Sunday, May 21, 2017

Indy Eleven vs Miami FC - 04.08

- Opponent: Miami FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 7,439
- Final Score: 2-0 L
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Falvey, Watson-Siriboe, Vukovic, Ring, Palmer, Thompson, Speas, Torrado, Braun
- Substitutions: Goldsmith 58' (Thompson), Keller 79' (Ring)
- Unused: Cardona, Manning, Poltronieri, Lomeli
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Torrado 76' (Yellow), Goldsmith 77' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

The thing about doing what I, and the other "grassroots" media, do is that we discuss the team as writers, but we're all fans first. Unpaid writers who needed/wanted an avenue to discuss their team. As a writer, I wanted to get home so that I could watch the replay to confirm what I felt I saw at the stadium. As a writer, I wanted to dive into the stats. As a writer, I want to get the words out of my head and onto the screen in a measured approach.

As a fan, I want to get the words out of my head and onto the screen as fast as humanly possible so that I can put this horrible stretch of results the past week behind me. As a fan, I left the stadium dejected and upset about the result of the game tonight. As a fan walking back to my car, the best my family could come up with for the game was "at least it didn't rain and it turned about to be a good night." As a fan, that's a terrible place to be. When the weather is the best thing that you can talk about from a game.

It could be argued that last year's success created high expectations and a string of draws is no longer an acceptable goal. Despite the injuries that have absolutely plagued this team in the first half of the spring season, there are a lot of good players on this team and they could (should?) have lucked into at least one win in that timeframe against the bottom part of the league. Yet, it's like the first Puerto Rico game in Indy on April 1st broke this team. They came charging out of the gate in that game and ultimately had to get a come from behind draw at home. Since that game, they've score two legit goals since I absolutely refuse to count the two goals in Miami last week created off an own goal by Miami's Freeman and the breakdown in communication between Miami's Vega and Bernstein that gifted Braun a goal. Since that Puerto Rico game, the Eleven haven't scored a single goal at home. The offense is just not working.

The team has looked absolutely terrible at times and that includes, most notably, getting blanked on Wednesday by AMATEURS. After looking completely overmatched last weekend against Miami, Coach Hankinson was able to make some adjustments in the lineup thanks to Speas being back in better shape and Ring back from his red card suspension. That tinkering of the lineup put the team in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Franco back in the right back position and dual defensive midfielders of Ring and Palmer. This put Speas and Thompson as the wingers, Torrado in the attacking midfielder role, and Braun up top by himself.

Indy Eleven/Matt Schlotzhauer
This lineup and tactical formation was built out of necessity of opponent and player availability. What it meant was that the man who has been the bulk of the Eleven's offense in Braun was left on an island tonight. Nearly every time he received a ball, it was with his back to the goal, with at least two defenders on him, often three or four. So when the ball was delivered to him, he had no choice but to send it backwards more than a third of the time, assuming it wasn't immediately stolen away from him. It also meant that the team purposefully played a highly defensive game plan with the intent of counter attacking for their chances. However, a significant number of the counter attacks were of the slow developing kind and that is never going to work against a team like Miami that has as much team speed as they do. They were consistently able to get players back behind the ball to stifle any Eleven attack. The Eleven's defensive to offensive transition was not nearly fast enough against a team like Miami.

At this point in the spring season, winning a game is the goal, not the spring season itself. The Eleven have only managed 25% of the available points, while league leading Miami has achieved nearly 75% of their available points. The injury bug can only be used for so long before it becomes a tiresome excuse. Based on my review of the fans' comments online, patience is severely waning. After losing to Miami tonight, the team's 21 game home undefeated streak came to an end and a road trip to bottom of the table mate FC Edmonton this coming weekend might be a welcome sight.

As a fan, prior to the game I said to my family:
"The team needed a confidence boost by seeing the ball go into the net a few times against a bunch of amateurs. Instead they shit the bed and lost to said amateurs w/o scoring a goal. Tonight they face what some consider to be the best team in all of Div 2 & who destroyed them last week. Tonight is not a rebound game. A draw will be a miracle."

Watching the game, it's almost like I knew what I was talking about.

Lowlight of the Game - I'm fairly certain that the ref stood over the ball meaning that I believe he's supposed to blow the whistle to restart and I never heard one. Beating Miami was going to be hard enough without allowing a goal like this:

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It's difficult for me to find a player in a game like this, but I'm going to reward Torrado tonight. His stats are a little off from his usual standard, but his work rate was on the level of Braun. Torrado was physical with Ryan all night and it cost him a yellow card, but he's one of the players who look like they actually care and was giving maximum effort. Unfortunately, I'm concerned that his effort now, and the minutes he's playing now, are going to come back to hurt the team towards the end of the season. At the end of the game, both he and Falvey were hobbling around so we'll see if his effort tonight turns into another entry in the non-stop injury report.



Don said...

I agree with the game ball to Torrado. You and I have disagreed about his contribution, but there is no denying that he seems to give 100%, 100% percent of the time.

There a few others that always seem work hard too, Brad Ring and Jon Busch are two that come to mind. Many others seem to just be going through the motions.

Jeff C. said...

Torrado is a real pro, but his legs are gone, and it affects all aspects of his game. I actually was a bit surprised to see him back this year.

I'm trying very hard not to sink into despair about this team and its future. They're not doing much to assist my efforts.