Monday, May 1, 2017

Indy Eleven vs Armada - 04.05

- Opponent: Jacksonville Armada
- Location: Jacksonville
- Attendance: 3,122
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Falvey, Palmer, Keller, Ring, Henderson, Torrado, Ubiparipovic, Zayed, Braun
- Substitutions: Thompson 67' (Henderson), Watson-Siriboe 78' (Ring), Goldsmith 88' (Ubiparipovic)
- Unused: Cardona, Lomeli
- Goals: Braun 25' (assist Zayed)
- Bookings: Keller 28' (Yellow), Palmer 71' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

"You know my name is Simon and I like to do drawrings. I like to draw all day long. Come and do drawrings with me." Much like Simon, the Indy Eleven seemingly like to draw all day long too. Five games into the season and the Eleven have drawn San Francisco twice, Puerto Rico twice, and have finally played a third opponent in the Jacksonville Armada, but finished the game with the same result of a draw. Is it time to start worrying about this string of results or do you believe the team's hype of being #undefeated? Depends on who you ask. I'm not concerned. Yet. If the Eleven draw again on Saturday against Edmonton in the friendly confines of Carroll Stadium, I'll flip 180-degrees and will go into full worry mode. Even with an injury depleted roster, the home crowd should be enough to get the team off the draw train against Edmonton, who has looked worse than expected with only one win and four losses. A loss to Edmonton at home will be very concerning.

NASL/Opta Stats - JAX Distribution
Focusing on the game against Jacksonville, the official stats from NASL list some interesting things. Both goalkeepers, Jon Busch for the Eleven and Patterson-Sewell for Jacksonville, were both credited with zero saves. The Eleven and Jacksonville had exactly one shot on goal and both teams scored on their one shot. I'm not sure how often that occurs, but it would seem like a rare occurrence.

I don't know if it was more shocking, but I was surprised to see that the Armada held a 66% to 34% advantage in possession with a 546 to 274 advantage in the number of passes. There didn't feel like there was that significant a discrepancy in the amount of time that the two teams had the ball. What wasn't surprising about Jacksonville's possession and passing was that it mostly occurred in their own half, as can be seen from the NASL/Opta Stats graphic showing Jacksonville's distribution. Jacksonville's centerback Aaron Pitchkolan accounted for 4 of the team's 5 passing combinations, touching the ball 95 times in 90 minutes, completing 82 of 91 passes, but 83% of the time he was going left or right with those passes. Jacksonville wasn't exactly pushing the ball forward and the Eleven, due to the factors of weather and health, weren't really pressing the Jacksonville back four. Where we would normally see Braun pressing defenders and keepers to force mistakes, neither he nor Zayed did this as much for this game. The Eleven were content to let Jacksonville knock it around in their own defensive half and then use their energy on counterattacks. There were some moments of high pace and nervy moments by both teams, but really this was a game where both teams employed the same strategy of defend first, attack second.

This week's random stat/fact. The Eleven picked up two more yellow cards on the season to bring their season total to 10 (at least by my and the team's counts, though the league has the team at 12 in one place and 10 if you count in the match centers). I don't think the team is any more physical than the other teams they have played, but they're getting carded a lot more frequently by a 5 to 1 ratio. The only two cards the Eleven opponents have received were in the first game against San Francisco. Otherwise, the Eleven have picked up 8 yellow cards in their last four games while their opponents have a combined zero. Zero. Not sure what, or if, that means, but I thought it was interesting that another week passed with the opposing team's players getting words from the ref but never a card, while the Eleven were booked twice.

The Game Beckon Game Ball

I went into this feature on the site intending to give credit to the guys who stood out each game as the impact players for the team. Debated between Braun for his league-leading goal, Zayed for his assist (and overall stellar play), or Keller for once again stepping in and filling a role where needed (though it was the man he was marking that scored the goal so that dropped him some from consideration). Then I decided that I wanted this week's Game Beckons Game Ball to go to Coach Hankinson. Yes, Coach deserves a ton of credit for this run of draws. The Eleven have dealt with a lot of injuries already this season from a sports hernia to a kidney contusion (are you kidding me?!) and yet Coach has found the right mix of guys that have been able to get things accomplished and not let the season get too far away from them as they've had to let guys heal. Falvey, Thompson, Speas, Smart, & now Vuko have been the most notable injured and Coach got guys prepared. Keller and Watson-Siriboe started the year together as the CB pairing. Torrado played a LM role. In this game, the bench was so short, he had one forward, one midfielder, one defender, and BOTH backup goalies available for selection. Towards the end of the first half, Keller was injured and had to come off for a bit. Hankinson slid Ring back to LB to cover. Later in the game, Ring was hurt and had to be subbed off, however, Thompson had already come on for Henderson in the midfield. Coach brought on Watson-Siriboe who slid into the CB position and pushed Palmer up into a holding midfielder role instead of putting Keller in that position. We may not be satisfied with five draws, and I'm sure the players concur with that sentiment, but Hankinson is coaching his ass off right now to find the right pieces to work together while weathering this injury storm and I'm going to give him credit for that effort.


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