Sunday, August 2, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Silverbacks - 02.15

- Opponent: Atlanta Silverbacks
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 9,632
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Janicki, Miller, Hyland, Ring, Stojkov, Pineda, Steinberger, Brown, Richards
- Substitutions: Wojcik 60' (Brown), Rugg 65' (Steinberger), Smart 77' (Stojkov)
- Unused: Cardona, McKinney, Frias, Keller
- Goals: None
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: None

I don't like writing about Eleven losses. Especially when those losses occur at home preceding a mid-week trip to Edmonton and a week before Fall and Combined Standings' leaders Ottawa make the trip to The Mike, just 20 days after completely dismantling the Eleven in one of the teams' worst showings all season. There were some good things from this game. The Eleven lead in nearly every category except for the final score, which, unfortunately, is really the only one that matters. I thought Ring and Hyland had solid games and the basically untested iteration of center backs Janicki and Miller played well.

However, the word that kept coming to mind during the game was "disappointing." The Pedro Mendes goal in the 15th minute was a result of two Silverbacks versus 6 Eleven defenders plus Nicht. That type of goal can't happen. While I think Steinberger will be a good addition, it was obvious that the chemistry that the team has been developing was not there in Mares' absence. The opportunities for shots were wasted at times by the old habit of taking one too many touches or passes. I want to like Charlie Rugg. His size and speed are great, but his first touch and effort continue to leave me disappointed.

My two biggest concerns that I wrote on my notes while at the stadium were "long ball" and "width." In hindsight, my concern of the long ball may have been a purposeful tactical adjustment to the Silverbacks' lineup of 3-5-2 to get some balls over the top of that defense. Given that lineup though, I would have liked to see the Eleven maintain their width to help counter that lineup. It felt like there were so many moments where the ball would go out wide to Pineda or Stojkov and their first motion was back into the middle of the field. When the opponent has that many bodies cluttering the midfield, going into the middle of the field just makes it easier for them. Staying wide and attacking up the sidelines can help counteract that tactic, but the team didn't play that way.

The good news is that the team doesn't have long to dwell on the loss due to the mid-week game at Edmonton. Hopefully a few more days of having Steinberger in practice will help with the chemistry, but given the amount of travel over the next week, that might be easier said than done. Luckily, there's still plenty of season left with a very compact table, but the Eleven need to get some points out of the upcoming Canadian games to get them back into a realistic discussion for the Playoffs. A win against Edmonton, who have back-to-back losses, would be a good start.



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