Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Atlanta United 2 - 05.12

- Opponent: Atlanta United 2
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,034
- Final Score: 2-0 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Guerra, Watson, Saad, Braun
- Substitutions: Starikov 73' (Braun); Steinberger 83' (Guerra); Speas 90'+2' (Moses)
- Unused: Farr, Rusin, Lewis, Ring
- Goals: Watson 30'; Mitchell 55' (assist Ayoze corner)
- Bookings: Guerra 78' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

The Eleven picked up a badly needed win and kept a clean sheet to help keep within range of the playoff chase. It's hard to think of a game at this stage of the season with so many games remaining as a "must win" for them, but it definitely had that feel to it. A home game against one of the bottom teams in the standings after having a 10 day break between games. A draw or loss in this game could have been devastating to their confidence.

With Jack McInerney out due to yellow card accumulation (extended an extra game by the league), Coach Rennie was forced to use what seems like the twelfth different lineup in twelve different games. Justin Braun started up top in McInerney's place and Seth Moses made his first league start on the right side in place of Nathan Lewis. We also saw Starikov come in as a substitute in the 73rd minute, after having not played since the first game against FC Cincinnati game. With McInerney again out this coming Saturday against Toronto FC 2, I would expect a very similar lineup. I believe this is getting back to being closer to the starting lineup that Coach Rennie sees as the top eleven on the team, with Pasher and Ferreira replacing Venegas and Moses. Until then, as long as they are healthy, this will likely continue to be the starting XI.

One housekeeping note before diving into the game details, Ayoze had received a yellow card in four consecutive matches and was in danger of missing a game due to yellow card accumulation like McInerney. However, he has now played five straight games without a card and will have one of them removed due to good behavior. Given Ayoze's ability from the spot and his dual threat with Saad for free kicks, it's good to have him have a little more leeway again before being suspended.

The Eleven didn't hold a lot of possession in the game being on the short end of a nearly 60% to 40%, but they did significantly more with their possession than Atlanta did with their possession. The Eleven had 16 shots, with nearly half of them On Target, whereas ATL had just 7 shots on goal, but forced just one save from Fon Williams.

For those fans who have felt that the team has lately resorted to hopeful long passes from the defense over the midfield to the forwards, you'll be happy to know that the team had their second lowest percentage of long passes all year.

Overall, this was probably the best performance we've seen from the team. They were defensively solid, the offensive interplay was crisp, and their chances on goal were effective. Set pieces continue to be a major factor in chances on goal. The team had 7 corners in the game, which was their highest number for a game all season and one of which resulted in a goal by Mitchell in the 55th minute. Fans may want to see more goals in the run of play, but this team is definitely getting production out of their set pieces and that's a good weapon to have.

The Eleven didn't have much possession in the first half, but in the 10 to 15 minute segment where they were really dominating the game, Captain Watson found the back of the net. Watson put the Eleven on the board by perfectly timing a pass between Atlanta's backline, took a touch around the keeper, and slotted the ball home with his left foot. Watson read the pass, ran 15 yards in the same time as the defender ran 5, and took the ball to the goal. The Eleven seem to have a flair for great goals and while Watson's goal may not make Sportscenter, but it might be a more important goal for this team moving forward. It was a good goal though...
From a good win against Atlanta United 2 to the, far and way, bottom of the conference, the Eleven need a couple games against teams not sitting at the top of the table. They took care of the first team in that process, this next week they need to not look past Toronto FC 2 and turn a rough May into a potentially promising June.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Watson. He didn't make it onto the Team of the Week for no reason. He was box to box and his soccer IQ was a big part of what provided the team with their first goal of the night.



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