Monday, May 11, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Armada FC - 02.05

- Opponent: Jacksonville Armada FC
- Location: Jacksonville, Florida
- Attendance: 8,318
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Cardona, Franco, Norales, Janicki, Frias, Pena, Ring, Melgares, Pineda, Brown, Wojcik
- Substitutions: Mares 45' (Melgares), Rugg 59' (Wojcik), Smart 67' (Pineda)
- Unused: Dawson, Miller, Hyland, Stojkov
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Pena 25' (Yellow), Janicki 74' (Yellow), Franco 82'
- Adage goals: 1 - 50th minute

With the ESPN3 feed and its replay ability, this season I normally like to watch the game twice before I sit down and do a recap of the game.  The first time through it's just as a fan cheering on the Eleven. The second time through is more for specific tactics and the good/bad that I remember seeing from the first viewing. I've also been big this year on the "eyeball test" and my "eyeball" asked if I really had to watch this game again. The things that stuck out for me from my first viewing were things that I didn't want to relive.  Things like:

  • The nearly adage goal 10 seconds into the second half
  • The adage goal four minutes into the second half
  • The 2 v 1 in the 62nd minute that was so poorly played that there wasn't even a shot, much less a shot on goal
  • Pineda playing the man and not the ball that could have resulted in a goal after an Armada defensive mistake a few feet from the goal line
  • The 18 minutes where the team had a man advantage and continued to play in a defensive shell
  • The 18 minutes where the team had a man advantage and continued to play in a defensive shell!
Last year, this team was known for its defensive breakdowns that routinely turned wins into ties and ties into loses and it become a point of emphasis for the fall season.  Things seemed to get fixed at the end of the season and the Eleven managed a 397 minute shut-out streak (thanks to Edmonton's first half goal today against the Cosmos, that record remains with the Eleven/Nicht and not the Cosmos/Mauer who had a good run going this season).  Much of the off season seemed devoted to maintaining that defensive consistency and strengthening it.  So the team signed a solid, Championship winning, defender in Janicki and kept the rest of the defensive pieces.  Most of the time, Janicki is a solid defender, but those same defensive lapses that sent defenders like Okiomah, Stone, and Estridge onto other pastures seem to be plaguing him as well.  If he takes one more step and lets the ball hit him in the middle of the stomach instead of "ole-ing" in an attempt to clear it, Jacksonville's goal by Hoyos doesn't happen.  I didn't remember it during the first-time viewing, but during his late game attempt on goal, he misplayed a ball to his chest, giving him an impossible left footed attempt on goal.  If he chests that ball properly, it's likely a game-tying goal.  Personally, I like a lot that Janicki brings, but it might be time to give Miller another shot.

I'll admit that Frias has fixed a lot of the defensive issues that I gave him grief for during most of last season.  I think he still loses his man too often, but his recovery has been much better.  However, my eyeball test says that Frias has the majority of the long ball boots on this team.  I don't mind the periodic long ball to keep the other team's back line honest or a well-timed change of field if the right back has pinched in too much and Frias definitely has the leg for it, but it feels like that's Frias' first option.  That has to stop. I can't recall too many of them succeeding in doing anything but losing possession.  Wojcik managed a shot on goal on one of them, but that's been a rarity.

I understand a lineup change to try and counteract Jacksonville's 4-3-3 lineup, which is also one of the more prolific scoring teams in the league, but when you are playing 11 v 10, you have to revise your tactics.  Especially when the player out is one of their scorers, in essence, changing their lineup to a 4-3-2.  Part of that non-tactical change is on the coaches, but these are also professionals who should be able to understand the change themselves.  I've been watching a lot of the NHL playoffs and the man advantage felt like a power player where a team doesn't get a shot.  In an 18-minute power play, the team should get more shots than the two I think they were able to muster.  The New York Red Bulls played a good portion of their game today a man down and they scored two goals and the Indy Eleven played a man up and managed two shots.  Not good.

For anybody thinking of starting a Kleberson Watch, he hasn't played in the last 8 games dating back to last season and hasn't started in the last 11 games.  That hasn't stopped the team from marketing the Cosmos game as Kleberson v Raul in that timeframe, but he continues to sit.  Oh, and another reminder, he scored 8 goals last year, but 5 of those were from the PK spot and I don't have him credited with a single assist.  So I don't think he's going to be the magic bullet that finally pulls together the offense, especially if the ball keeps flying over his head from the defense to the forwards.

I do think Cardona played a decent game for his first start.  He might have been out of position and might have been a little quick to get the ball back into play a couple times, but I think he had a good start.  I don't think the goal was really his fault, but I was really concerned he was going to get chipped by Keita in the 59th minute because it seemed like he was indecisive on what to do.

For the record, I didn't watch this game a second time.  I hope the team does though so that they can see what sitting in a defensive shell does for them.  I think it was during the Toronto/Houston game today that Taylor Twellman commented that he isn't sure why Toronto didn't start the game with the same intensity as they had at the end when they were trying to equalize.  I've often wondered the same thing about the Eleven.  If they played with the same intensity in the beginning against Jacksonville that they showed in the final 10 minutes of the game, this might have turned out differently.


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