Monday, May 2, 2016

Indy Eleven vs OKC - 03.04

- Opponent: Rayo OKC
- Location: Yukon, Oklahoma
- Attendance: 4,729
- Final Score: 2-1 W
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Janicki, Vukovic, Gordon, Ring, Paterson, Ubiparipovic, Reinoso, Zayed
- Substitutions: Lacroix 18' (Ring), Braun 56' (Reinoso), Larrea 75' (Ubiparipovic)
- Unused: Cardona, Smart, Miller, Franco
- Goals: Reinoso 7', Vukovic 77''
- Bookings: Ubiparipovic 9' (Yellow), Paterson 44' (Yellow), Braun 84' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

After the Ottawa game, I wrote that until proven otherwise, I wouldn't predict any multiple goal games from the Indy Eleven. Since then, they have proceeded to score twice in back-to-back games. The first was Zayed's brace against the Cosmos and they followed that up with two goals on Saturday night against Rayo OKC. Reinoso put a one bounce volley from the corner of the box over Fernandes in the 7th minute, surprising every Eleven fan (and the BeIN television crew) by putting the ball in the net 80 minutes earlier than normal. After conceding a goal to Rayo OKC in the 26th minute to a set piece goal from Michele that I fully expect to be in the Play of the Week nominees, Vukovic once again found himself in the right place at the right time and neatly put a ball in the back of the net in the 77th minute. Is this a case of goals begat goals and the start of a welcome trend or a two game aberration? With Edmonton coming to town, who have only scored two goals in their first four games and given up 3, let's hope for the former.

So that's the one paragraph recap of the scoring.

The defense continues to be stout. Unfortunately, they continue to need to be because the team, for the fourth game in a row, lost the possession battle. Badly. 65% to 35%, and that was consistent between the halves as Rayo OKC held a 63% to 37% edge at halftime. Rayo OKC had 260 more passes than the Eleven. Rayo also continued the trend of beating the Eleven on Duels and Aerial Duels. I hear you. Who cares if you lose the possession battle if you win the game? My only concern is that this is a definite trend. I will concede that a lot of the possession stat depends on where that possession takes place and Rayo OKC had a lot of possession in their defensive half. Yet, it means that you're chasing the ball and that starts to wear on the team's stamina and fitness. For a team that has had a few injuries and some concerns about working guys into full-match fitness, constantly chasing the ball isn't helpful. Maybe that will be the advantage of this team's depth as they move forward.

The positive is that the Eleven continue to find ways to get points out of games. With the Cosmos taking some points away from Carolina today, the top of the table took a much welcomed constriction after Carolina's fast start to the Spring Season. So the Eleven went on the road and came home with three points, regardless of how it might have looked. In an upcoming week where every single game pits a top of the table team against a bottom of the table team, it's good to get the win against Rayo and go into the Edmonton game with some momentum and confidence.

Now for some random thoughts:
NASL Opta Stats Average Position - Indy Eleven
Indy's points leader through the first four games is *drum roll* Nemanja Vukovic. That's right folks, your left back has been involved in three of the team's five goals in the early part of the season and so, even with some of the prolific goal scorers on this team, it's a piece of the stout defense that's also getting it done on the offensive end. His average position shows that he was getting forward against Rayo OKC, nearly as high up the field as midfielders Paterson, Ubiparipovic, and Larrea.

NASL Opta Stats Heat Map - Lovel Palmer
His counterpart on the opposite site of the field was a little further back on the field and provided me with the "Strange Statistic of the Game." Lovel Palmer was the only field player on the Indy Eleven whose heat map had red in it. Yet, not even Jon Busch had as intense a heat signature in one spot as Palmer. I'm not sure what that really means, other than Michel's presence on the left side for Rayo OKC likely had something to do with it, but Palmer spent a lot of time near the sideline in his defensive half.

NASL Opta Stats Heat Map - Zayed/Braun vs Cosmos
Finally, a random comparison of the difference between the 4-4-2 against the Cosmos and the 4-4-2 against Rayo OKC. Using the Opta Heat Maps for the two games for the "2" of the 4-4-2, here's the Heat Map for Zayed and Braun against the Cosmos. Both players spent a good amount of time in the offensive half with a good portion of it on the right side of the field and a nice signature around the 6-yard box which was ultimately where Zayed scored the game winner. Though, to be fair, that signature is more from Braun's presence than Zayed's.

NASL Opta Stats Heat Map - Zayed/Reinoso/Braun vs Rayo OKC
Now let's compare that to the "2" of the 4-4-2 against Rayo OKC. Zayed, once again, was up top against Rayo OKC, but he was initially paired with Reinoso for the first 56 minutes and then Braun for the rest of the game. In a game where the team held approximately 10% less possession, it would look like at least some of that was associated with the forwards. That, however, it about all that I can decipher between the two maps. Was the 4-4-2 more effective against the Cosmos? Maybe. Was Braun the difference? Maybe. Is it awesome that after last season where I spent most of my write-ups using only words and wishing that I could present graphical representations of data and statistics, I can actually do it this year? Definitely. Even if it is just to say that the difference wasn't exactly what I had expected.


Congratulations Jair for your Play of the Week nomination!

Congratulations Reinoso, Ubiparipovic, and Vukovic for being selected to the Team of the Week!

Congratulations Reinoso for winning Play of the Week!

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