Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Indy Eleven vs New York Red Bulls II - 05.10

- Opponent: New York Red Bulls II
- Location: New Jersey
- Attendance: 498
- Final Score: 1-4 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Rusin, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Steinberger, Ring, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions: Guerra 61' (Ring); Moses 66' (Venegas); Speas 86' (Saad)
- Unused: Farr, Amankona, Mitchell, Braun
- Goals: Saad 21' (assist Lewis)
- Bookings: Ring 30' (Yellow), Rusin 59' (Yellow), McInerney 65' (Yellow), Matern 73' (RED - Yellow 71', Yellow 73')
- Adage goals: Two

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if Indy Eleven lose in Red Bull Arena, does it really count?

Red Bull Arena has seating for 25,000 people and all 498 of the people in attendance saw what Indy Eleven fans have come to expect with this team. The pieces might be there, but they are just drastically under-performing.

From early in the broadcast (emphasis mine) about playing in the USL:
"Everybody's just trying to win championships, right? They're just trying to win. None of that really matters to the players as much as it might mean to the business side of it or the organization side of it. But having a team like this, obviously you would expect them on paper to be better in the standings than they are right now, but having a team that has this much experience and this much quality is, again, only going to increase the overall quality of the league and the competition and the development of some of the younger players in the league."

You don't have to dive too deep into the statistics to see that the Eleven were dominated in all regards in this game. The eyeball test was enough to tell you that this team seems to have been figured out and do not look the same as they did in the first few games. For a team that, on paper, has significant depth, the loss of Pasher and Starikov has resulted in a team that has difficulty breaking down defenses. The attacking pieces of the Eleven in this game, McInerney, Saad, Lewis, Steinberger, and I'll include Ring and Matern as the attacking pieces (not counting Speas who barely received minutes), they accounted for 2 shots on goal (Saad and McInerney), 1 shot off target (no surprise...Lewis), 0 successful crosses, and only 2 chances created.

The official stats credited Lewis with the assist on Saad's goal, but I'm not convinced that wasn't just a poor touch that Saad happen to be able to run onto. Maybe many of you can relate to this like me as you've aged and tried to play and you're mind is still capable of doing this things you used to be able to do, but your body just can't keep up any longer. I feel like Lewis is just the opposite. He's clearly fast, but it's like his brain can't figure out what he wants to do with the ball as his feet speed forward until he reaches the point where his feet get tangled on themselves and he losses possession or blasts the ball over the goal. I have this feeling that if he just slowed his body down a bit, his brain would let him make the correct decisions.

The offense continues to struggle and at some point the dike had to break defensively, which it did versus NYRBII, giving up 4 goals. Granted, two of those goals were scored once NYRBII had a man advantage after Matern picked up 2 yellow cards in 2 minutes, but with 40 shots on goal, they gave themselves plenty of opportunities. With just 4 shots on goal, the Eleven did not give themselves enough opportunities.

With 2 games in 4 days, this could be a rough week for the Eleven when they face 3rd in the conference Charleston Battery on Wednesday. The good news is after Wednesday, they don't play until the 9th when they face 2nd from the bottom Atlanta United 2 at home.

The Game Beckons Game Ball:



Friday, May 25, 2018

Indy Eleven supporter gets one-of-a-kind tattoo

Being a soccer supporter manifests itself in many ways. For some, it manifest itself as season tickets for themselves and family/friends. For others, it's a potentially unhealthy addiction to supporter's scarves. Some value game-worn jerseys. Some spend countless hours working on a tifo that the soccer nation recognizes. As I've discussed before, my fandom manifested itself into this site.

For Laura Mills (@laurameme), one of the ways fandom has manifested itself for her is by being one of the highly talented artists that bring you the Indy Eleven game day posters. By my record, Laura has been credited with 4 posters, all being done during last year and this season. However, in just 4 posters, she quickly jumped up my list of favorite artists.

