Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Indy Eleven vs FC Cincinnati - 05.02

- Opponent: FC Cincinnati
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 17,535
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Pasher, Speas, Matern, Watson, Steinberger, Starikov, McInerney
- Substitutions: Ring 44' (Ferreira - injury); Saad 57' (Speas); Braun 86' (Watson)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Guerra, Lewis
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Ferreira 41' (Yellow); McInerney 45'+4' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

In front of a franchise record 17,535 fans, the Indy Eleven began their new adventure in Lucas Oil Stadium with a 1-nil loss against FC Cincinnati, one of the stronger sides from last year. The Eleven were arguably the better of the two sides, but couldn't connect on their chances, while FCC managed to get one of their two shots on target to go into the goal. The Eleven more than doubled up FCC in shots, shots on goal, and shots inside & outside the box, but could only find the post in the 17th minute when McInerney headed a cross from Pasher. McInerney had another chance in the first half from the penalty spot, but FCC's keeper Newton went the correct direction and parried away the attempt, as well as the attempted rebound shot from Speas.

USL Stats - 2nd Half Shots
With a one goal advantage on the road and a fairly stout defense, FCC didn't push forward with the same intensity in the 2nd half; content to keep 8 or 9 guys behind the ball and absorb the pressure from the Eleven. Pressure that didn't happen as quickly as it needed during spells. As the lady behind me verbalized (in an accent I never did manage to pinpoint) what was in my head in the 73rd minute with a slow Indy Eleven build-up, "Where the runners?"

There are glimpses. Just like last week, you can see what this team can become. They're just not quite there yet. At least, not quite there yet all the time.

Eventually, the glimpses will happen more frequently and will provide more results. Pasher's pace and crosses continue to remind me of Vuko, but without Vuko's sometimes lackadaisical retreat back on defense. The cross that he sent in for McInerney's shot off the post came from Pasher taking on three different FCC defenders, the first of which was left standing still when Pasher used some fancy foot skills to freeze him.

USL Stats - FC Cincinnati Goal
Overall, the team played a good game and even FCC's goal came against the run of play at that point in the game. Bone sent a cross-field pass from left to right to a waiting Ledesma. When he wasn't immediately pressed, he put a perfectly weighted ball towards the penalty spot, which Welshman flicked on out of the reach of Fon Williams. Welshman was flanked by two Indy Eleven defenders and the ball floated right between them to where Welshman was waiting. It was one of the rare major mistakes the defense made all night, but FCC made them pay for it with a goal. While the defense didn't make too many mistakes, the offensive counterparts were putting too many of their shots high and wide of the FCC goal. Newton was credited with 6 saves, but the Eleven had 11 other shots off target, with some of them not even forcing any effort from Newton.

USL Stats - Fon Williams Distribution
As long as we're talking about goalkeepers, let's look in on how Fon Williams did this week with keeping his clearances in the field of play. One ball exited the field from his clearances. However, that ball was kicked as Fon Williams was under pressure from one of the FCC forwards. Two games in and I've noticed that he doesn't do well with clearances when under pressure. It's not going to take too much longer for the rest of the league to see enough tape to test him more often to see if they can force him to turn the ball over without the rest of the team doing much work and having to win aerial duals.

So that takes care of the on-field analysis. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to completely agree with Kristian Nicht's assessment of the team just yet, but I've seen enough to think this team could be special.

As far as the new venue goes, Lucas Oil Stadium is massive. Yet, the drapes that were put up to hide the upper sections significantly helped reduce the feel of the venue. There were open seats scattered throughout the bowl, but the visitor section was packed full, the BYB was packed full, I saw at least one section of the 200 level seats being used, and there were suites scattered around the stadium that were used. Attendance numbers in professional sports are as much of a mystery to me as why people like Justin Bieber's music, but it certainly felt like 17,000 people were there.

The massive size of the stadium creates some weird acoustics though. From my seats in Section 116, the FCC supporters were significantly louder than the BYB. Granted, they were basically aiming their sound at me, but when they chanted "we can't hear you" to the BYB, they weren't wrong. I've been to 4 years of Carroll Stadium and I know what sound the BYB can put out, but somewhere between their section and mine, the sound disappeared. I have a theory that part of the difference between the two sections was that some of the BYB noise was being lost behind them in the massive platform on the north end of the stadium, whereas the sound from FCC's section had nowhere to go but out. At times, I could also hear the Red Card Regiment when they were playing in the South End, more than I could hear the BYB. A couple dozen instruments drowned out a few thousand BYB members and FCC supporters. Odd acoustics.That being said, all that noise must have been reaching the field because I noticed a couple times that guys were having a difficult time talking to one another.

When your house is massive, you need massive art work. In that category, the BYB and Slaughterhouse-19 did not disappoint, creating one of the best tifo the team has ever seen. Thanks to local resident and actor Drew Powell (Gotham), the tifo found its way to its inspiration and provided Indy with tens of thousands of views when Millie Bobby Brown responded to his tweet.

Let me reiterate, the stadium is massive. That goes for the press as well. The game brought out a significant number more media members, from writers to photographers, and the ability to move around the stadium that was enjoyed at Carroll was impossible at Lucas Oil Stadium. At Carroll, if you wanted to move between the press box and the field, you could do so easily and really not miss any of the action. If the front office needed to run halftime stats to media personnel or address any issue that was happening, it was a couple minutes. In Lucas Oil Stadium, it took a couple minutes just to get to the elevator that would take you were you needed to go. The logistics of LOS are so much different that Carroll and the Front Office staff that I saw over the course of the night looked absolutely exhausted by the end of the night. The tasks that they have been able to do at Carroll took on lives of their own in LOS.

Finally, there wasn't a single Port-a-Potty. Concession stands that weren't housed in cargo containers. Fifty degree weather that didn't require fans being completely bundled. Absolutely no chance of not starting the game at 7 and finishing at 9. I'm still not convinced on how this works financially (I mean, did you see how many security staff are employed at LOS compared to Carroll...and the Guest Services staff...and the concession staff...and the staff running the elevators...etc.?), but there were some definite perks to being at LOS. Not to mention that we were able to witness a soccer game in Indianapolis with 17,000+ people, which was not feasible at Carroll Stadium.

It may not have been the result that everybody wanted on-the-field, but the off-field portion seemed to go significantly more smoothly than the Eleven's first attempt at a new venue 4 years ago when the team kicked off their inaugural campaign in Carroll Stadium. The glimpses we're seeing on-the-field are going to become more consistent and I think this season is going to be something special in which to participate.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This week, the Game Beckons Game Ball goes to Brad Ring. #Legend was forced into action early when Ferreira went down with an injury just before halftime. While Indy fans have grown accustomed to seeing Ring in the holding midfielder role, Ring played really well as a right back. Ouimette shifted into the centerback role vacated by Ferreira and the defense went about its business.



1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

For what it's worth, I was two sections closer to the BYB than you were, and I still found the chants of the FCC supporters much louder and clearer than those of the BYB. Given that we know how much noise the BYB can make, there's clearly something acoustically odd going on.

Like you, I see definite potential with the new squad and new coach, but there's clearly work still to be done to bring that potential to fruition. Onward.