Sunday, June 12, 2016

Indy Eleven vs RailHawks - 03.10

- Opponent: Carolina RailHawks
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 9,341
- Final Score: 4-1 W
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Falvey, Janicki, Vukovic, Mares, Paterson, Larrea, Gordon, Zayed, Braun
- Substitutions: Lacroix 63' (Paterson), Ubiparipovic 76' (Falvey), Ring 89' (Larrea)
- Unused: Cardona, Shaffer, Keller, Miller
- Goals: Zayed 16', 65', 85', Braun 45+1'
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: None

As I prepared to head to the game tonight, on a night when minutes before the start of the game the air temperature was a little more than 90-degrees F, I wondered if the Eleven would be physically able attack this game in a way that would be able to produce enough goals to overcome the deficit behind the New York Cosmos and win the Spring Championship. Short bursts in that kind of temperature take a toll on the body. Would they have enough energy to be able to sustain the pressure through 90 minutes to score as many goals as the team has been able to do only once? Further complicating the issue is that the on-field temperatures are usually higher than the air temperature. So armed with a normal thermometer from the house, I did a little field investigation.
Yes, folks, that says 106.1-degrees F. Though, it was so hot (and admittedly not using a device designed to do what I was asking it to do), it went up to 106.8-degrees.
I also took a measurement in the shade, which minutes before the start of the game, was basically non-existent. 101.8-degrees F. Still hot!
Yet, despite the heat, the team came out with their collective foot on the gas and put Carolina on their heels from the very beginning. The final possession stat indicates a slight edge to Carolina, but this game was about Indy seeing a chance to collect some hardware and going after it. Average Position stats and Heat Map are much more heavily skewed towards the offensive end of the field, which is something that we haven't seen often from the Eleven. 

I started this graphic this season and have been updating it in the sidebar, but wanted to bring it out into the main article after this game. With this game, the Eleven have scored 15 goals on the season; 12 at home and 3 on the road. What's interesting to me about where the Eleven are scoring their goals is that only two of them are outside of 12-yards from the goal and only one has been outside of the 18-yard box. This was not the case last season where we witnessed a number of long range goals. This team is finding success inside the 6-yard box and today was no different. Three of the four goals were within that area and the fourth was just a yard outside of it. They are still taking shots outside the box, but the ones going into the goal are from close range. (Sidenote: Anybody remember how we thought that Zayed and Braun would start scoring goals once they got their first one? That player for me, now, is Dylan Mares. He is without a goal nor an assist on the season, but it's not for a lack of effort. Some of his shots have been on the high side, but he's not been afraid to take the shot when it becomes available. Dylan needs to see one find the back of the net, and soon.)

This team believed they could put 4 goals on the board and played that way. In a change from normal, there was a more offensive game plan. As the game neared the end and they were chasing that final goal, Coach Hankinson made good on his Soccer Saturday comments of going for the title. Paterson was subbed for Lacroix, creating a more offensive presence. On more than one occasion, Gordon was up top with Zayed and Braun. Then when Falvey needed to come out due to his injury (leaving Busch as the only ironman left on the team to play every single minute of the season), Coach Hankinson brought on Ubiparipovic, definitely not a like-for-like substitution. At that point, the Eleven were, in essence, playing a 3 man back line, 5 midfielders, and 3 forwards. They were up by two goals with a win well in their sights and they chose to go for the title too. While this is still to be determined as of this writing due to the Edmonton versus Fort Lauderdale game tomorrow, if a 4-1 win by the Eleven has already been labeled as the "Miracle at the Mike," the SIX goal margin of victory needed by the Strikers would go down in the NASL history books as one of the greatest wins of all time. So the Cosmos were the first in the clubhouse with the title in their grasp only to watch the Eleven come in behind them and take the Spring Season title away. Later on Sunday, the Eleven will know if it will remain theirs.

I said recently that nothing would surprise me about this team any longer. I said that this team could be special, it just might not happen in the Spring Season. As a joke, I said I wanted to see a 3-5-3 tactical formation out of this team for this game.

This team believed.

This team achieved.

"Mr. Hat-Trick" did nothing to diminish his legend, but rather grow it more. 

I hope Gordon is ok. He looked like he might have been dehydrated after the game...

What a way to go out Peter!

Congratulations Eamon on the Player of the Week selection! Twice in 10 games!

Congratulations Eamon on the Play of the Week Nominee! Vote here!

And Play of the Week selection!

Congratulations Team of the Week honorees: Vuko (6th time), Zayed (2nd time), and Falvey (well deserved)


1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

A week later, I'm still buzzing from this remarkable game. The pressing in Carolina's half in the first twenty minutes or so was something we've rarely seen from Indy this year (we did see it against Minnesota), and I was sure that they wouldn't be able to sustain the intensity on a hot night. But, although the pressing diminished, the team fought and fought and fought.

After two timid draws in Florida, I didn't think that this team and this coach had a game like this in them. Shame on me for doubting.