Sunday, August 23, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Silverbacks - 02.19

- Opponent: Atlanta Silverbacks
- Location: Atlanta
- Attendance: 4,021
- Final Score: 1-1 T
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Norales, Miller, Hyland, Keller, Stojkov, Lacroix, Steinberger, Wojcik, Richards
- Substitutions: Janicki 55' (Wojcik), Rugg 68' (Richards), Smart 85' (Stojkov)
- Unused: Cardona, Frias, Ceballos, Pineda
- Goals: Richards 6' (PK)
- Bookings: Franco 45' (Yellow), Norales 50' (Red), Smart 90' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

With nearly the exact same lineup as in Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay (Wojcik in place of Rugg), the Eleven decided to hunker down defensively and seemed to play "not to lose" after getting the early penalty kick goal by Richards. Add in a red card to Norales in the 50th minute and it's no surprise that the official stats show a whopping 35% possession for the Eleven. I'm not an expert in tactics, but how often does the hunker down mode work when you start doing it in the first half. I understand it when you go down a man...

I'm about to digress...

My kid plays rec soccer and the refs are inconsistent and make some horrible calls from time to time. They are also teenagers trying to make a few bucks to pay for spending money. The refs in this league are professionals, but are inconsistent and make some horrible calls frequently. Which leads me to that red card to Norales. I hope that the Eleven issued a request for that red to be rescinded the second that game ended because it was clear in the replay that Norales put his hands on Chavez, but Chavez took a dive to get that call unless Norales has unnatural strength. It won't be and the Eleven will be playing a Miller/Janicki combination against Jacksonville, but it was the wrong call.

Now where was I... Oh yeah, hunker mode. I was so happy to see the team continue to push forward even after going up by two goals on Wednesday only to be disappointed to see them not do the same thing against Atlanta. I don't like hunker mode. It just gives the other team too many touches and opportunities to get back into the game and that gets exacerbated when you lose a player like the Eleven did with the red card. For me, the loss of Norales meant that it was just a matter of time before this game was going to get tied. A lot of people say that a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous, but I've always disagreed. The most dangerous lead is a 1-0 because it's such a precariously fine line between a win and a tie. For a team like the Eleven who needs as many points as possible coming down the home stretch, I would have preferred to see them take a few more chances offensively than sit back and counter.

When the Eleven caught a break by Mensing receiving his second yellow (and I agree with that card no matter what Mensing might say about his intent) shortly after giving up the own goal, the Eleven finally came out of hunker mode and created some chances. I still wish that they would take the half-chances and work for a rebound or deflection, but it just may not be in this team's DNA to consistently shoot and shoot quickly. Yes, I'm looking at you Rugg. I tried to compliment your effort on Wednesday and in 22 minutes against Atlanta, you didn't show it.

Every point matters and the Eleven head back to Indy with points in their pocket, but I think that when they look at this game on tape, they'll see that they left some points in Atlanta by sitting back too much.

Congratulations to Erick Norales for his Play of the Week nominee! Vote here!

Congratulations to Dane Richards and Daniel Keller for their Team of the Week selections!

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