Looking back through the list of posters from Opening Night to this past weekend's Brad Ring 100th Game poster, only 7 posters have include Victory on them where she is included somewhere other than in the Eleven's crest and 2 of those have come from the same person. Laura. Topping the list of my favorite poster of all time was Laura's "Faith and Family Night" poster from the July game against Jacksonville. It's spectacular in every way. The black background of the poster accentuates the stained glass look of the rest of the poster, playing off of the religious and church theme for the game. Key components of Indianapolis's flag, the Armada's logo, and Lady Victory herself all came together to provide one of the most visually interesting posters of the team's history. There have been some other great posters, but Laura's stained glass poster takes it a step further for me into being great art. Not surprisingly, I wasn't the only one who was enamored with her work, including a poster request from another supporter who had talked to Chuck Lofton about him wanting one. (If this article gets to Mr. Lofton, Laura would like to know she has a copy of the poster waiting for you.)
"When we (the club) first printed the poster, I remember getting pictures from friends—many of whom had seen this poster come to life over weeks of lunch breaks—as they spotted it around the city, at shops, or cafes. At the time, I thought, damn… what a cool feeling to have something I’ve made, pinned up around Indy and Carmel. Obviously, I’d put a lot of time into the design (way more than I’ll ever admit to) and that reason alone, would have made displaying it around the city rewarding enough. And I was completely content with that; it was my second poster for the club and I was happy with the finished product."
However, it's at this point where our next Indy Eleven supporter joins the story.

Where I saw the poster and thought, "that is amazing and I need to get it on my wall", Indy Eleven, Brickyard Battalion, and Slaughterhouse-19 supporter Josh Lauritsen (@jolaurit) thought, "This is it. This is the one." "The one" being the tattoo that he wanted to get for awhile to "represent his club, its supporters, and his Indiana home," which had "been such a big part of my life over the past few years and I wanted to get something to remember this time."

In the respect that I've come to expect from Indy Eleven supporters, Josh recognized the amount of work that went into the poster and instead of "outright stealing it," he got down on one knee and asked for Laura's handiwork. Okay, I fabricated the knee part because I think the idea of permanently inking someone else's art onto your body figuratively includes "until death due them part." Josh envisioned the marriage of taking Laura's art and transferring it to his arm. Josh did, also, recognize the effort involved in the poster and he did ask for permission to use it.
"Fast forward a few months (and a VERY long offseason) to this February, when I got another DM, this time, it was Josh asking if I’d mind if he used my poster for a tattoo idea he was thinking about getting. Of course my answer was "Yes!" without hesitation. I can’t really imagine a more humbling request for a designer, than having someone ask if they could put your work on their body for life! I was honored."
With his conscience clear to pursue the tattoo from the artist herself and after working through the factors of cost and artist availability, Josh went to Artistic Skin Designs, where Adamm Nicholson set about taking Laura's artwork and transferring it to Josh's arm. Intended to be a half-sleeve, Lady Victory and all her stained glassed glory were meticulously inked into Josh's arm. Josh has one other tattoo, but his newest addition far exceeds the size and scope of his first tattoo. The entire process of transferring Laura's vision onto his arm was spread out over three sessions and three months, with Josh sitting down for 2 hours each time to get the tattoo fully realized.

The process of converting the main portion of the poster into a tattoo started in March and included the line work:
When I asked Laura what she thought about another artist duplicating her work, she said that she
"was totally ok with duplicating. Josh and I didn’t really speak about the artist modifying it in any way, but I think in the end, I would have deferred to Josh. This is his body, it should be whatever he wants it to be. Tattoos are personal, I would never dictate how it should look. When I saw the line work from the first session, I was impressed with how accurate the transfer of the design was—it looked great!"
Color for the tattoo was added in two more sessions, with Phase 2 happening in April and completing the coloring process was Phase 3, which happened this past weekend before the Bethlehem Steel game:
In the comments to the above tweet, Josh stated, "Right now, it just burns." There may be other Indy Eleven fans with tattoos celebrating their fandom, but as far as I'm concerned, none of them are quite like this one from what I've seen. Being a fan of a sports team can cause emotional joys and pain as you support them through the highs and lows. Josh has now physically suffered in his support for the Eleven, the Brickyard Battalion, Slaughterhouse-19, and Indianapolis. Josh's dedication to the team was not lost on Laura and she understands the story that the two of them will share forever:
"For the most part, every tattoo has a story. Not often does a game day poster get a story beyond that of the event for which it was created. So, that is pretty cool! I have the poster framed among other gig/gameday posters I’ve designed, in my house. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever talk about it with someone seeing it for the first time, without saying….”ya know…funny story about that poster…”  So, I may not have the tattoo, but I have a story now."
For me, Laura and Josh have solidified themselves in Indy Eleven history and lore. Creating a poster with as much intricacy as Laura created and sitting through the sessions required to convert that into a tattoo of the size and scope of a stained glass Lady Victory takes serious effort and dedication. Laura and Josh have demonstrated what this team, the supporter's groups, and this City mean to them.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Bethlehem Steel - 05.09

