Friday, September 4, 2015

Indy Eleven vs United - 02.21

- Opponent: Minnesota United FC
- Location: Blaine, Minnesota
- Attendance: 7,137
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Cardona, Stojkov, Miller, Norales, Frias, Keller, Ring, Smart, Pineda, Richards, Wojcik
- Substitutions: Lacroix 66' (Smart), Ceballos 85' (Keller), Janicki 89' (Stojkov)
- Unused: Hyland, Steinberger, Nicht, Rugg
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Richards 17' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

Like most Indy Eleven fans, I didn't see any of the first half. Between the bad One World Sports feed and the horrible wifi were I was trying to watch, my impression of the first half is based on the Indy Eleven Live Twitter feed and the highlights (see below). So not a great deal on which to speak intelligently of the flow of the first half of the game.

What I can speak to is the lineup changes that Coach Regan implemented for the game against Minnesota, which were reminiscent of the Edmonton game and the wholesale changes that took place for that game. However, unlike that game, in conjunction with the mass turnover in players from the game before it, Regan decided to use a very overt tactical change from what we have come to expect out of the Eleven. The historical 4-4-2 was replaced with an almost 4-2-2-2 arrangement.  Stojkov played the right back position in place of Franco who was sitting due to last week's red card, with the centerback duo of Norales and Miller and Frias rounding out the back line. Directly in front of them were Ring and Keller, both who have been playing the defensive center midfielder role to date. Pineda and Smart on the wings as offensive mids, with Richards and Wojcik up top. That's quite the change from everything we've seen from the Eleven this season.

When you play like they did against Fort Lauderdale, you have to make changes, if only to show that there is some accountability.  Yes, the floodgates opened after the Franco red card, but you can't overlook the fact that the team gave up 3 goals in the first 20 minutes. So I understand Regan's changes for the Minnesota game.
With that much of a defensive presence, the tactic appeared to be of the defend-and-counter variety. When you give up 7 goals the game before and are headed into somebody else's house who have scored the second highest amount of goals this Fall Season (though surprisingly twice as many on the road as at home), it's not a bad tactic.  It's a tactic that is often as effective as it can be frustrating to watch.

My issue with the defend-and-counter tactic is that it seems like it limits the number of good chances that you are going to get in a game. So for a team that has issues with scoring and even taking shots on the goal, that means you better make the chances you get count. The Eleven didn't make those chances count. They had some good opportunities, but I can only recall two of them where I felt that they were ideal and Richards was, obviously, unable to convert on either. Two chances for the Eleven isn't going to get it done. Wait, that last minute try by Miller could have been a good opportunity, but that's a hard ball to one-time at that angle for a centerback. Love the guy, but that was hard to watch.

I understand the decision for the tactic, I just think that it's not helpful to limit shots on goal for a team that seems to have a hard time getting it in the back of the net. I also wouldn't expect to see the same thing on Saturday night against Jacksonville. In fact, for all of those who think that Cardona should be starting after the way that he played on Wednesday, I'm guessing Nicht is back minding the nets again on Saturday. I think Franco and Hyland are also back in and Smart, Keller, and Frias are back on the bench. The Armada have had a roller-coaster Fall Season and have difficulty scoring on the road so I don't think Regan will have the team sit back in as defensive a stance against them.

I think the team went to Minnesota in hopes of getting a tie, but maybe stealing a win with some luck. That shouldn't be their plan against Jacksonville, with three points being the only acceptable outcome if they want to stay in the playoff picture. A win against Jacksonville would leapfrog the Eleven over them and get them a little closer to that coveted final playoff spot depending on how the rest of the weekend progresses.

Every point matters, but the Eleven really need to start getting multiple points, especially at home and given that they only picked up one point out of their 3-game road trip. Use the home crowd and get three points to get a run going.


1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

I actually thought the setup worked pretty well. We moved the ball around reasonably well and had a decent amount of possession in Minnesota's end, including around the box. Ff the incisive pass to carve open the defense was largely missing, well, that's been true all year, anyway; I'm not sure Ceballos would have changed that. Richards really should have put away at least one of his two golden chances..