s second goal (see the video below in which the Deltas’ Pablo Dyego plays Gerardo Torrado, Falvey and Busch), but he’d do well to remember that he had many important plays throughout the game and deserves special credit for a solid tackle early on that delayed the attacker and the ball long enough for defense to reset and disarm an immediate, point-blank threat. At another point, the Delta’s Devon Sandoval ripped Falvey down in the box — but Falvey and his teammates remained cool-headed — and for the next several minutes, in control of their box.

Last night’s video footage will provide examples of how individual players could make adjustments to address some tactical deficiencies (adjustments from Vuko, Miller and Ring could have potentially neutralized the Pablo Dyego/Michael Stephens combo that led to the first goal), but there is much to praise. Much talent, physicality and experience. Miller and Falvey as central backs with Marco Franco and Nemanja Vukovic outside, Brad Ring providing extra coverage and Busch backing the whole operation seems to the Pitch Bitch to provide a solid defensive foundation from which Indy can build.

Speaking of building, last night’s notes indicate that Indy is building plays out of the back. And she likes the speed and tight passing through the midfield and into the attacking half. The next trick will be slowing transitions into attack — and even actual attacks — enough that they are not frenetic. It’s a tough order to slow play down only to speed up, but the talent exists the guys can begin to breathe and have more fun as they connive to pull their opponents out of position. The potential is present.

Indy’s offensive highlights from the night include a good crack from Ben Speas at 13 minutes, which flew over the net. David Goldsmith had a great look dishing a diving header opportunity to Eamon Zayed. Though it was inches out of the flying Irishman’s reach, it’s an exercise worth repeating as it promises to pay goal-sized dividends.

Losses are tough. On keepers as much as anyone. So this episode will conclude with an appreciation of Busch, who recently played his 500th match as a professional match. The Pitch Bitch has had a long-time saying that “it takes a special kind of crazy to be a keeper.” She is not sure where they come from — or how every team seems to have one or two materialize on their behalf. Busch has been a source of consistent amazement. He is 41 — ancient in pro soccer terms — yet his athleticism enables some of the most amazing saves ever performed at Michael Carroll Stadium. And let’s not forget: The man is flinging himself about on pitiful, unforgiving turf. (Would that the city’s political leaders figure out a way to provide its pro soccer team with the lush grass that world-class players expect and deserve!!!!) Busch has saved Indy’s ass SO MANY TIMES. In last night’s match, he blocked a shot within the first minute and had several other important saves throughout the evening.

Way to go, Busch! Keep calling the shots back there in the Indy net and we will have brighter days ahead.

Now, it’s Sunday morning and it’s time for church. Lord knows there’s plenty to pray about.