- Opponent: Bethlehem Steel
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 9,384
- Final Score: 1-2 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Ring, Lewis, Steinberger, Saad, Braun, McInerney
- Substitutions: Rusin 46' (Mitchell - injury); Speas 72' (Lewis)
- Unused: Farr, Matern, Guerra, Amankona, Moses
- Goals: Steinberger 70' (assist Saad)
- Bookings: Mitchell 41' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

In both Indy Eleven games this week (Wednesday's US Open Cup game versus Mississippi Brilla FC and tonight's league match against Bethlehem Steel FC), the Eleven held an approximately 60/40 advantage in possession. Yet they lost both of those games by a one-goal margin with only a moderate advantage in shots. Wednesday, the Eleven held an 8 to 5 shot advantage over Brilla, while tonight the Eleven held a paltry 15 to 14 shot advantage over Bethlehem.

I keep harping on it game after game, but the Eleven just aren't getting it done in the offensive third of the field. As soon as the ball crosses into that area of the field, the team isn't getting enough productive results out of their passes and crosses. Saad played this game in the midfield, giving way to a forward pairing of Braun and McInerney. From his midfield position, Saad created only one official chance on goal, which was converted into a goal by Steinberger in the 70th minute, but he had 5 shots on goal. Braun's hold-up play was really strong and is something that this team has been missing to date, but he too only created one chance and only had one shot on goal. His forward running mate in Jack McInerney created 2 chances, but didn't have a single shot on goal. Whether it's a lack of composure, an unwillingness to take imperfect shots, or flat out taking bad shots (more on that in a minute), the Eleven are relying and surviving on their defense. Tonight, that defense let two goals by them and their inability to convert chances on the offensive end was their downfall.

In this formation, Zach Steinberger was the point in the 4-4-2 diamond. This is a good position for him so that he can distribute the ball out wide to Saad and Lewis or forward to Braun and McInerney. Steinberger has good vision and good foot skills to lead the attack from that spot. Yet, he spent a large amount of his time tracking back well into the defensive half of the field to get the ball. Receiving the ball that deep tends to negate any attempts to get the ball to the wings or the forwards and forced him to pass back to the defense. Given that Brad Ring was back in his normal holding midfielder role for this game, I would have like to see Steinberger remain further up the field and allow Ring and the back 4 to do their jobs. Steinberger finished his one chance in Bethlehem's box in the 70th minute, bringing the Eleven back level with Bethlehem after falling behind on a goal from Moar in the 60th minute.

You may have noticed that I didn't mention the other winger in any of the above analysis. At some point, you have a call it like it is and Lewis is the least effective player in the midfield. Tonight, he was absolutely atrocious. He ended his 72 minutes of action with 0 chances created, 3 unsuccessful crosses, and 2 shots so far off target that they end up in the stands, requiring absolutely zero effort from Bethlehem's keeper, McGuire. That doesn't even include the time when Lewis was wide open streaking down the left side of the field and as he went to cross (or shoot) from just inside the 18 yard box, his right foot bumped the ball and he sent the ball fluttering into the sponsor signs behind the goal. There must be something that he's showing Coach Rennie during training that resembles a guy who has played 16 times for his country, but his execution tonight was poor.

Speaking of poor execution... After the Eleven celebrated getting on the board with Steinberger's goal in the 70th minute and Speas replaced Lewis in the 72nd minute, they proceeded to give up a 30-yard "adage" goal by Chiluya in the 74th minute. I've now watched it several times and I'm convinced that Fon Williams never lost track of the ball and had a clear vision of it (see image to the right). The only thing I can figure from the replay, is that it took a bounce off the turf just before him and he misjudged the bounce. Bethlehem was able to put more shots on goal (7) than any other team this season, forcing Fon Williams to make a season high amount of saves (5), but the two that made it through seemed like he was in good enough position to save them.

