Kelly bags 10th USL goal
INDIANAPOLIS, United States (CMC):
Jamaican Dane Kelly struck a half-time brace to take his goal tally for the season to 10 as Indy Eleven edged Swope Park Rangers 2-1 to close out their United Soccer League (USL) regular season campaign with their second win in three outings here on Wednesday night.
The encounter at the Lucas Oil Stadium here remained goalless at the break but came to life on resumption when Kelly struck in the 56th minute and Wilson Harris equalised a minute later.
However, Kelly was on target again in the 67th to put the hosts ahead for good and assure them of a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings and at least one home game in the upcoming playoffs.
They ended on 63 points narrowly behind leaders Pittsburgh Riverhounds (65) and second-place Nashville SC (64), both of whom have won four of their last five in unbeaten runs.
Indy Eleven started positively and came close to going ahead in the 14th minute when Kelly smashed a header on to the crossbar, with goalkeeper Eric Dick beaten following Ayoze Garcia’s floated cross from the left.
And it was Garcia who was the provider for the first goal, easing down the left flank and against crossing for Kelly to beat Dick with a sharp finish from close range, 11 minutes into the second half.
The lead did not last long as Ethan Vanacore-Decker raced down the left and looped a gentle cross into the box where the 19-year-old Harris found himself free to easily nod past goalkeeper Jordan Farr.
Indy Eleven went in search of the crucial goal and got it courtesy of a pleasant build-up in midfield, capped off by a neat return ball from Kenny Walker, which Kelly chested in while colliding with the advancing Dick.
The defeat for Rangers was their third straight and left them rock bottom on 26 points as one of seven teams eliminated from playoff contention.
At the MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston in the southeast, Bermudian winger Zeiko Lewis set up one goal and then scored his seventh of the season as Battery kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-0 victory over already-eliminated Memphis 901 – only their first win in four outings.
Lewis sent a pacey corner kick into the box in the 30th minute, which captain Taylor Mueller glanced in at the near post to give the hosts a vital 1-0 lead at the half.
And Battery had breathing space when Lewis scored in the 63rd minute, showing tremendous strength to hold off two defenders and squeeze his shot between goalkeeper Scott Levene and the near post.
Battery currently occupy the last playoff spot on 43 points with one game remaining.