Sunday, May 14, 2017

Indy Eleven vs Miami FC - 04.07

- Opponent: Miami FC
- Location: Miami
- Attendance: 5,735
- Final Score: 3-2 L
- Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Watson-Siriboe, Keller, Torrado, Poltronieri, Plumhoff, Thompson, Braun, Goldsmith
- Substitutions: Speas 45' (Plumhoff), Manning 45' (Poltronieri), Smart 72' (Goldsmith)
- Unused: Cardona, Ubiparipovic, Franco
- Goals: Own Goal 56' (Freeman), Braun 83' (assist Smart)
- Bookings: Torrado 40' (Yellow), Thompson 60' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: THREE!

If you watched this game and aren't concerned, I envy you. I'm now fully on board with the worried crowd. The argument to date has been that there are so many injuries right now and the ship will right itself once everybody is healthy. I'm not sure that day is going to come anytime soon and the guys that Coach Hankinson has been forced to cobble together for a starting eleven haven't been able to manage anything on the offense end. With the exception of the Puerto Rico game where everybody took their foot off the gas and last night's game, the defense held together with duct tape has done a decent job. Yet just as the team starts to get Smart and Speas back into the fold, Henderson and Zayed are out with hamstring and back injuries, respectively. Plus, if you think that all of these minutes he's had to play on turf fields are good for Torrado's 38-year old legs, my 41-year old legs will tell you that you're overly optimistic. Hank has been forced to start, not just play, two guys that had signed with the team just a week ago. These are hints of the Ghosts of Eleven Past when new signees made starts within days of joining the team.

Photo credit: NASL
Every interview that I heard or read that involved Dylan Mares, he said exactly what he is supposed to say as a professional. This was just another game against a good team, they needed to be prepared, and he was going to do what he could to help Miami win. As I've said before, Mares was/is one of my favorite players and I don't fault him for making the change. It's been said that Indy offered him more money, but couldn't match what Miami offered him. An offer rumored to be 3 times his last Indy Eleven salary and would have made him the highest paid player on the Eleven roster. I'll let you make your own assumptions on whether his presence changes the nature of this season so far... Yet regardless of what he said, Mares played this game like a man showing his old team what they are missing. Mares had 58 touches; 4 shots on goal, 3 of which were on target; created 5 chances; completed 30 of 33 of his passes; was successful on all 4 of his tackles; and scored the dagger goal in the 61st minute just 5 minutes after the team drew equal on Miami's own goal.

NASL/Opta Stats - 1st Half Average Position
Mares wasn't the only part of the midfield who caused problems for the Eleven. Mares, Ryan, Rezende, and I'll include Poku in this, accounted for 171 touches, 6 shots (4 on goal), 11 chances, and completed 88% of their passes. Coach Hankinson commented earlier in the day on Soccer Saturday that he thought the Eleven could exploit Miami's wings and Plumhoff and Poltronieri in their first starts clearly listened to their coach. While both only played the first 45 minutes, their average position put them out wide to exploit whatever weakness Coach Hankinson felt was there to be exploited. Having watched the game, I'm not sure Coach Hankinson has the same opinion of their perceived weaknesses. Mares and Rezende completed all but 4 passes and created 6 chances. The Eleven midfield had absolutely no answer for Miami's midfield and maybe a fully healthy and match fit Speas and Smart and a non-red carded Ring changes things, but something has to change on the offensive end are it's not going to matter.

I've said before that right now, this team goes as Braun goes on the offensive end. Indy's first goal was an own goal scored by Miami's Freeman off a poorly directed header on an Eleven corner kick. Braun had a goal, but that's semantics and you could almost call it an own goal too. Braun's goal in the 83rd minute resulted from poor communication between Vega and, I think, Bernstein who let the ball roll, slowly roll, between them to Braun who was standing there and had to kick the ball five feet into the goal. Other than that, Braun had no other shots on goal and zero chances created. His up front mate, Goldsmith, managed 3 shots and 1 chance created. Those are the two guys paid to score goals and they created 4 shots and 1 chance created between them. Obviously, that's not good.

A mid-week USOC game against Michigan Bucks before heading home to face this same Miami team next week at Carroll Stadium means that the team is going to have to continue to shuffle around an already frequently changing lineup. Miami's last substitute in the game was Michel who came on in the 89th minute for Mares. Michel. The same Michel who was an NASL Best XI last year for Rayo OKC. Miami's depth and roster favors them in a short turnaround week for both teams, so as the season's undefeated streak came to an end in Miami, the Eleven's home undefeated streak looks to be in jeopardy too.


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