Sunday, September 11, 2016

Indy Eleven vs Strikers - 03.24

- Opponent: Fort Lauderdale Strikers
- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Attendance: 2,376
- Final Score: 2-1 L
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Keller, Vukovic, Braun, Ring, Torrado, Smart, Gordon, Zayed
- Substitutions: Lacroix 57' (Gordon), Mares 58' (Ring), Paterson 75' (Smart)
- Unused: Cardona, Shaffer, Franco, Youla
- Goals: Braun 88'
- Bookings: Palmer 15' (Yellow), Ring 42' (Yellow), Lacroix 76' (Yellow), Torrado 84' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

NASL/Opta stats - Average Position
18:08 - Falvey passes to Ring 5 yards away from the center circle on Indy's defensive side.
18:10 - Ring leads Vukovic for a run up the left side.
18:18 - To Vuko's left (and in front of him) is Smart, Braun and Zayed are near the penalty spot, and Gordon is making a run on the right side near the 18-yard line. Vukovic attempts a cross that never clears the Strikers back four.
18:23 - Ball is cleared deep to Nunez at the center circle. Torrado steps towards Nunez, but not quick enough. Ring is 5 yards away from Torrado and Vukovic is starting to make his run back.
18:27 - Nunez sends a through ball between all three defenders to Paulo.
18:33 - Nunez gathers and sprints towards goal. Ring at a full sprint (not nearly fast enough to keep up with Paulo) and Vuko continues at running speed, but not sprinting speed. Nunez takes the shot from the 6-yard box to far corner with Keller closing and Busch protecting near corner.


Thomas Rongen recapping the goal - "the one name we didn't mention, Chris, was Vukovic. Vukovic makes the run forward. Ball gets cut out. Transition happens. Left full back is drawn. Center back doesn't step. Ring has to chase right now from midfield. We just talked about the back four not being really in sync. That's a good example right there. Punished by Paulo Junior."

The Eleven struggle on the road and continue to make things more difficult for themselves by giving up goals and having to play from behind. I didn't see the game live and looked at the stats before I watched the replay. The Average Position graph shown above jumped off the page for me beyond everything else. I'm not saying that I don't want Vuko going forward because this team has thrived off of his left-sided service, but for the left back's average position to be EVEN with the forwards might be a bit much.

With somebody on that side with Paulo Junior's pace, I would prefer to have the left back not play in such an advanced position. Some of it could be attributed to the fact that the Eleven were chasing the game, especially after the Strikers picked up their second goal in the 67th minute from Maicon, but it magnifies the point of the Eleven's struggles of playing from behind on the road.

Braun got on the board late to help the goal differential and eliminate the clean sheet for the Strikers, but it continues to be a point of concern how badly the Eleven have struggled on the road. Given that the Eleven's run-of-form in the Fall has not been what it was in the Spring and the Cosmos continue to pull away from the rest of the pack, it's looking like the Soccer Bowl runs through New York. There's still several games remaining and the Eleven are starting to get healthy again, but with a streaking Miami FC coming into the Mike this coming weekend, the Eleven need to fare better against Miami than they did against Tampa Bay the last time they were at home.

Random high praise of the game:
Rongen regarding Mares - "I brought him into my 20s a few times. And at Louisville, where he played his college ball, Chris, he always played centrally for Kenny Lawler...he played always centrally and what I liked about him was that he was not fast, he was not strong, but he was extremely intelligent. He was tactically, he had a knowledge of the game way beyond his years and rarely lost the ball."


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