Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Indy Eleven vs RailHawks - 02.04

- Opponent: Carolina RailHawks
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 10,524
- Final Score: 1-1 T
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Norales, Janicki, Frias, Ring, Smart, Mares, Melgares, Rugg, Wojcik
- Substitutions: Stojkov 66' (Smart), Pena 74' (Mares), Brown 84' (Melgares)
- Unused: Cardona, Dawson, Miller, Hyland
- Goals: Own Goal 6'
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: 1

As I left the stadium, I kept thinking that sometimes a tie is a win and sometimes a tie is a loss. With an early goal, a dominant performance, and a chance to end the day at the top of the table, a late equalizing goal by Carolina completely felt like a loss.  I was thinking I would start this recap by quoting the line from Rosie Perez's character in White Men Can't Jump about wins, ties, and losses, but then I remembered that I already did that.  Last season.  Against Fort Lauderdale.  Some things have definitely changed with this team, but some things have obviously stayed the same.

What I further realized in my post about that article is how similar it felt to this game against Carolina:
This quote from White Men Can't Jump kept running through my head today about the game:
"Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs."
What one needs to extract from Wednesday's Saturday's perpetuation of the league winless undefeated streak is that despite missing five guys with a combined 51 league starts for the Eleven (three of those with double digit starts) and playing the last thirty minutes of the game down a man, the Eleven looked to absolutely dominate the run of play. The official stats show a 51% 54% to 49% 46% possession ratio, but that seems way off base from my seat in the stands and may have only equalized a bit due to some possession from the Strikers RailHawks at the end of the game when they had their man advantage after the Johnson red card tried to get the equalizer. Missing so many key contributors to the team, the Eleven fielded a lineup that included a back four who had never played together in a game as a group as best I can remember.

I haven't seen the defense entire team play as cohesive as a unit as I witnessed last night.
Despite not putting the ball in the goal for the first time all season only once, they were really close the entire game and it was only because of some excellent goalkeeping that they didn't put a couple in during the first second half.
It took a slow exit from the stadium after the game to appreciate how well the team played and that maybe I need to rethink how I see the results of the game. "Sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose." It may not have been the result that we all hoped to see, but maybe it was the result we needed to see.

Unlike that game last August, I can't look past the fact that it feels like the team gave this game away with one of those defensive lapses that plagued this team through much of last season. Four games in and three ties, but this one felt like it could have easily been a 3-0 win. I expressed some concern about Indy's scoring in last week's recap and nothing has changed for me after the Carolina game.  It felt like the majority of the second half was played in the RailHawks' defensive end with the Eleven dominating the possession and making good decisions. Mares should have had a PK seconds into the 2nd half off a 20 yard shot from Don Smart that the goalkeeper Gilstrap bobbled.  Wojcik had a good header attempt in the 57th minute.  How they didn't manage to get a goal in the 77th minute when Rugg, Ring, and Stojkov all had a shot on goal within a 10 second span from inside Carolina's box with the goalkeeper out of position is completely beyond me.  While the goal this week is credited as an Own Goal against Carolina, it was good play between Wojcik and Rugg.  Mares was there if Scott hadn't put it into his own net so that's promising, but the team still needs to do more with the chances they are creating for themselves.  As we've seen over and over, there may just be one or two plays that separate a win from a tie or a tie from a loss.

Which brings us to this week's defensive breakdown.  Norales slowed down on the play allowing his man to save the ball from going out of bounds.  Ball goes backwards to an open player with Frias in a trailing position.  Cross comes in and Franco pinches in to cover the player making a run to the center of the box, makes a poor clearance with the ball dropping to his, now open, man.  Franco makes a run at the goal scorer Wagner, but in a manner that allowed Wagner to take a second touch and put the ball in a place that neither Franco nor Nicht nor Janicki can reach.

That's how a win becomes yet another "adage goal" tie.  I bet Doug Starnes (@GrassInTheSky1, Eleventh Heaven) never thought we (I) would get so much mileage out of that observation nor that it would seemingly continue into this season.

The positive to all this is that the team continues their undefeated streak and is still in the top portion of the table.  However, I can't decide if the bye week is a good thing or not.  On the one hand, it gives them an extra week to prepare for Jacksonville.  On the other hand, it also give them time to let the fire from being "a little pissed off" after the tie to die down.  I guess we'll see how the team responds in a couple weeks.


Congratulations Norales on being selected to this week's NASL Team of the Week!

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