Remember in the 2016 season when the Mike was a fortress and the Eleven never lost a single game at home? Lucas Oil Stadium may be a cathedral to American sports, but the Eleven have not been able to reap any benefits from their home crowd. The Eleven have a 2W-3L-0D record at home. They have also scored 6 of their 8 goals in LOS, but have allowed all 7 of the league goals scored against them to happen at home. The fortress of the Mike from two seasons ago has given way to the fragility of a house of cards.

The Eleven have two more games in May against teams in playoff contention before getting a five game stretch in June and early July against teams sitting outside the top half of the Eastern Conference, culminating in a July 4th clash against Ottawa and Captain Falvey's return to Indy.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I think I'm going to give the Game Beckons Game Ball to Braun. It's nice to see him get 90 minutes and his hold-up play was well done despite being hammered by defenders all game.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Mississippi Brilla FC - 2018 U.S. Open Cup

- Opponent: Mississippi Brilla FC
- Location: Clinton, Mississippi
- Attendance: ??
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ring, Rusin, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Amankana, Guerra, Braun, Speas
- Substitutions: McInerney 70' (Moses); Saad 70' (Amankona); Steinberger 85' (Matern)
- Unused: Farr, Venegas, Lewis
- Goals: NONE!!!
- Bookings: Ring 78' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None


I was going to put my normal effort into this game, but the Eleven didn't, so I'm not. If you want to consider this the Eleven's "B" team, fine. Professional "B" teams SHOULDN'T LOSE TO AMATEURS! Yeah, I know. The Cosmos Charlotte Independence lost to Reading United Ocean City Nor'easters.

Professional "B" teams SHOULDN"T LOSE TO AMATEURS!

The Bucks Mississippi Brilla FC clearly read the scouting report. Or my recent posts. Indy's offense goes as Braun goes over the top and not through the midfield. As a result, Braun the Eleven routinely found himself themselves surrounded by a clash of Bucks Brilla FC with nowhere to go but go without the ball. The Eleven managed some shots, even a couple off the woodwork, but the Bucks Brilla FC always had numbers behind the ball. They had a plan and it worked.

Michigan Brilla FC didn't parked the bus in the second half. Yet, Tthere was always at least 10 players behind the ball through most of the half and countered quickly and effectively, scoring off a set piece in the 82nd minute.

It was nice being able to watch the game, but watching the feed must be what it's like for my grandmother to watch games. Slow to react to the speed of play and always a little blurry.

Oh yeah, professional teams SHOULDN'T LOSE TO AMATEURS!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - 05.08

- Opponent: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- Location: Pittsburgh
- Attendance: 3,123
- Final Score: 0-0 D
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ring, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Steinberger, Saad, Braun, McInerney
- Substitutions: Rusin 35' (Mitchell - injury); Guerra 62' (Matern - injury)
- Unused: Farr, Amankona, Moses, Speas, Watson
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Ring 77' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

Nil-nil. Points on the road. Clean sheet. All good things.

However, I keep waiting for this team to have an offensive explosion and I'm starting to wonder if it is ever going to happen. With the talent up front, it would seem like it should happen, but the final third continues to be the issue for this team. The Eleven had half of the shots of Pittsburgh, which makes back-to-back games with that kind of stat. Worse yet, though, is that not a single one of their 7 shots were considered to be on target. Zero shots on target, most of which came from outside the box.

I wish I could find that missing piece, but I'm not sure from where it's going to come. I stated after the Louisville game that the "Eleven are going to need to get better in that part of the field against the best teams in the league and I have to wonder if Braun up top with Saad or McInerney would provide a better target forward who can then distribute." As if Coach had read my comment and was looking to show me how that would work, the starting lineup included all three of those guys. Unfortunately, Braun finished the game with more clearances (2) than chances created (0).

Additionally, as good as the team looks in stretches with possession and passing, so often in this game they resorted to blasting balls over the top. 109 of their 423 passes were considered "long," which translates to just under 26%; a high for the season. As of today (before Saturday's games), the Eleven sit tied at 14 points with NYRBII and Charleston. Of the top 7 leagues in the conference, the Eleven are the only ones who have not cracked double digits in goals scored. Until they figure out a way to get the ball to the forwards in better methods than blast and chase way and put more shots on goal, it's a good thing they're one of the stingier defenses in the conference. Luckily, the leaders in the conference haven't yet managed to pull away from the rest of the pack yet, so the Eleven are still in acceptable shape at this point in the season.

