Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Indy Eleven - Inaugural match - 01.01

With a third of the Spring Season in the books, its probably time that I sit down and weigh in on the first three matches, two of which I was in attendance since they were home games at the newly painted and upgraded Michael Carroll Stadium (not sure why it has been taken to be called The Mike since I've only known it as Carroll Stadium, but #TheMike seems to be how it is being referenced in the team's twitter feeds).  I do hope to do a much more timely evaluation of the games in the future.

- Opponent: Carolina Railhawks
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 11,048
- Final Score: 1-1
- Starting XI: Nicht (Captain), Frias, Norales, Estridge, Hyland, Ring, Kleberson, Corrado, Moore, Ramirez, Ambersley
- Substitutions: Mares (Moore), Smart (Corrado), Mendes (Ambersley)
- Goals: Ambersley (43')
- Bookings: No XI cards

In the highly compressed Spring Season of the NASL, at only 9 games, every point counts, but the team can't afford too many ties.  Despite that, and despite the fact that every player goes into a game wanting to win it, a tie in the inaugural match against a very good Carolina team is one that the team has to be happy about achieving.  A lot of press, a lot of intensity, and a lot of build-up for the first game in the first season in the league.  Just keeping the emotions in check might have been considered a good start.  So a 1-1 tie is acceptable.

There are really good sites forming on the interwebs concerning this team (here and here) with very detailed analysis of the games, and for now, I'm going to suggest you go there for the intricacies of the team's play.  I'm going to give some of that, but my focus will be less involved and will mostly be general recaps and impressions of the fledgling team.

To wit, this is a fledgling team.  I think two players were added to the roster the day before the game.  Obviously, there needs to be a familiarity with players before passes and runs look smooth.  This team isn't there yet.  You could see it with some of the passes that were made because they assumed one run was going to be made and another was actually done.  That only comes with time and a confidence in what your teammates are doing.  The upside is that I see talent, a team that doesn't quit fighting, and a team that despite some deficiencies in familiarity with each other still finished the game with a positive results.  That's promising.

That's my short, one paragraph, recap of a game that happened three weeks ago.  Now, I'll recap the off-field portion of the evening.  The team caught a lot of grief from a lot of people for trying to get the ball rolling on a new stadium before they had even played a single game.  Before the roster was even completed...  While I wish they had waited a little longer to begin the conversation, it was obvious from my visit to the facility last year to scope out season ticket locations that this was not a facility for a professional team.  The field, other than it being Field Turf which I hate for soccer, looks to be in great shape after its recent renovation in 2011.   The inaugural game just solidified it in my mind that the conversation needs to continue toward building a soccer specific stadium.  The team made good strides in getting the stadium in better shape, especially the appearance of the suites on the north side of the field, but it is not set up for a professional soccer team and it was reflected in the inaugural match.

I would like to tell you about the first ever goal scored by the Indy Eleven in their inaugural match, but I didn't see it.  I took my 6 year old daughter to the game with me and, as kids are prone to do, needed/wanted to get some food.  I convinced her to wait until about the 15 minute mark in the game and we headed out.  More than 30 minutes later and we finally had food and headed back to our seats.  While we waited in a line of only about 20 people, we heard announcements of the concession stand running out of veggie burgers (fine by me) and popcorn containers and water right as we were exiting the concession stand.  That can't happen.  Not even running a concession stand out of a cargo container, which is what the concession stands are at the stadium.  My kid's concession stand for her youth league is set up in a cargo trailer, running with only volunteer help, and it runs more smoothly than what we saw on opening night.

There were some other issues, which I won't go into, but there were enough that I felt inclined to send an email providing feedback to the team.  They asked for it, but it's not something that I would normally do.  To their credit, the team realized that they had issues with some of the logistics of running a game in a stadium that isn't set up for it and took steps within two days to make the second game run better.  To me, that speaks volumes about what the team wants to accomplish both from an on-field and off-field product. 

Despite the glitches of my first experience with the team, I left feeling very entertained and couldn't wait until the next weekend, when the team took on the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  My impressions of that game to come soon...

UPDATE: For the team's effort, three players were placed on the league's Team of the Week: Ambersley, Corrado, and Norales.  Well done boys!

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