Thursday, April 16, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Cosmos - 02.02

- Opponent: New York Cosmos
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 10,524
- Final Score: 1-1 T
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Norales, Janicki, Frias, Pena, Stojkov, Mares, Melgares, Rugg, Brown
- Substitutions: Hyland 70' (Frias injury), Ring 76' (Pena injury), Smart 82' (Brown)
- Unused: Kleberson, Dawson, Miller, Wojcik
- Goals: Brown 12'
- Bookings: Stojkov 48' (Yellow), Melgares 56' (Yellow)

Sunday was typical house/wife/three kids' stuff, Monday was normal work day duties, Monday night into Tuesday morning was sump pump trying to fill my basement with water, and Tuesday was a "I'm not as young as I used to be and can't stay up all night like when I was younger" exhaustion.  As a result, I'm just now getting to my Indy Eleven versus New York Cosmos recap.  So I'm feeling kinda Side 1, Track 1 today (careful with that link, some language) so this might be a little basic.  Not that you're starved for recaps of this game anyway.  By my count, there have already been at least six different game summaries for this game (hereherehereherehere, and here).  All of that doesn't include the 11 thoughts provided by Brad Hauter on Twitter on Sunday.  I'll give you some of my thoughts anyway.

I said last week that sometimes during the course of a season, a team has to steal a point, especially on the road, to stay in the race.  This week, both my live "eye test" and rewatch makes me think that sometimes during the course of a season, a team has to steal a point, even at home, to stay in the race. We all might like to feel that the Eleven let this game get away from them after having an early lead thanks to a spectacular shot by Brian Brown on a very poor decision by last year's Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Maurer, but this game never felt like it was the Eleven's to win.  The official Match Center stats after the game show a 2 to 1 possession for the Cosmos.  The website currently shows that stat as 60 to 40, but that's only moderately better.  It's hard to score when you don't have the ball.

Frias.  There seems to be a lot of love for Frias this season, and I'm willing to admit that his defensive effort is better this season that last.  Better, but I'm not willing to say great because I can remember at least a few times where I thought he was out of position.  Better because he is making better recovery decisions.  Better because I don't find myself constantly frustrated with him.  Though Frias' transition from defense to offense still leaves something to be desired for me.  Frias loves the long ball outlet pass.

Though he's not the only one.  One game of bypassing the midfield could be said to be exploiting a suspected weakness of the opponent.  Back-to-back games using the trend of minimal possession and starting your offense with long balls from the defensive line 40 yards to the forwards?  That's bordering on being your identity.  Given that was what we saw for much of last season, I'm not optimistic that a possession style of play is what we are going to see out of this team.

Mares looks good this season so far and, right now, he may be the most notable exception to my possession comment.

This game was billed as 8 > 7.  Kleberson vs Raul.  World Cup winner and Real Madrid star.  Kleberson didn't play and Raul scores the Cosmos' game tying goal with a header in the 65th minute. At least for this game, 7 > 8. I tried to figure out, live and with the replay, on how a goal scorer like Raul can get open enough at the six yard line to get a header on goal.  What I saw was that he might have given Franco a little push in the back to give himself some space and then it becomes an easy header for a guy of his caliber.  The other thing that stood out was the same kind of thing that we've all noticed about Kleberson. Those guys, even at their age, have a vision of the field that is beyond most of the rest of the players on the field.  Their only challenge at this point in their careers is getting their bodies to cooperate with their brains, as Kleberson didn't play (likely because of the injuries to Pena and Frias that changed the substitution plan) and Raul was more than ready to come off the field in the 74th minute.  The ball came to him with plenty of space and he simply booted it out the sideline so that he could get off the field.  That's what happens when you're nearly 38 years old.

Do I really need to talk about the ref?  Even in the replay, I have to say that the yellow cards to Stojkov and Margares were soft yellows.  Not good.

During the broadcast, they reiterated that the Cosmos outshot the Eleven in all three games last season.  This season provided no change in that pattern as the Cosmos had a nearly 2 to 1 advantage in shots.  Four games getting out shot and out possessed and the Eleven still haven't lost to them. Well played, Eleven.  Well played.

One advantage to a "better late than never recap" is that I can congratulate Brian Brown for being picked for this week's NASL Team of the Week without it being an update after I've already posted. Congrats Brian as that was one hell of a chip shot goal.


Jeff C. said...

Agree with your assessment of Frias. HIs effort seems better this year--there were times last year when his lackadaisical approach wound up contributing to opponents' goals. But his positioning still isn't great, and he's still far too fond of the longball from the defensive end.

The continued reliance on the longball is beginning to make me despair about the coaching. Through mid-september last year, I was increasingly convinced that Sommer was simply out of his depth. The season-closing streak, with its improved play in just about all facets of the game, gave me hope. But the team seems to have regressed this spring. I did think that perhaps there was a bit less hoof-and-hope against the Cosmos than there was the previous week against Atlanta.

Drew said...

I'm curious to see how Kleberson's introduction back into the lineup this year changes things. Last year, I felt that too many times the ball flew right over the playmaker that the team wants Kleberson to be as it went from the defensive line to the forwards.

I don't mind a well timed long ball, but it seems overused with this team. Even the goal against the Cosmos was the result of a long ball. Melgares sent a forty-yard ball beyond Rugg who was covered by two defenders and it was only because of the bad decision by Maurer that created the chance by Brown.

Maybe the feeling of less hoof-and-hope was because of the difference in the amount of possession?

James Cormack said...

Good honest assessment, I like it when people don't try to gloss over things. Agree on Frias he is improving all the time but sometimes coming back he is always chasing his player instead of being in front of them. Indy have to start playing possession, the long ball has to stop, it didn't get us anywhere last year and it likely won't this year, even in some of the games we won, it wasn't the long ball that won us the game. I don't think its our tactic, I think it's the panic mode we slip into all the time. Our players need to find themselves and cultivate a style, I think they will eventually. Spring is going to be a work in progress.