Sunday, July 10, 2016

Indy Eleven vs United - 03.12

- Opponent: Minnesota United
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Attendance: 8,066
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Miller, Janicki, Vukovic, Mares, Paterson, Ring, Gordon, Zayed, Braun
- Substitutions: Lacroix 63' (Gordon), Youla 73' (Paterson), Franco 84' (Braun)
- Unused: Cardona, Smart, Ubiparipovic, Keller
- Goals: Mares 78'
- Bookings: Braun 75' (Yellow), Janicki 89' (Yellow), Palmer 90+6' (RED)
- Adage goals: None

I'll call it right now. Mares makes the Team of the Week and is nominated for Play of the Week. Though if there was any justice in the system, both his goal, his save off the line, AND Busch's PK save should all be in the running for Play of the Week and I haven't even watched the other games around the league.

Both the Eleven and Minnesota looked to play defensively sound and limit chances while looking to counter on the offensive end. As a result, there was quite a bit of end to end action. Based on what we've seen from the Eleven this year, when a team plays like this, they aren't necessarily concerned with the possession battle. When both teams do it, one of those teams is going to dominate possession. To my surprise, that team was the Eleven. At halftime, the Eleven held a 65%-35% advantage and that went down only moderately to 58%-42% at full time. This is a complete flip of the possession battle from the first game between these two in the Spring Season when the Loons held a 65%-38% advantage. Given the Eleven's four goal output the last time these two teams met with very limited possession, perhaps the Loons wanted to further limit those chances for this game.

From my perspective, this game came down to three moments of individual brilliance.

  1. If ever there was a guy who needed a goal and deserved it by his play today, it was Dylan Mares. Last year's team points leader has had moments all season where he's pressed a bit too much, but I keep saying that the goal might be starting to feel much smaller lately for him and a goal is going to do wonders for his confidence. In the first half, Mares touched the ball 25 times, passing 21 times at a 100% passing accuracy. He finished with a 90% passing accuracy. He had great service into player after player all game, but particularly after he was moved centrally with Ring after the Lacroix and Youla subs. It's one of those examples of how a player plays better when they're in what they feel is they're more natural position. Go figure. But he needed that goal. His 30 yard goal in the 78th minute was a reward for his effort tonight as much as it was the rest of the season.
  2. Mares prevented a goal for Minnesota with a header off the line in the 90th minute that helped secure the win. Busch came off his line on a corner kick and after some guys were pinballed around the six, Lacroix runs into Busch knocking them both to the ground. Fortunately, as Busch came off his line, Mares slid towards the center of the goal from his normal near-post defensive spot, and calmly headed a ball that looked to be destined for the back of the net. Mares got it done on both ends of the field.
  3. While Mares' goal is what ultimately put the Eleven in the position to win and his goal line clearance helped secured the win, Busch's 38th minute penalty kick save of league leading scorer Ramirez may be the defining moment in the win. A goal by Minnesota minutes before half could have drastically altered the way the game progressed. A Minnesota team that was already content with not maintaining possession combined with a goal advantage would have likely not had an issue with dropping even further into a defensive position. Busch said afterwards that he was always going to go right and just didn't want to go too soon. Ramirez thought he had placed the ball perfectly, but Busch's pre-game preparation, quick reflexes, and strong hands kept the game at nil-nil.
There were a lot of good moments in the game for the Eleven, but those will be the three that I remember. What I'll want to forget, however, were the cards that were handed out towards the end of the game. Janicki deserved his card. I won't sugar coat it, he was lucky he didn't get a red card, but he was clearly baited into a retaliation and Minnesota's Mendes should have received a card as well. Minutes later in what had become a very chippy affair (and "chirpy" according to Busch's post-game comments), Minnesota's Venegas pushed Vukovic to the ground and should have likewise been given a card. He was not given a card however, and what was already a physical game bordered on being a violent game. A game that saw two players given red cards AFTER the game. One of those players was Lovel Palmer, who will miss Wednesday's game against Fort Lauderdale. The good news for the Indy Eleven is that there was a chance Franco would have been playing that game anyway, but it's still unfortunate that the ref let it get to that point. Given that these two teams play each other again in just 8 days in Minnesota, I'm guessing the ref is going to need to set an early tone to the game to make sure it doesn't get too physical.

On an evening when the weather was sunny and in the 70s, the Eleven were presented the Spring Season trophy before the game, had the Mayor of Indianapolis read a proclamation declaring July 9th, 2016 Indy Eleven day, stopped a PK, scored from 30-yards out, saved a ball off the line in the 90th minute, and had a player given a red card after the game. Minus the red card, that's about as enjoyable of an evening an Indy Eleven fan can hope to see.

Some great photos this week...


Congratulations Mares on being one of the Play of the Week Nominees!

Congratulations Mares and Busch on being selected to the Team of the Week!

Congratulations Mares on winning the Play of the Week!

1 comment:

Don said...

Maybe we should consider a road trip.