Sunday, May 7, 2017

Indy Eleven vs Eddies - 04.06

- Opponent: FC Edmonton
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 7,159
- Final Score: 0-0 D
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Watson-Siriboe, Keller, Ring, Thompson, Torrado, Ubiparipovic, Zayed, Braun
- Substitutions: Plumhoff 79' (Ubiparipovic), Poltronieri 90'+2' (Zayed)
- Unused: Cardona, Henderson, Goldsmith, Lomeli
- Goals: Braun 25' (assist Zayed)
- Bookings: Ring 34' (Yellow), Ring 90' (Yellow ->Red)
- Adage goals: None

Due to brisk temperatures and a stiff wind, the Indy Eleven debuted their new Adidas kits in front of a smaller than normal crowd. However, the new #ThreeStripeLife didn't translate to #ThreePoints as the Eleven drew yet again, this time at the hands of FC Edmonton. An Edmonton team that was coming off three days rest having played (and lost) on Wednesday against Ottawa in the Canadian Championship. An Edmonton team that has been held scoreless in four of their six games and have only scored three goals all season. Not exactly an offensive juggernaut and the kind of team where a goal scored against them likely gets you the win.

Yet the Eleven forced Edmonton goalkeeper Konopka into making just two saves on twelve shots. Eight of those shots came from outside the box, which is nearly twice the team's normal average. Despite winning the possession battle and spending a great deal of time in Edmonton's side of the field, the Eleven only had a few solid chances on goal, but overall, the two team's played like a draw was the plan. For Edmonton, that might have actually been the case, but I doubt that Indy went into this game trying for a single point. So what turned a desired win at home into a deserved draw?

Injuries are clearly a factor. Ables (knee), Franco (leg), Manning (head), Smart (quad), Speas (abdominal), Vukovic (kidney) were all unavailable for the game. Meaning that Plumhoff and Poltronieri, who were officially signed to the team on FRIDAY, had to be available for selection and both entered the game. That severely limits Coach Hankinson's options to try and exploit opposing teams' weaknesses. He basically has to go with who is healthy and hope they can get it done.

Tonight, the team that he did put on the field seemed to be off with their first touches, which gave the Eddies enough time to stifle even the faintest of attempts by the Eleven. How bad was it? Even the normally accurate Torrado could must only about 60% pass completion rate. Every time a first touch failed a player, the rhythm of a run or a pass or a clearance were affected. It was not a pretty game.

One of the disadvantages of having the league select Braun as the Player of the Month (which is a well deserved acknowledgement of his efforts this year), he's not surprising anybody. The second he touched a ball, at least two Edmonton players closed the space to him so that he couldn't make a play. As I've said before, when the offense is relying so heavily on him right now, that makes the Eleven offense look anemic and means that somebody else is going to need to step up. And soon. Zayed has definitely stepped up his effort the last couple weeks, but the last year's team leading scorer needs to start putting some of his shots in the back of the net to help ease some of the burden on Braun.

I'm officially on the worried bandwagon. This team needs a win and they need it badly. If they can't get one at home against one of the worse teams in the league that was coming off a mid-week game, I don't have high hopes for maintaining the undefeated streak at Miami next week. League leading Miami. A draw in Miami next week might be high hopes at this point with so much of the team in the infirmary. Back-to-back games against Miami the next two weeks will put the team at the half-way point in the Spring Season and may go a long way to determine whether they have any chance at a Spring title or whether they stay middle to back of the pack.

Brad Ring. I don't care if he was tossed on a double yellow card scenario. In a game where the ref called a foul against the Eleven seemingly every time an Eddie fell down, it's actually more amazing that more players weren't shown yellows and Ring probably could have picked up a second one long before he did. His first one was deserved, his second one wasn't but he didn't shy away from any of the physical play. Though his yellow cards highlight a disturbing trend with the Eleven this year. They've received yellow cards at nearly a 4 to 1 clip compared to their opponents. Have they been physical? Yes. Have they been that much more physical then their opponents? No.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I want to give this week's Game Beckons Game Ball to Larry Mason. During the 74th minute of the game, the normally boisterous group went silent for an entire minute as they paid tribute to Larry Mason, who passed away this week at the age of 74. The team had a moment of silence before the national anthems and the BYB released smoke in his honor. For those that don't know, Larry is the father of BYB President, Josh Mason, but Larry was an enjoyable presence on the endline as he took photos. I didn't know Larry that well, but he was always worth a good conversation. Ironically, the last time that the Eleven played Edmonton last year, Larry allowed me to use some of his photographs for my post. In fact, he knew that my normal photographer, my own father, was not going to be at the game and offered his photos to me without me asking for them. It was just something he wanted to do. That's usually what good guys do and Larry Mason seemed to be one of those from everything I ever observed of him. My thoughts are with the Mason family during this time.



1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

Well, at least the new kit looked reasonably good.

At this point, I'm beginning to feel like I'm watching the team from he inaugural year again. There's no coherence, no vision, and very little skill. Injuries have a lot to do with this, to be sure. But it's still frustrating. I have no doubt that the weather played a role in holding down the crowd on Saturday, but unless the product on the field improves I don't see the numbers rebounding substantially. I think that, for the general sports fan in Indy, the novelty has worn off; if the team doesn't win, people won't come in such great numbers.