Friday, October 6, 2017

Indy Eleven vs Puerto Rico FC - 04.27

- Opponent: Puerto Rico FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 4,209
- Final Score: 5-0 L
- Starting XI: Busch, Franco, Falvey, Watson-Siriboe, Keller, Ring, Torrado,  Smart, Speas, Vukovic, Zayed
- Substitutions: Miller 58' (Keller), Henderson 75' (Franco), Goldsmith 83' (Speas)
- Unused: Cardona, Ubiparipovic, Thompson, Junior
- Goals: Zayed 37', Zayed 62' (assist Franco)
- Bookings: Torrado 55' (Yellow), Miller 86' (Yellow), Goldsmith 90'+2' (Yellow), Watson-Siriboe 90'+3' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

It’s a win, right? It could have been a shut-out, if not for a bogus handball call inside the box on a free kick in the 87th minute. Yes, it was a wrong call. I’ve watched it several times, slowed it down, and Torrado is clearly in the process of turning his body away from the kick so that the ball hits the backside of his arm and chest. There was definitely no intent, to the extent that Torrado’s head was turned 180 degrees from where the ball was kicked. He couldn’t have “accidentally” put his arm in the path of the ball because he had absolutely no clue where it was going to be. Once again, a horrible decision by the refs provided an opposing team with a penalty kick, which makes the 7th CONVERTED penalty kick on the season. To one for the Eleven...

I digress…

It was a win, right? Zayed finally found the back of the net. Twice. The first, in the 37th minute, off a hustle play where he did what he does best. He sniffs around the goal and waits for the cheese and then pounces on it. Smart put a good ball forward to Speas, who actually turned and shot the ball. Off the deflection, Zayed got to the ball first and put the ball under Spangenberg. The second, in the 62nd minute, Zayed got just enough of his head to the ball from a Franco cross to put the ball over Spangenberg. With family in town, on his birthday, Zayed picked a good day to get back to his scoring ways.

This was a game of two halves for the Eleven. They continued their sloppy passes and careless touches from Sunday's game against NCFC. Puerto Rico had twice as many chances created in the first half and held a 60/40 advantage in possession. The Eleven had four different guys who completed less than 70% of their passes in the first half, with Vuko completing a team low of 57% of his passes. They performed much better in the second half, but there's still a look of a team that ddon't seem to know where each other is going to go. Which is unfathomable with guys who've been playing with each other for as many games as many of these guys have together.

Prior to the game, I had a discussion with an observant fan/writer about how NCFC consistently exploited a weakness in the Indy Eleven defense by putting balls over the top of Vuko, forcing Miller to slide over to cover while Vuko trailed the play. As Miller slid over, that forced the rest of the defense to try and cover, oftentimes with last ditch defending. How do you overcome this? Well, if you're Coach Hankinson, then you put Daniel Keller in at left back and put Vuko in a left winger, playing to where he tends to go anyway. Honestly, I'm not sure why it's taken this long to try this experiment. I suppose it's helpful to have enough healthy defenders, and an improved play by Watson-Siriboe certainly made this work better than if KWS had some of the errors he's had in previous games.

Speaking of KWS... I've been routinely frustrated at his play in the past, but I love how he stood up for his teammate at the end of the game. First off, Goldsmith deserved his yellow card in stoppage time and the ref was correct in having the card out of his pocket before Martinez stopped rolling around. The second Gentile pushed Goldsmith, center ref Jon Freemon should have turned to give Gentile his second yellow card of the game. However, instead of giving the yellow to Gentile for retaliation, directly in front of him, Freemon waited to give the yellow to the retaliation's retaliation when KWS shoved Gentile. KWS knew he was getting a card, accepted it graciously, and fully expected that Gentile would receive what he deserved. Once again, the ref failed to do his job properly and Gentile gets to play again this weekend in North Carolina unless the league does their job properly and suspends him. I'm not going to bank on that happening though. My favorite part of this end-of-the-game fiasco was reading KWS's lips as he turns back to Gentile in the scrum and yells, "what's wrong with you?"

It was an eventful end to the game, but a game that the Eleven desperately needed to win. A game on a Wednesday night with a short turnaround between games, against another bottom of the table team, with the Cosmos headed to town on Saturday. The Eleven desperately needed to win. The Eleven needed the win to keep any chance to making the playoffs. Maybe the team still believes. Maybe you do too.

Maybe I will after Saturday...

Photos (courtesy of Don Thompson Photography):


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