Thursday, June 11, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Strikers - 02.09

- Opponent: Fort Lauderdale Strikers
- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Attendance: 5,083
- Final Score: 2-1
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Norales, Miller, Hyland, Ring, Stojkov, Pineda, Mares, Brown, Rugg
- Substitutions: Wojcik 65' (Mares), Smart 66' (Stojkov), Lacroix 88' (Brown)
- Unused: Cardona, Frias, Janicki, Melgares
- Goals: Pineda 44' (assist Mares); Pineda 90'+
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: None

Not counting the hat trick by Blake Smith in the U.S. Open Cup game last season, by my count, the Indy Eleven have only had two previous players score a brace during a league game.  By scoring his extra time goal in the 94th minute, Pineda joins a group that includes just Mike Ambersley and Kleberson who have had multiple goal league games for the Eleven (Ambersley and Kleberson both got their braces against Atlanta).

For his effort, Pineda was awarded the NASL Player of the Week, following last week's award by Kyle Hyland.

His awards for the week also includes being nominated for the NASL Plays of the Week:

I voted for Pineda, because, well, I'm a homer, but this is a hard week to choose a winner.  Three of the five nominees are shots from roughly the exact same spot on the field.  The only difference might be when Pineda's occurred in the game.  I feel like the Scorpions' goalkeeper Sattler deserves some love for that save.

It's been said all season that sometimes you have to a steal a win or a tie during a season as points can be hard to obtain and the Eleven have become the heart attack kids this season.  The team has played nine games this season and the Eleven have game tying or game winning goals in the 89th minute or later four times and another two where they have given up goals in the 85th minute or later.  Two-thirds of the games this season have been decided in the final 5 minutes (or stoppage time).  If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that you never leave an Indy Eleven game before the ref blows the final whistle.

I noticed as I went through my notes for this game that I had something written every five minutes for the first 25 minutes or so of the first half.  It seemed like every 5 minutes, the Eleven had a good chance at the goal.  They might not have done much with all of those opportunities, but they had good build-up and were actually taking shots.  Seeing them actually shooting the ball was nice to see. I also had a note around the 20 minute mark, right before the Strikers scored, where Brown had his back to the goal and laid the ball off to Pineda who took a shot.  It reminded me a lot of the goal that Mares scored against Tampa Bay in that it was in a similar part of the field and Brown was playing the ball to another player with his back to goal.  It surprises me a little that its the smaller Brown making these hold-up plays instead of the bigger Rugg, but it's been effective.  Though I'm starting to wonder if Rugg's cleats are made of concrete because he's had some very heavy touches lately so maybe it's a good thing it's Brown with the lay-off touches.

The other parts of this game that stuck out to me was free kick in the 11th minute. Seemed like a very wasted opportunity from 18 1/2 yards out.  The Strikers had 7 or 8 guys directly in the wall and the other three between the ball and the goal. The Eleven only put two guys in the box with four guys behind the ball.  It's like they were playing for the rebound instead of any kind of real effort on the goal.  I don't know how the Nicht missed the ball on the Striker goal in the 22nd minute, but I really liked his kick save off the cheeky back heel shot in the 32nd minute off the corner kick. At the end of the game, both teams seemed to be playing for the tie, with the exception of late game substitute Duke Lacroix.  His effort and pace is what created the chance for Pineda's late goal and I'm curious to see if he starts to get some additional minutes in the near future.

It's always nice to get the first win since mid-April, especially after a week where Coach Sommer was fired and interim coach Tim Regan took the reigns for the first time, but I have to temper my enthusiasm.  The team "looked" better and achieved a better result, but the stats still all lean towards the Strikers. A team that we need to remember was/is sitting near the bottom of the table like the Eleven.  It's not like this was a win against the Cosmos.  So while I'm glad to see the team come away with three points, I'm still cautiously optimistic. That being said, a win this coming Saturday against Edmonton and a few key results (Jacksonville and San Antonio losses would be nice) and the Eleven finish the Spring Season in the Top 5.  A placement that seemed improbable with the string of results after the Carolina tie and with enough points compared to the teams ahead of them to put them in a reasonable position going into the Fall Season.

Pineda wasn't the only Eleven player receiving recognition for his play as Norales makes his third Team of the Week.  Congrats fellas!



Jeff C. said...

That's two straight games with last-recond goals.--not something we really want to rely on. But of course we'll take it. I thought the team looked somewhat better, although this might just have been viewing the game through rose-colored classes after the coaching change. but Lacroix definitely looked lively. It'll be interesting to see what he can do against fresher legs earlier in matches.

Drew said...

Agree about Lacroix. Not sure if Coach Regan is thinking of giving him a start yet, but I would like to see what he does if he came in at the 60-70 minute mark.

A win certainly makes it easier to overlook some of the bad parts of the game.