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.


1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

I'm trying hard not to get too frustrated. But some signs of progress would be nice.