Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Indy Eleven vs Puerto Rico - 03.11

- Opponent: Puerto Rico FC
- Location: Bayamon, Puerto Rico
- Attendance: 6,605
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Miller, Janicki, Vukovic, Mares, Paterson, Ring, Gordon, Zayed, Braun
- Substitutions: Lacroix 55' (Gordon), Youla 79' (Paterson), Palmer 81' (Mares)
- Unused: Cardona, Ubiparipovic, Keller
- Goals: Youla 90+2'
- Bookings: Paterson 59' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

The adage goal is something that Doug Starnes first talked about with the Indy Eleven as far back as May 2014 on his Eleventh Heaven blog. "There’s this adage in soccer that teams are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of matches, a just either side of halftime, and just after a goal has been scored...For consistency’s sake, we’ll use five minutes as the universal window across the adage." It became such a trend of the Indy Eleven the past two seasons of giving up "adage" goals that I started keeping track. Well, the "adage" goal is back this season, but in reverse.

The good news is that the Eleven have only given up one adage goal, at the hands of Minnesota, minutes after going up 2-0, but the Eleven countered by scoring two adage goals of their own. In total, of the 16 goals that the Eleven have scored in their 11 NASL games, half of them have been of the "adage" variety. Six goals have been scored in the 85th minute or later. The goal against Puerto Rico was no different as a 90+2' goal by newcomer Youla Souleymane saved a point on the road in Bayamon after Puerto Rico took the lead on a goal in the 74th minute.

On paper, this game looked like it should have been a game that the Eleven should have won. Yet, the Eleven only picked up one win on the road in their undefeated Spring Season run so maybe it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they went down to Bayamon against a team that hadn't played a game in the league on a crappy and crumbling field and came away with a point. This team doesn't quit and this game was just one more example of why this team is special. Beautiful soccer? Not always, but you better not leave until the ref blows the final whistle.

The tone of the game was set though in the first 4 minutes. In a less than 10 second stretch, Braun was elbowed above the eye opening a good sized gash, then Vukovic was hit in the side, and finally Paterson was hit to finally stop the ball. Braun went off the field at the 2:25 mark and didn't return until the 8:40 mark trying to get the blood stopped and to get his kit changed because of the blood on it. This was going to be an ugly game, won with counters and set pieces, which is how both goals were scored.

A physical game led to one of the negatives of the game moving forward as Paterson's yellow card in the 59th minute was an unnecessary card that he could have avoided and it unfortunately puts him at four yellow cards for the season, meaning that his next card will put him on a game suspension for card accumulation. It was a silly foul compounded by an acting job by Culbertson, but Paterson should know better than to get into those kinds of games. I don't know when he'll get the next one, but it's just a matter of time before Coach Hankinson's going to have to work the bench.

In a rarity for the Eleven, they actually won the possession battle and translated it into a road win, similar to the Jacksonville game. I'm still concerned and confused by the Eleven's inability to win the Aerial Duels, particularly at the 2:1 margin of this game when they're historically averaging 24% of their passes as long. It's hard to argue tactics though with the team continuing to win/draw their way to the top part of the table.

There was a moment in the first half that was beautiful soccer and maybe it's a glimpse of the soccer that we all hope this team finds more regularly. On a hot night in Puerto Rico, on a field that was coming apart with every challenge, there was a minute in the game that didn't ultimately lead to even a shot on goal. Yet, it was fun to watch the team move the ball around the entire field. At the 30:14 mark, Paterson steals ball in the defensive third and the ball moved around and back before Braun was finally disposed over a minute later as he made the turn towards goal. I created a graphic showing where it started with Paterson to Gordon and back, but the sequence was Paterson to Gordon to Paterson to Vukovic to Paterson to Janicki to Franco to Braun to Mares to Franco to Miller to Janicki to Gordon to Paterson to Mares to Franco to Paterson to Gordon to Ring to Braun to Ring to Paterson to Mares to Braun. That's 9 of the 11 players on the field getting a touch, moving the ball with mostly one and two touches left to right, right to left, back to front, front to back.

Ugly and Beautiful.

This just might be the Indy Eleven way.

Congratulations Vukovic on your 7th Team of the Week selection!

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