Monday, August 7, 2017

Indy Eleven vs FC Edmonton - 04.18

- Opponent: FC Edmonton
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 9,072
- Final Score: 3-1 L
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Falvey, Keller, Vukovic, Ring, Smart, Speas, Torrado, Zayed, Goldsmith
- Substitutions: Henderson 77' (Torrado), Thompson 82' (Goldsmith)
- Unused: Cardona, Watson-Siriboe, Palmer, Ubiparipovic, Ables
- Goals: Vukovic 66' (from free kick)
- Bookings: Torrado 52' (Yellow), Ring 74' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

In an 8 team league, teams are going to play each other multiple times. The Eleven have seen their fill of the Eddies in the first 18, having now played each other 4 times. Unfortunately with this week's negative result, the Eleven have now played the Eddies to 1 win, 1 draw, & 2 losses. Playing a team this frequently also means that you're not going to be able to surprise anybody with formations or personnel. You are who you are and they are who they are. Injuries will adjust slightly, but given the number of injuries the Eleven had in the Spring Season, there is plenty of video on each player on the roster for which opponents can use to scout.

Yet, the defensive-minded Eddies came out in a much more attacking role than normal, putting the Eleven back on their heels early, continuing their mindset at the end of last week's game. Coach Miller indicated to last week's Edmonton television personnel that he would rather lose 5 - 4 than lose another 1 - 0 decision. That scoreline is a sore spot for Edmonton as they lost 8 games by that scoreline and as such, started attacking early and kept at it forcing the Eleven into poor touches and passes throughout large portions of the game.

The Eleven and Edmonton have routinely played close matches and a single goal has often been the game-winner. While it wasn't the official game-winner for Edmonton, their first goal in the 53rd minute off of a Corea penalty kick seems to be a microcosm of some of the Eleven's issues with referees, penalty kicks, and yellow cards. That was also so much going on during the penalty kick, that I'm going to break it down into little pieces that I want to discuss. The kick also signifies the 4 goal other teams have scored from the spot on the Eleven and another two that have been scored off saved penalty kicks that were followed and put away. Six penalty kicks awarded to opponents in a season seems high to me and there's still another 14 games left to go.

Here's the video:

Is there contact? Yes. Enough to cause a player to be taken out the way that Galvao makes it appear? No. Is the ref in a good position to make the call? Yes. Does he make the correct call? In my opinion, no. No, he does not.

From the video, you can see that the "foul" was called at 50:24 in the game. Yet the ball didn't finally make it into the back of the goal until 52:34. What could possibly happen to take over 2 minutes to take a penalty kick?

The comedy duo of Torrado and Falvey. Once the ball is set, Corea ties his shoes. Torrado has some discussion with the ref, within inches of Corea to give him some extra time to think about his shot. As Torrado backs ago, Falvey moves forward to complain about the ball placement while taking the ref's attention, and Torrado pulls out this gem:

Yes, that is Torrado reaching down and untying Corea's boot. It ultimately meant very little to Corea as he scores the kick and Torrado picked up his second yellow in as many games in the Fall Season, but that's a guy that has a lifetime of doing the little things to try and get into opposing players' heads.

Photo: NASL/FC Edmonton
If you recall, Edmonton were awarded a penalty kick back in May when these two teams played as Corea tripped over his own feet, made quite the show of going to ground, and was another unusual sequence played before fans in Edmonton. Here's my description of that sequence:
Torrado's own frustration bubbled over as he used the opportunity to get a drink from Busch's water bottle after the ball had been placed for the kick, then walked straight to Corea taking the kick, touched him on the arm, and provided Corea with some choice words. At which point, he was shown his third yellow in as many games.
Sounds eerily familiar. Continuing from my description...
After that, Corea stutter-stepped his way to blasting the penalty kick off the right side of the crossbar even though Busch went to the left. But wait, the call that's never called gets called as the Eleven were charged with encroachment.

After all of the festivities this week with Falvey and Torrado, Corea finally prepares to take the penalty kick, stutter-stepped his approach again and put it to the right side of the goal while Busch dove to the left. Edmonton is now up by a goal in a game/series where one-goal games are common. My issue with the last part of this scenario is visible in the screen capture on the right. At this point in the capture, Corea has completed his stutter-step, but the ball is still firmly planted on the white spot on the ground. Yet Diakite, Fisk, and Ameobi (ok, and Falvey) are all well on their way towards goal. Given that Diakite started from the circle, that's a hefty run before the ball is ever kicked. This continues to prove why fans are constantly frustrated with the officiating that takes place in the NASL. If it was encroachment in Edmonton when Edmonton missed the shot, then it is encroachment here when they make the shot.

NASL/WNDY screen capture
<--- Oh, and while I'm at it talking about the NASL referees, this needs to end.

If I was the ref, I would tell them that if they aren't wearing a captain's armband, if they said another word, they would get a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm not sure if it is a letter of the law, but it might stop the meeting of the minds that some teams think is necessary after every single call.

Edmonton went on to score in the 59th minute, followed by a spectacular free kick from Vukovic, only to see Edmonton put one more on the board in the 73rd minute. After the second goal, I didn't think the Eleven could come back to win it and the final 17 minutes seemed like a formality once they scored their third. The team has talked about the belief that they can win, anywhere and anytime, but that feeling didn't seem to be reflected on the field on Saturday and is definitely a change from their 2016 form. They head down to Miami this week to play a team reeling from their first losing streak all year, eager to prove it was just a blip on the map, so the Eleven need to find that belief again and find it fast.

The Game Beckons Game Ball:

Vukovic. Not necessarily because I thought he overall play was spectacular necessitating choosing him over anybody else, but the guy can hit a damn good set piece. He scored off of one in the 66th minute in the upper left corner and then nearly did it again into the upper right hand corner later in the game. The NASL referees like to call fouls when a player falls out, regardless of whether it was actually a foul, so the Eleven need to fall down in the final third whenever they get the contact. Others seem to be playing the system and with a weapon like Vuko's free-kick left foot, the Eleven need to take advantage as often as possible.



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