Coach Rennie has also seemed hesitant to use subs recently too. He made two subs this game. Rusin came on in the 35th minute for an injured Mitchell and Guerra game on in the 62nd minute for an injured Matern. Five other players stayed on the bench. It's almost as if he's saying that if you're a starter, he's going to ride the lineup until the wheels fall off.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Let's go with Braun this game. Like I mentioned earlier, he didn't create any chances, but this was his first game with a full ninety minutes. Maybe that means he's now feeling like he's back to 100% and we'll get to see some more out of him.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 05.07

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 9,008
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Steinberger, Watson, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions: Braun 73' (McInerney); Moses 83' (Lewis); Ring 90'+1' (Venegas)
- Unused: Farr, Speas, Rusin, Guerra
- Goals: Ayoze 78' (PK)
- Bookings: McInerney 67' (Yellow); Ayoze 79' (Yellow); Braun 90'+2' (Yellow); Fon Williams 90'+7' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

This is one of those games where my eyeball test, at first, seems like it differs from what the stats tell me. While watching, the Eleven seemed like the better team for good stretches, holding possession, and working the ball towards the Louisville goal. However, my first look at the stats told me that Louisville City FC doubled the Eleven in nearly all attacking stats.

"Upon further review" though, the stats also tell me that the Eleven had the advantage in possession (53% to 47%), were more accurate with their passes (70% to 63.8%), and were more accurate with their passing in the opponents' half (58% to 51%). So my eyeball test panned out, at least in those regards.

So why did LCFC have so many more attacking opportunities than the Eleven? The stats, or more specifically the chalkboard, shows a little bit of that answer too. The Eleven weren't as effective in the final third with their passing. Everything seemed cleaner in this game versus the game on Wednesday, but the final third shows a lot more incomplete passes and crosses than effective ones. The team was getting themselves into good positions, but weren't able to capitalize on them from reasonable ranges and air-mailed a few crosses over the endline.

For now, I'm going to attribute their ineffective final third to the fact that LCFC has a swarming defense, providing very little space to operate, particularly that close to their own goal. The Eleven are going to need to get better in that part of the field against the best teams in the league and I have to wonder if Braun up top with Saad or McInerney would provide a better target forward who can then distribute. Though, as we've seen for much of this young season, which one of those two you pull off to be able to insert Braun is a difficult decision. Saad's free kick ability from anywhere inside 35 yards makes me want to keep him on and McInerny's physicality keeps defenders on their toes. We've seen that the Braun/Saad forward pairing with Lewis/Pasher winger lineup work really well at North Carolina, so maybe it's something that Coach Rennie uses again depending on the opponent.

We can also see that a good portion of LCFC's attack came as a result of second half subs. Nine of their 13 shots came in the second half, with 5 of those 9 coming from Ownby and Spencer and 2 of those happening in second half stoppage time; later than the 90'+7'. Ownby came on at halftime and Spencer came on in the 66th minute. Spencer's header in the 90'+8' mark that went just wide of Fon Williams' post was the last play of the game and was one of LCFC's better chances on goal. Had he connected, it would have been a heartbreaking loss for the Eleven after going ahead in the 78th minute when Ayoze connected from the penalty spot for the second time in as many games.

The Eleven were forced to scramble late in the game when Venegas appeared to be injured late in the game, bringing on Brad Ring for his 100th official appearance in an Indy Eleven jersey. Unfortunately, that was the team's third and final substitution, which became an issue when Mitchell exited the game in the 90'+4' due to concussion protocol. Despite his pleas to be sent back in, the Eleven medical staff were not going to allow it and the team played a man down for the final 4 minutes of the game. Ayoze also had an injury during that same stretch of play and may not have been at full strength for the closing minutes. However, the team weathered LCFC's final push and provided City with their first loss of the season.

