Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Indy Eleven vs Strikers - 02.29

- Opponent: Fort Lauderdale Strikers
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 9.213
- Final Score: 2-1 W
- Starting XI: Nicht, Franco, Janicki, Norales, Frias, Ceballos, Pena, Steinberger, Smart, Brown, Mares
- Substitutions: Lacroix 68' (Ceballos), Ring 74' (Mares), Miller 85' (Norales)
- Unused: Cardona, Miller, Wojcik
- Goals: Smart 19' (assist Ceballos), Brown 43' (assist Mares)
- Bookings: Smart 29' (Yellow), Steinberger 34' (Yellow), Nicht 90' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

If ever there was a game that the fans wanted to see duplicated, it was the Minnesota game from last week.  With the exception of a couple changes to the starting lineup due to injuries to Keller and Lacroix, the game followed a similar script. The Eleven didn't win the "official" possession battle, but were the clear winners of the "meaningful possession," particularly in the first half where they gave themselves a 2 - 0 halftime advantage. The team seemed to take their foot off the gas a little during the second half and defended a bit more, but they continued to press and move the ball well. It was only with one of the rare Norales miscues that Fort Lauderdale scrapped back a goal to make it an interesting final 30 minutes.

It took 50 starts, but Nicht obtained his first yellow card as an Indy Eleven for some time wasting at the end of the game. Given that it came at the end of a victory, I'm sure he's okay with it. There were comments made about this being his 50th start and some rumors that this game might be his final home game as an Eleven. Whether this is because he will be going to another team, or more likely because of retirement, he will finish the season as one of the most capped players for the Eleven. Norales and Mares are both closing in on the 50 game mark and Smart bypassed that milestone a few games ago having played in 54 games for the Eleven. If it truly was Nicht's final home game as an Eleven player and the team knows it, it would have been nice if the team let the fans know beforehand so that the fans could have given the first ever player signed by the team a proper send off. I expect we'll know relatively soon whether the rumors were true and what other players might be joining him.

Like I stated for my thoughts on the Minnesota game, this is the type of play that the team has shown in flashes throughout the season. It's just a shame that the best played games of the season come at the end after they've been eliminated from the playoffs. It also shows what a winning streak can do to the table. With the exception of the top three teams, the rest of the league is very compact in the standings and every point makes a difference. If the Eleven can extend the win streak to three against Carolina on Friday, the Eleven will have gone from 11th place in week 27 to 6th place just three weeks later.

What could have been? That's the question to ponder during the off-season, but it's nice to enjoy a win streak right now.


Congrats to Brian Brown for making this week's Team of the Week


Unknown said...

We had a tifo that said "Danke Kristian" in the BYB before the start. Pictures are floating around somewhere of it.

Drew said...

Stefan, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I saw the tifo, which was great, but it seemed more of a recognition of Nicht's 50th start than a potential final game. I never saw anything "official" indicating that it might also be his last home game with the team until later and only in "unofficial" capacities. I still think that if he and the team both know that he's finishing his Eleven career after this season, it would have been appropriate to celebrate his status of the first ever signing and the way he embraced this city (he frequented Colts, Indians, Fever, and Fuel games). The team has been working under the #IndyForever theme and I think it would be appropriate to honor the team's first player by acknowledging his time and effort by everybody and not just a tifo in the BYB.

Just my opinion.

Jeff C. said...

I agree that it would have been nice to see something a bit more official acknowledging Nicht's role as Indy's first player and his importance to the team over the last two years Iand in the inaugural season especially). Perhaps his departure isn't quite the done deal we all think it is?

This was a fun game, especially in the first half. Indy may not have dominated possession, but it definitely dominated field position, keeping the Strikers pinned inn their own half and forcing numerous turnovers. Things slacked off in the second half--I'm not sure whether due to fatigue, tactical adjustments and substitutions by Fort Lauderdale, or a decision by Regan to modify the approach in light of a two-goal lead. But that first half, that's what I've been hoping to see all year, and have only seen in rare, fitful spurts here and there.

Props to the BYB for the spirited singing of the National Anthem. There have been some really awful Anthems this year, mostly by singers far too fond of the sound of their own voices and insistent on dragging the song out to intolerable length through dirge-like tempos. The BYB sang with gusto, and with appropriate pace. I'd support giving them the role full-time (provided they learned the Canadian anthem for the Ottawa and Edmonton games--no repeats of last year's non-BYB embarrassment, please).