Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Richmond - 05.01

- Opponent: Richmond Kickers
- Location: Richmond
- Attendance: 4,756
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Pasher, Matern, Watson, Steinberger, Starikov, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions: Guerra 72' (Starikov); Ring 82' (Matern); Braun 90'+1' (McInerney)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Speas, Moses
- Goals: McInerney 41' (assist Saad)
- Bookings: Matern 60' (Yellow); Steinberger 68' (Yellow); Ferreira 90'+6' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

The Eleven start their USL campaign with a win. Given their late start on, well, everything, that's respectable. I'm going to temper my excitement until I see them in person because they were playing a Richmond team that was hammered in week one, was missing 4 players (2 starters) to international play, and had players playing out of position. So while the Eleven won the game and generally seemed to be the better team, they didn't get much to show for it. Three points, notwithstanding.

Yet the word that repeatedly jumped in my head throughout the game was "potential."

You can see it. They're not quite there yet on being consistently on the same page, but there were glimpses of where this team could potentially go. The interplay between guys. The quick passes. Their first touches. The potential isn't fully baked yet so I'm not willing to go on a limb to say that they are capable of beating Cincinnati this coming weekend, but if things continue to progress at the pace they have to date, the second meeting with Cincinnati might provide a completely different result.
USL Stats - Starikov Touchmap

Hopefully, McInerney's goal in the 41st minute from a very difficult cross by Saad is a sign of the growing relationship between the front line that will result in more goals. The work-rate of these guys was impressive too. Justin Braun may have some competition in this team for the hardest working guy on the field. McInerney and Starikov had touches in the defensive half; deep in the defensive half in the case of Starikov. The tactics seemed to change at halftime and the high press that the forwards employed against Richmond's backline in the first half was much more subdued in the second half. It was there in spurts, but did not seem to be as consistent. A lead on the road in your first game in a new league with a new coach and players likely still getting up to match fitness will do that though.

USL Stats - Pasher Touchmap
It didn't feel like it was as often, but Tyler Pasher is following in the footsteps of the guy who played his position last year. Vuko was a striker playing left back and Pasher doesn't quite have that feel, but I was surprised at how many times I noticed that he was pushing forward. Based on the touchmap, Ouimette on the right side pushed forward too, but I didn't notice it as much until I looked at the data. Both of those guys could make those runs as the centerback pairing of Ferreira and Mitchell were solid all game.

USL Stats - Fon Williams Distribution
One last graph for the recap that seemed to happen more often than the data indicates, but it was still more than Indy Eleven fans are used to seeing the past two years from their goalkeeper. The reliable Jon Busch typically put balls in places where the team could do something with them. Periodically, under significant duress, his balls would go astray, but it was a regular occurrence to see Fon Williams' clearances to find the sidelines. His distribution chart indicates there were five balls that were in this category, but I would have sworn there were more than that. If this continues to be a trend, the Eleven are going to see teams put additional pressure on him to get him to rush his kicks and turn it over to them. We'll see if it was a first game issue or whether it remains a trend.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Like last year, I'm going to give out my Game Beckons Game Ball. I think there were several guys that were deserving, but for the first goal in the first game in a new league, I'll give it to Jack McInerney. I have a feeling it won't be his last.