Monday, September 14, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Scorpions - 02.23

- Opponent: San Antonio Scorpions
- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Attendance: 7.232
- Final Score: 2-0 L
- Starting XI: Cardona, Franco, Miller, Norales, Frias, Keller, Ring, Smart, Pineda, Richards, Steinberger
- Substitutions: Ceballos 62' (Keller), Lacroix 74' (Frias), Wojcik 83' (Smart)
- Unused: Brown, Brown, Janicki, Stojkov, Nicht
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Richards 17' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

I've decided the Indy Eleven are a lot like my golf game. I can put my drive into the middle of the fairway, flub my second shot, have a nice chip to just off the green, chip to within 10-feet, and then two putt to find myself with a double bogey. Every so often I'll eliminate the flub and reduce it to a bogey, but just as regularly, I'll add a second mishit to give me a triple bogey. Against Fort Lauderdale, the Eleven flubbed every shot and posted a quadruple bogey, but turned it around the next game against Minnesota and got rid of the flubs and single putted. This week against the last place San Antonio, the lack of consistency reared its head again and the Eleven were unable to take advantage of the other match results that would have allowed them to move up the NASL combined table. Instead, the Eleven double bogeyed their way back down the table to tenth place.

Due to the other results this weekend, the Eleven find themselves exactly where they started before the Scorpion game, 5 points behind the fourth and final playoff spot. The difference is that they are now one game closer to the end of the season. It's still technically possible for the Eleven to make it into that fourth playoff, but their lack of consistency seems to be their defining characteristic and what is going to make a late season push much more difficult.

With that said, that's the team's results and not the actual play of the team in this one. From my perspective, the team deserved a better result than happened. While the penalty kick is going to be called every time, Cardona was unfortunate that the slight touch pushed it out of his reach. If he managed to get any part of that ball, I don't think it gets called. The second goal by Castillo was a result of Frias ball watching and losing his defensive responsibility. Other than those two major issues, there was quite a bit to like about the team's play. There was good possession, there were good shots on goal (Richards' shot that blasted back off of the post was an unlucky break), and the defense did a good job preventing the counter attacks from San Antonio.

The 5-4-1 lineup of San Antonio makes it hard enough under normal conditions to get through, but there was no real need for them to try and push forward in the second half after getting the stoppage time penalty kick goal. There were multiple times when an Indy Eleven player received the ball and there were already 9 Scorpions behind the ball. The Eleven forwards and midfields aren't the tallest group so they don't regular serve the ball into the box to get a head on the ball and typically rely on quick passes to get their shots on goal, but that issue becomes exacerbated when there are so many Scorpion defenders clogging the passing lanes.

The Eleven had very good chances at goal, but the Scorpion goalkeeper Fernandes made some great saves and parries of the ball to prevent the Eleven from getting on the scoreboard. The Richards shot from around the six that Fernandes snagged with one hand was a very good reaction save.

Has there ever been a team that has used the delay tactic as much or as early as the Scorpions did in this game? It felt like Fernandes started delaying his kicks in the first half before they were even leading. Color commentator, and Scorpion player, Julius James thought it was the greatest thing in the world how much they were delaying and praised the potentially fake injury of Attakora as being "good play by a veteran professional." While delaying is part of the game, it was clearly excessive to the point that Richards resorted to going to get the ball to set it up for Fernandes' goal kicks.

Lastly, if there's one thing I've learned listening to the other team's commentators through the ESPN3 feed, it's that Indy is blessed to have Greg Rakestraw doing their games. Rake may not have the fame of JP Dellacamera, but Greg is better than nearly all of the other team's commentators, and world's better than San Antonio's. Add in San Antonio using a current player for the color commentary and they took partisan commentating to a completely obnoxious level. Maybe that was just me though...

The Eleven are where they started in points away from making the playoffs with one less game. If they have any intention of making it, Saturday's upcoming game at Carroll Stadium against Edmonton has to be the first peg in a win streak.


Don said...

I am beginning to think the can't put two wins back to back. Hopefully I am wrong.

Jeff C. said...

Your golf game sounds *a lot* like mine. And it's a great analogy--except that in golf the way you play tends to translate directly into your score, whereas in soccer that's not always the case. Indy has played well in two road games recently, against Minnesota and San Antonio, and has come away with two losses. And we occasionally see the reverse as well--a team (sometimes even Indy) playing badly but somehow eking out a win.

Not much the team could do about Hyland having a virus, I know, but I still hated seeing Frias out there. And he met my low expectations.

I agree about Greg Rakestraw. For someone who had virtually no experience with the game before last season, he's done really well. Hauter, on the other hand, is awful. He occasionally has a decent insight when he has a moment or two to think, but most of his contributions are useless babble.