BUDDLE GOAL SAVES INGOLSTADT
Ingolstadt managed to salvage one point at home against visiting FSV Frankfurt on Sunday, with American forward Edson Buddle heading home a perfect cross from Brazilian teammate Caiuby within seconds of entering the game as a second-half sub.
With no wins in the book for either team through their first three games, the pressure was on both to produce a result or risk falling too far into an early-season slump.
The arrival of Tunisian international center forward Ahmed Akaichi relegated both Buddle and usual strike partner Moritz Hartmann to the bench as head coach Benno Möhlmann experimented with the currently in-fashion 4-2-3-1 formation in a push to help the team muster the guile for a first win of the new season.
Both teams probed early, with Ingolstadt defender Marino Biliskov heading a second-minute free kick just over the bar, and dangerous cross from Frankfurt's Babacar Gueye moments later across the face of goal rolling just too far ahead of the outstretched foot of Zafer Yelen.
Ingolstadt was close to taking the lead in the 13th minute, Leonhard Haas pulled down a long ball from the backfield, deftly flipped it with one touch into the area directly into Akaichi's path, however there was just enough space between the attacker and the ball to give Frankfurt keeper Patric Klandt the chance to safely pull it from harm's way.
One minute later, Schanzer central midfielder Jose Alex Ikeng almost produced a surprise for the hosts when his 25-yard shot from straight out sailed barely right of the target.
Brazilian winger Caiuby did the Ingolstadt defense a favor two minutes before the half-hour; Gueye broke in behind the defense and appeared to be streaking for a lethal one-on-one with keeper Sascha Kirchstein, however the attacking maestro tracked back with blazing speed and cleared the ball from the foot of the Senegalese international, momentarily keeping the game scoreless.
Frankfurt had managed to shift the momentum, and were inches away from the lead when Kirchstein barely pushed a blazing 18-yarder from Marcel Gaus over the bar in the 32nd minute, setting up a corner for the visitors.
On the ensuing corner, Gueye beat his marking defender to send a header towards goal. Whiel Kirchstein did well to block it before crossing the line, the ball dropped on the right side of the six-yard box, where Samil Cinaz was waiting to smack it over the line for 1-0.
The hosts simply lacked the sharpness and creativity needed to create or finish any serious advances, and their only threat before the break came thanks to the foot of captain Stefan Leitl, whose fine ball into the area in the 45th minute was headed just over the crossbar by Ikeng.
Faced with the prospect of an embarrassing home loss, Möhlmann pulled defensive midfielder Manuel Hartmann at the half in favor of the more attack-minded Andreas Buchner, although any immediate effects were hardly noticeable.
The visitors had the first chance of the second half in the 53rd minute, when Gueye surged past Biliskov on a dead sprint and tried to slide a diagonal pass to the left side of the area which was just a half-yard ahead of Yelen.
Two minutes later on an Ingolstadt counter, Caiuby found Akaichi on the left side, who broke inwards and aimed a shot at the far post that flew wide of the mark.
Moments afterwards, the hosts dodged a bullet when Gueye broke free on goal on the left side behind the defense, but was knocked over by his beaten defender in what looked to be a clear red card, but referee Martin Petersen was merciful and opted to not even whistle for a foul, much to the disdain of the entire Frankfurt bench and gaggle traveling fans in the stands.
As the game reached the 70-minute mark with the Ingolstadt players constantly committing needless turnovers and looking increasingly apathetic in their attempts to equalize, the home fans had lost patience with their under-performing team, and a chorus of disapproving whistles began to sound with every mistake.
Fortunately for the paying audience, Möhlmann was also frustrated with his players and put both Buddle and Moritz Hartmann into the game in the subsequent minutes, giving the team a three-man front for the final quarter-hour, with the American flanked by Hartmann to the left and halftime substitute Buchner on the right.
This move almost immediately had a game-turning effect, as Caiuby received the ball near the left edge of the field, took one touch to settle it and hit a high to the center of the six-yard box to Buddle, which he stretched high to meet with his head and send into the left side of goal for the 75th-minute equalizer.
"It was sudden, only my second contact," he recalls of the goal. "It was a great pass from Caiuby, who got the ball out wide, was able to find my head, and I was able to direct it to goal."
Buddle struck again three minutes afterwards, this time taking the ball at his feet and hitting a shot that flew left of the keeper for the apparent go-ahead goal, however the lineman raised hid flag for offside in a decision which replays showed was questionable, at best.
"The linesman had a better angle than I did, but I thought it was a great ball," Buddle evaluated of the call. "I saw the defender try to time my run, but I'll have to look at the tape before I can say for sure."
Ingolstadt remained on the charge, and were close again in the 81st minute when Buchner forced Klandt into a lunging save, then again with four minutes left when Haas wasted a clear line on goal by hitting his shot from the top edge of the penalty area directly at the keeper.
Frankfurt then wasted their own chance to take the three points one minute later when late substitute Macauley Chrisantus received the ball in an open position in front of goal, but had trouble controlling it, giving Kirchstein just enough time to get into position to save the resulting ten-yard shot.
Both teams ran out of gas by the time the game reached stoppage time, with each only able to manage solitary shots from distance that were of little threat, with Petersen's whistle finally confirming the draw after the 94th minute of play.
"I'm happy," Buddle reacted the overall result immediately after. "We have to take what we can from each game. We got a point. Being at home you want to win, but you have to look at the positive that we fought back, especially with the warm conditions and being down a goal."
The game saw Möhlmann experimenting with several different formations for the team, and Buddle sees this as a product of the coach still trying to figure out what will best utilize their strengths.
"We're still trying to find the right formula to get three points, which isn't easy," he admits. "You don't know how good you are until the season starts, so you just have to find the right lineup."
The game came less than a week after Buddle's first start with the national team in more than a year, and rather than feel worn from the 60 minutes of play under new coach Jürgen Klinsmann, he felt like the trip overseas and the honor of again representing his country gave an added fire to his game.
"Marquez is a good defender," he chuckles about his almost immediate victimization of the Frankfurt defense after having been shut down by Mexico five days before, "but it helped to push me a little bit, since after playing for your country, you always play a little bit harder [for your club] for some reason."
"I think being here and coming back, you always want to leave a good impression, especially coming off the bench, to show the coach that you want to start and play every game."
"I wanted to score when I was with the national team but didn't in that game, so leaving the US and coming back here I wanted to score here to show that I want to be a part of the national team," he concludes. "Hopefully I'm making the right steps for both teams."
With the point in the bag, Ingolstadt remain near the league's cellar in 17th place, tied with similarly-winless Duisburg on two points, but trailing by goal differential.
The bottom half of the 2. Bundesliga standings does remain tight with just four points separating the lower nine teams, putting the Schanzer in a position to make a substantial jump should they come out victorious next Friday when they head one hour north to visit Fürth.