Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Indy Eleven 2015 Spring Season - What If? Edition

With the break between the Spring and Fall NASL Seasons, and in between watching the Women's World Cup, I was thinking about how the Indy Eleven finished the Spring Season.  A draw and two wins in their final three games moved the Eleven from the bottom of the standings into fifth place by themselves.  With New York solidifying their place in the Championship, it's a very crowded table after that, especially with a 20 game Fall Season, for the final three spots in the Championship.  Only time will tell on whether the Eleven's good run of play and momentum will carry over into the Fall Season.  Their climb up the standings at the end of the season got me to thinking.

As a reminder, here's how the Spring Season concluded:
If you notice, there are six of the eleven teams with 3 wins and it was their draws, losses, and goal differential that determined where they all finished.  Which got me thinking, what if?

What if the Eleven didn't give up the late goal in the game against Carolina, which was the first peg in a 0W-3L-2T run in the middle of the season before finally getting another win against Fort Lauderdale.

Switching that one game from a tie to a win gained the team two more points and pushed them to third place all by themselves.  In essence, a swap of positions for Indy and Carolina.  Just one different game result and this is a completely different conversation with this team, even with a 1W-3L-1T record during that same period.

What if?

What if all of those late game goals from the Eleven or their opponents weren't conceded? What if Smart doesn't score the 90'+ PK against Atlanta?  What if Pena doesn't score from midfield in the 89th minute?  What if they didn't let Carolina score in the 85th minute?  What about the 88th minute goal conceded against Ottawa?  Or Hyland's 98th minute goal against Tampa Bay to salvage a tie? Or Pineda's 90'+ minute game winner against the Strikers?

Eighth place.  A swing of five places for the Eleven just by finishing games differently and Tampa Bay is celebrating winning the Spring Season and not the New York Cosmos. Obviously, that's just assuming the results for the Eleven and not any other team's similar difficulties, but it highlights a very important point.  Every game result, every minute of the game, every possession actually counts. We start to think that there are only a few key moments during games, but those key moments are created by working hard during every possession, whether that's on offense or defense.

Not directly shown on the hypothetical results, but I'm including in this What If? evaluation is the Ottawa Fury.  In a league like the NASL where Ottawa can go nearly 6 games without conceding a goal (a streak of 526 minutes and counting) and still finish the Spring Season in 9th place, it highlights that you have to win some games too.  Every game counts, but you can't win a Championship just be going "undefeated" by getting ties.  You have to win as well.  Sometimes that means you steal a tie on the road or win at home, but every point that you can get from the games gets you closer to playing for a Championship.

Every positive result matters when you're trying to win a Championship.

No "ands," "buts," or "what ifs?" about it.

1 comment:

Don said...

Interesting game of what if.