Monday, May 12, 2014

Indy Eleven vs Eddies - 01.05

- Opponent: FC Edmonton
- Location: Carroll Stadium, Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,285
- Final Score: 2-1 (loss)
- Starting XI: Nicht (Captain), Frias, Norales, Hyland, Ring, Kleberson, Corrado, Ramirez, Mares, Mendes, Ambersley
- Substitutions: Spencer (Mendes), Smart (Ramirez), Moore (Mares)
- Goals: Own Goal (29')
- Bookings: Ring (12'), Ambersley (61'), Hyland (81’), Norales (84')

There are a few things that stick out to me for this game, not counting the obvious loss result, which now firmly places the Eleven in last place in their inaugural spring season. The first is the physical nature of this game in comparison to the other games I’ve seen so far from the Eleven. Often times a couple of early yellow cards from the ref will temper some of the physicality, but despite a yellow card to the Eddies in the 10th minute and one to Ring in the 12th minute, the game went from physical to rough in the second half, where an additional six yellow cards were doled out between the two teams. One of those could have possibly been a red card. Despite all attempts for the ref to reduce the physical nature, it had absolutely no affect. From my viewpoint in the stands, I think it was largely because the ref wasn’t always consistent in the calls.

The Eddies looked to be a bigger, taller team and they used that to their advantage to win many of the 50/50 balls. I will continue to attribute part of that to the Eleven’s continued reluctance to go to the ball. Players continue to wait for the ball to get to them while the other team is going to the ball. That has to change. The Eleven continues to fight until the end of the game, but even when they are fighting to close the gap (they continue to fight from behind by giving up early goals), they still wait for the ball to get to them. While they are waiting, the other team takes the ball away before it gets to them.

There were too many giveaways. I lost count of how many times the team sent wishful balls towards the front line. I know that at one point, Frias had the ball and I sarcastically said out loud, “just kick it long” and he did what he had done all game and just booted it towards the forwards. I heard laughs around me so I’m guessing some people agreed with my sarcasm. The Eleven has talent in the midfield and the ball was going right around, or more specifically over, them. It would appear that after giving up a few goals on counter attacks this season, Coach Sommer appears to have decided to play Kleberson in a holding midfield position. I think if you have a guy with his playmaking ability, he can’t spend the majority of his time sitting immediately in front of the backline and you can’t continue to kick the ball over him. If playing backline to frontline is the desired plan of attack, then you have to play your 6’-4” U20 National Team player Ben Spencer in there to help collect those headballs.

It looked like Norales was going to add to his goal total towards the end of the game, but the late chance looked like a defender out of his element trying to score instead of a guy that has put the goal in the back of the net this season. Norales found himself in that position where you get caught between trying for a header and using your feet. He chose the wrong body part and a game tying chance went astray.

My last comment is related to the team’s communication. This is game number five in the season and they still seem to have those moments when they seem like they haven’t ever played together. The two moments that come to mind were both in the second half. At one point, Ambersley and Spencer were near each other, with Spencer playing the ball. It looked like they were going to switch the ball as Ambersley ran past Spencer, but instead they ran right into each other, like they were doing some kind of dance. Maybe it’s because Spencer spent time away with the U20s, but these are two guys who I would expect to communicate better than that.

The other was in the last minute of the game. A foul was called deep on the Eleven’s end and Nicht sat the ball down to blast it to the other end of the field. Frias proceeded to quick kick it to the opposite side of the field, which the ref proceeded to call back and force the Eleven to rekick at a point in the game when time was running out. In addition to wasting time, it was obvious that Frias’ decision to quick kick was not what Nicht had in mind as he turned up his hands in a non-verbal, “what the hell are you doing?” kind of way.

I suppose my takeaway from this game is that despite the team still not having a win, the fight is still there with the team. I hope the communication gets better with time and that Coach Sommer figures out the lineups that work best. You can’t fix stupid and you can’t coach heart. At least the team seems to have that going for it.

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