Sunday, July 31, 2016

Indy Eleven vs Miami FC - 03.16

- Opponent: Miami FC
- Location: Miami, Florida
- Attendance: 5,076
- Final Score: 2-1 L
- Starting XI: Cardona, Franco, Miller, Janicki, Vukovic, Mares, Torrado, Ring, Gordon, Braun, Zayed
- Substitutions: Smart 61' (Gordon), Ubiparipovic 74' (Ring), Reinoso 80' (Torrado)
- Unused: Palmer, Paterson, Busch, Falvey
- Goals: Zayed 89' (assist Smart)
- Bookings: Janicki 87' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: Two

I hate writing after losses. Especially when the statistics and the eye test indicate that it didn't need to be the Eleven's second loss of the year and second in the last three games. Yet, as we saw a lot last year, when you give up early goals, it affects the way the game gets played. Especially when you're on the road against a team who seems to be finding some confidence with their mid-year acquisitions.

Opta NASL Full time Heat Map
This game was played, almost entirely, in the Miami half of the field. I don't think I've ever seen a Heat Map and Average Position charts as one-sided towards one team's offensive half as this game. Miami's 4th minute goal clearly allowed them to settle in and defend, but time and again, the Eleven had chances that they just didn't convert. The kings of late goals made it interesting on a Zayed (or Braun depending on who actually gets credit for putting the ball all the way across the goal line - shown as Zayed right now) 89th minute goal, but giving up the 85th minute goal that made it 2-0 made their life much more difficult. The 90'+6 free kick from Vukovic was about 9-inches too far to the right as it grazed the outside of the post, and continued the trend of frustration in Florida for the Eleven.

Halftime Average Position
I rarely have the stat page up when watching the games so that I can focus on the play, particularly during away games where the field of vision is much more limited than the home games where I can attend in person and see the entire field. However, I decided to pull it up this game because I wanted to see a visual representation of how the game was going. It completely shocked me to see such a lopsided Halftime Average Position chart. Cardona was on an island by himself for the first 45 minutes with the other 21 players on the field in the Miami defensive half or within 10 yards of it.

Full time Average Position

Amazingly, the full-time Average Position chart didn't change drastically, even with the introduction of both team's substitutes. It's often hard to tell from the telecast where the defenders are located as the play transitions to the offensive end, but the Average Position chart shows Miller and Miami's leading scorer, Cvitanich, in nearly the exact same spot. I don't know if it was the plan for him to man mark to that degree, but that's the end result.

So another road trip and the team continued to have winless results. The team hasn't won on the road since April against the newly formed Rayo OKC (who happen to be on their own undefeated streak at the moment - currently at 8 games). It's not because the team didn't put the ball near the goal. Nor that they didn't have shots. The Eleven had 20 shots, but only managed to put 5 of those on goal. More amazing than the twenty shots they took, the team had 47 crosses. Unfortunately, only 23% of those crosses were successful and that leaves a lot of crosses that found the heads of Miami players or missed their mark entirely.

I've been thinking lately that one of the defining characteristics between the various levels of soccer throughout the world is the first touch. Strength and speed and vision all come into play, but the elite players in every league seem to have a better first touch. Nowhere is this most relevant than with Gerrado Torrado. His first touch is impeccable and sets him up to do good things when the ball comes to him. He completed 43/48 passes and I think it's because he sets himself up by not having to chase the ball or having the defender close in on him after a bad first touch. He made his second start, increasing his time from 45 minutes to 60 minutes to 80 minutes. Clearly, Coach Hankinson wants to get him involved, but has the flexibility to slowly work him into game fitness without drastically upsetting the team chemistry.

Assuming the goal stands as Zayed's, the assist will be officially credited to Don Smart. He's only averaging 38 minutes per game when he plays, but he seemed to affect the game more than any other player once he made his appearance in the 61st minute. In the 29 minutes he was in the game, he had 27 touches and 10 crosses. Unfortunately, only two of those crosses were successful, but it wasn't because he was timid about the game. He consistently attacked the endline trying to get the ball into the box into Braun and Zayed. Last year's "super sub" helped that nickname against Miami.

The Eleven had shots, chances, and possession, but couldn't finish. That's a lot of the reason why this game ended in a loss for the Eleven instead of a win. It's a good thing that the Eleven have become such a stout team at home, but they need to learn how to get some wins on the road. If they don't, they better hope they can start getting the results they got in the spring again rather than the ones they got on the road against Minnesota and Miami recently.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is clearly zayed's goal. I've finally given up on Bruan's ability to finish. As far as crosses go, whatever, they were more long ball's into the box from Vuko. After the first 25 attempts at a long ball failed, I just know IXI thought they would fool them with a 26th attempt. Ridicilous that the team became so one dimensional.