Despite being officially credited with playing a single minute in the game, #Legend Brad Ring became the second Indy Eleven player to reach the 100 game milestone. I'm guessing that wasn't how he pictured it would happen, but he seems to take a very pragmatic approach to the milestone. When asked about it after Wednesday's game (albeit after a loss where he wasn't happy with the way the team played), he stated:
"I think it just shows commitment to a club. It shows longevity. Things of that nature. I don't think it's anything too crazy, but something that I'm proud of to be able to be here for my fifth season now. You know I got a lot of love for this organization and this city and fanbase so it's a cool milestone."
He might not have thought it was "anything too crazy" on Wednesday night, but as I look back at the roster of this team from its inception until now, the fact that there is a guy on the team who was there from the start, it's an absolute miracle as far as I'm concerned. Don Smart may be considered Mr. Indy, but that's only because Ring's known as the Legend around here. Congratulations Brad on a well deserved milestone.

Final note from the game. After the 65th minute, referee Jon Freeman started handing out yellow cards like they were tic-tacs. Six of the games 7 cards came after that part with 3 of them being handed out in stoppage time. One of those yellow cards was given to Ayoze in the 79th minute for excessive celebration following his penalty kick goal. That's important because Ayoze has not received yellow cards in the last four games. He picked up yellow cards in the 70th minute vs Nashville, the 32nd minute vs Charlotte, the 88th minute vs Cincinnati, and the 79th minute vs LCFC. This becomes big deal because of yellow card accumulation.

Since the Eleven are in a new league, here's a primer on the yellow card accumulation rule from the USL Media Guide:
Player Caution Accumulation
Players exceeding the caution accumulation penalty point plateau(s) will begin serving their suspension in their next match.

Players accumulating the following number of caution/yellow cards throughout the season will be sanctioned as follows:
Five cautions: one-game suspension and $200 fine
Eight total cautions: one-game suspension and $300 fine
11 total cautions: two-game suspension and $400 fine
14 total cautions: three-game suspension and $500 fine 
So Ayoze is one yellow card away from forcing Coach Rennie into a lineup change at left back and having his wallet be a little lighter. Fortunately for the team, they have shown that they play Pasher at left back.

Also, fortunately for players, the league also has a good behavior incentive:
Good Behavior Incentive
A player will automatically reduce his yellow card accumulation total by one yellow card each time he appears in five consecutive league games without a card or supplemental discipline.
McInerney playing with a bandage after an aerial dual.
Something Indy fans have seen before.
Given Ayoze's propensity for acquiring yellow cards (4 in 5 games), I think the odds are higher for him to get a fifth yellow than they are for him to go five more games in a row to reduce his card accumulation total down to 3. Some of his teammates, however, have been better behaved. Matern and Steinberger both received yellow cards early in the season, but have passed the five consecutive threshold and have reduced their total back down to zero. Similarly, if Mitchell can go card free during this coming Friday's game against Pittsburgh, his total will also have been reduced back down to zero. Ferreira picked up yellow cards in the first two games, but hasn't actually played in the subsequent five games so his total remains at 2. Jack McInerney is the next player in yellow card accumulation danger having picked up 3 cards. He just spaces them out more than Ayoze.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Despite his 4th yellow card in 4 games, I'm still going to give the Game Beckons Game Ball to Ayoze. He was solid throughout the game. I don't know how well he takes a penalty kick going to the right side of the goal, but going to the left is a thing of beauty. It might not matter if that's the only way he can go and that keepers guess that way if he continues to put it in the location and with the power that he showed on Wednesday and Saturday. Those were unstoppable penalty kicks.


Might make this a Caption Contest (without prizes)

Another Caption Contest contender

Yet another Caption Contest contender


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Indy Eleven vs FC Cincinnati - 05.06

- Opponent: FC Cincinnati
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 8,079
- Final Score: 2-3 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ring, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Steinberger, Guerra, Pasher, Speas, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions: Lewis 60' (Steinberger); Watson 60' (Speas); Braun 78' (Guerra)
- Unused: Farr, Matern, Rusin, Venegas
- Goals: McInerney 24'; Ayoze 31' (PK)
- Bookings: Ayoze 88' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

It's starting to look like the Eleven are going to have to win games in the first half and then hold on during the second half. In six games this year, the Eleven have scored six goals. None of which have come in the second half of any game. In this game, both teams were awarded questionable penalty kicks and both teams capitalized on those kicks. FC Cincinnati's PK came early in the game, putting the visitors on the board in just the 7th minute of action.

