Monday, April 9, 2018

Indy Eleven vs NCFC - 05.03

- Opponent: North Carolina FC
- Location: Cary, North Carolina
- Attendance: 3,169
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ring, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Pasher, Watson, Saad, Braun
- Substitutions: Steinberger 27' (Lewis - injury); Speas 67' (Braun); Rusin 90' (Mitchell)
- Unused: Farr, Moses, Guerra, Amankona
- Goals: Pasher 15' (assist Braun)
- Bookings: Mitchell 37' (Yellow); Fon Williams 71' (Yellow); Ouimette 90'+5' (RED)
- Adage goals: None

On a dreary night at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Indy Eleven roster shuffle continued due to Ferreira's injury last week against FC Cincinnati providing Indy's OG, Brad Ring, with another start and another game closer to the 100 game mark for the team. Unfortunately, that dreary night also produced two more injuries as first-time starter, and Trinidad & Tobago international, Nathan Lewis left in the 27th minute with an apparent concussion and fellow T&T resident, Carlyle Mitchell left in the 90th minute with a leg injury. Guess we'll see how severe they were in the coming days.

In his short time on the field, Lewis showed some promising moments on the right wing, but an inadvertent arm to his head cut short what was looking to be a potent attack against NCFC with Pasher pushed into the LW role and dual forwards in Saad and Braun. Less than 30 minutes after starting the game, the Eleven went from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 with Braun the lone striker. With a one goal lead on the road in rough conditions, the Eleven seemed to take their collective foot off the gas. A tactic that rarely seems to go well, but after Braun found a streaking Pasher up the left side in the 15th minute, there was the proverbial parking of the bus and the Eleven defended a significant amount of the remaining 75 minutes. To the tune of a 70/30 possession defending.

That's a long time to defend and a lot of time without the ball. That much time defending well was nearly undone when center ref Kevin Broadley awarded a penalty to NCFC in the 90'+3' for what seems to be a borderline call. Fon Williams dove to his right, putting his hands on Bekker's attempt, and salvaged the win. Minutes later, NCFC's Guillen and Indy's Ouimette were both shown red cards for an incident in the box and the game finished with a roller coaster ending.

The good news is the Eleven have won two of three games to keep themselves in the upper half of the conference while they continue to gel. The bad news is that, much like last year's team, there is a constant reshuffling of players due to injuries. Getting positive results as guys are getting healthy and guys are playing out of position is important and a good start to the season, but the preseason depth we also see with this team is already starting to get tested.

One last takeaway for me is going to be my reoccurring them of this year's reviews. Goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams. I'll preface this by saying I'm not a goalkeeper. My one season between the posts when I was a kid doesn't count towards knowing how to play the position. However, in addition to my concerns about his footwork and balls sailing on him out-of-bounds, there were moments in the game where he seemed to not know what play to make. There seemed to be too many moments where he let crosses (and NCFC had nearly 30 of them) drop instead of attacking the cross and grabbing it out of the air. With the wet conditions, I kept thinking that one of them were going to take an odd, skipping bounce and find its way off of a player, NCFC or otherwise. Fortunately, my fears were unrealized, but I'm still concerned about the fact that he seems rooted on the goal line.

The Game Beckons Game Ball:

Pasher. Moments before he scored his goal, he had another chance but was unable to get a shot off with his preferred left foot and the chance was missed. He made up for it by putting away the chance gifted to him by Braun.


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