During penalty kicks, with them down 2-1, Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch unexpectedly stepped up to the spot for their third attempt. He would send his shot high. Already ahead in the count, the Cosmos would sink their next two and win it.
But, why even have him take it? While not unheard of, it’s a rarity to see a goalkeeper make the attempt, especially when already feeling the pressure of being behind in the count.“I’m sure you’re asking questions on Jon Busch,” commented Indy Head Coach Tim Hankinson in postgame. “The fact is Busch, in practice, is one of the most confident in being able to take it. Also, it’s the opportunity that if he makes it against the opposing keeper, how that affects the opposing keeper’s mentality the rest of the way. So unfortunately we didn’t get to the end, but all of the guys who took them are guys who, day in and day out, are worthy of that opportunity.”
The other reasons? Fatigue and injury. Something that could fairly be expected at the end of 120 minutes of title game soccer.
“You also look at the end of long, fatigued game like that where you have some guys with injury issues,” continued Hankinson. “Who’s confident? Who really wants to take it?”
The crazy thing? It did catch Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer slightly off guard, despite all the preparations the team had made in anticipation of a shootout.
“I’m not gonna lie. I was surprised,” admitted the Cosmos netminder. “Surprised to see him step up that early. I’ve seen goalies take them, but I think he went third. But, I was surprised. We’d done our scouting, done our homework on Indy top to bottom for PKs and never seen one from him so that was the only one that was really a blank slate.”
Despite being unprepared for the scenario, Maurer still was up for the challenge based on other observations.
“But, a lot of goalies smash it when they come up so I just tried to hold til the end and I committed my corner and luckily he just hit it wide.”
Busch sent the ball into the Belson Stadium parking lot. Already ahead, the Cosmos never looked back.However, it’d be unfair to define Busch’s performance this season by that one moment. Busch held opponents to two goals per game or less in all but two matches, allowing only 27 goals in 29 matches and posting 11 shutouts. Alongside team captain, Colin Falvey, the two have been instrumental in taking Indy from consecutive ninth place finishes to a spot in the NASL Final.
“Leadership is a big part of success and Colin, like I said, is the best captain I’ve had at any level, Major League or otherwise, and Jon Busch is one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around,” said Hankinson. “So you put the weight of the moment on their backs and normally it works out. Didn’t quite happen tonight, but I’d do it again tomorrow.”