Monday, September 7, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Armada - 02.22

- Opponent: Jacksonville Armada
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 9.078
- Final Score: 3-0 W
- Starting XI: Cardona, Franco, Miller, Norales, Hyland, Keller, Ring, Smart, Pineda, Richards, Steinberger
- Substitutions: Stojkov 74' (Pineda), Ceballos 78' (Richards), Mares 88' (Keller)
- Unused: Brown, Janicki, Wojcik, Nicht
- Goals: Steinberger 9', 73' (both assisted by Smart), Ceballos 90'+
- Bookings: Keller 38' (Yellow), Ceballos 90'+ (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

Sometimes I think that these types of games are as hard to write about as the losses. This full team effort and win was by the same team that had back-to-back losses by a combined 8-1 score. The ability is there, the fight is there, but the results haven't been there and this type of game only reiterates the point I've been making all season about every point matters and finishing the opportunities that are created. Going into half-time, my brother and I remarked that the team looked good and that the score could have been higher for the Eleven. I pointed out to him that was the concerning thing about this team and a 1-0 score for the Eleven has so often found its way to a 1-1 tie or a 2-1 loss and that I hoped the missed chances didn't come back to hurt them. Fortunately, despite an amazing 64-36% deficit in possession in the first half, the Eleven held the lead and played the same way in the second half.

Some of it is the opponents, but the 4-2-2-2 tactic the team has played the past couple games seems to be an effective one for them. This is the kind of game where I don't know who to highlight. I can't think of a single player who I thought had a bad game.

  • Ring and Keller played the defensive midfielder role to perfection. They covered for the backline, while also getting the ball out to Pineda, Smart, Stojkov, et. al. Ring's blast in the 66th minute that went off the crossbar was great.
  • If you don't appreciate the effort from Hyland, I don't want to talk to you. 
  • I meant to keep track during my rewatch and forgot until midway through it, but Brad Hauter confirmed it for me in the 79th minute anyway.  Cory Miller didn't lose a header all night. Combined with his height, he times his jumps perfectly to rarely give the opposition a chance at those 50/50 balls. Oh, and all that while having what looked like his shoulder come out of its socket only to have him come back in and immediately hustle back in and defend.
  • Pineda set up the first goal by doing a 360 on his defender and picking out Smart and had a couple more good runs and attempts.
  • You wouldn't know it from his diminutive height, but Dane Richards is a beast. His hold-up play combined with his speed make him a perfect target man up top. I've been amazed at how many times he manages to use his body to get himself in a better position than the defender who is guarding him and the catapults off the defender and uses his speed to track down the ball. He's looking for shots, which is something that seemingly all fans have been yelling about for some time now. He had a shot in stoppage time of the first half from 45-yards out because he thought he could chip Sierra who was unafraid all night to be off his line. I would have liked Richards to go with the pass in that case since he had an open Steinberger making a run and Pineda across the field as well, but given how often I've harped on taking half-chances and the 1-0 lead at the time, I'm okay with it. 
  • I was surprised by the start by Cardona, but he's making a case for Nicht to ride the bench for a bit. He was never seriously pressed, but he made the saves that he needed to make, one of them of the spectacular variety where he laid out and parried a ball out of bounds with his left hand in the 52nd minute (captured spectacularly by Matt Schlotzhauer).

  • Steinberger could have easily had a hat trick, but now I'm just nit-picking. 
  • Ceballos may be small, but that was quite the rocket into the upper ninety for his goal. Given that the Eleven have already had a yellow card this season for a shirtless goal celebration, I would like to have seen him celebrate differently, but again, I'm nit-picking.

The only part of this game that the Eleven didn't win was the possession, but the better team won this game. They had a plan of attack against Jacksonville's 4-3-3 and executed it exactly like I assume they had practiced it. As I left the stadium, Peter Wilt was thanking people for coming and he said, "that was much better tonight, right? Why can't they all be like that?" I don't know Peter, but this team has shown glimpses of this type of game and it was great to see them perfectly put their game plan into action for a full 90 minutes.

Winning's fun...


Congratulations Zach on being selected as this week's Player of the Week!

Congratulations Zach on being selected to the Team of the Week!

Congratulations Marvin on the Play of the Week Nominee!


Don said...

It was fun to watch. Hopefully the winning will continue.

While he wasn't in long, it was great to see Mares but on the field.

Jeff C. said...

This game was so much fun. I had thought that a lineup with two defensive midfielders and no traditional striker would struggle to create chances. Boy, was I wrong.

It's hard to vote against Steinberger as man of the match, given his brace, but my choice is actually Don Smart. Not only did he have assists on Steinberger's two goals, the former super-sub played the full game, running tirelessly and making important contributions on both offense and defense. It may have been his most impressive overall performance for Indy.

Drew said...

It's hard to argue against Smart too. I would agree that it was probably his best performance. It was good to see so many guys playing so well all at the same time.