Indy fought back to level by the 24th minute when Ring put a ball in the middle of the field that FCC's Walker misplayed, allowing McInerney to run onto it for a shot on goal. His initial attempt was parried away by Richey, but only as far as the 6-yard box where McInerney had continued his run and slotted the rebound home under the outstretched Richey. The Eleven were awarded their own penalty kick when Saad was deemed to have received a rough challenge inside the box. Just as Walker had done with FCC's penalty kick, Ayoze sent the ball in the opposite direction as the keeper and the Eleven found themselves up a goal after having been down a goal early.

FCC rounded out the first half scoring with Corbin Bone putting a ball between a couple defenders that McLaughlin ran onto, shot from outside the 18, and one hopped just in front of, and under, Fon Williams. After 45 minutes, the teams went into the locker room in what was probably a well deserved draw. Both teams had one legit goal and one goal for each from the penalty spot that could be debated as having been rewarded for flops by Welshman and Saad.

FCC capped the scoring in the 55th minute from another shot outside the 18 that found its way just inside the post and then nearly had a fourth goal in the 57th minute when Fon Williams was forced to push a ball over the crossbar after Walker unleashed from just under 30 yards away. After that, the Eleven were forced to chase the game and the first subs for Indy took place moments later when Lewis and Watson entered for Steinberger and Speas, respectively. Braun rounded out the subs for Guerra and the bulk of the starting midfield finished the game on the sidelines.

With 3 games in a week, both FCC and the Eleven employed starting lineups that were different than we've seen recently and definitely different than when the teams met in March. By my count, FCC started 5 guys that didn't even see time in the first game, while the Eleven started just one player who didn't see time in the first game. However, the Eleven's starting lineup significantly shuffled the midfield for this game and the midfield seemed to be a weak point in this game for them.

Notably, and confusingly for me, Coach Rennie started Pasher on the right side and Soony Saad on the left. Guerra and Steinberger more as defensive mids, allowing Speas to serve as the playmaker. Pasher made it to around the 35th minute before Coach Rennie swapped him with Saad and I'm confused about why he started them that way. As Coach told us before, Pasher's defensive ability and his ability to take on guys is solid. However, and this is key for me, Pasher drastically favors his left foot and playing him on the right means that he is going to turn the ball back into the middle to create any chance from the right side. As a defender, you force him to the endline and away from the middle, and you've effectively taken Pasher out of the play. Until he shows he can serve some balls with his right foot, he's going to become easier to defend when playing on the right. On the left is a completely different matter.

On a night when Lucas Oil Stadium had the roof open and a view of the City through the north window, the Eleven had some chances at the end of the game, including a free kick strike from Saad that was eerily similar to the goal he scored against Nashville, but couldn't find the equalizer. The Eleven and FCC have now played twice early in the season, both in Indy, and the Eleven didn't manage a single point. Fortunately, the team can't dwell on the defeat as conference leading Louisville City FC comes to Indianapolis for a noon start on Saturday.
"It's disappointing tonight, but it's only two days before we play again so we have a chance to bounce back. It's really one of the first games this season where I was disappointed with too many things tonight. I think every game we've played this season we've improved, we got better. So we need to put this one behind us and bounce back and, obviously, no better way to do that than against Louisville on Saturday." - Coach Rennie

The Game Beckons Game Ball

For me, despite giving up two legit goals, the Game Beckons Game Ball still goes to Brad Ring and Carlyle Mitchell. After the game, Brad said,
"Getting two goals, for us, should be enough to get some kind of result so it's on the defense. As a unit. As a team. Not just the four of us, not just the goalie, it's on all of us collectively. We can't allow three goals."
So even though Ring wasn't happy with their play, I didn't find too many problems with his play. Mitchell didn't track well on FCC's second goal, but between the two of them, they stifled a significant number of attacks from FCC before they even turned into shots or crosses. Ring was credited with a scoring chance and I believe that was the one that ended up being McInerney's goal. The stats indicate Mitchell lost more aerial duels than he won, but that seems incorrect to me. Regardless, given the rest of the play, these two stood out for me.