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


1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

A couple of thoughts about the stadium experience (you did such a great job analyzing the play that I don't have anything to add in that respect):

1. Even with reduced numbers, the BYB seemed louder with the roof and the north window open.

2. After watching the first half from my ticketed seat on the sideline, I wandered over to the BYB section for the second half. It was my first time in the BYB section, but though I am rather older than most of the people there, I had an absolute blast. The game has a much more electric feel there than in the placid sideline seats. It helped, I'm sure, that Indy had better attacking play and scored its goal in the secondd half.