Friday, June 1, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Charleston Battery - 05.11

- Opponent: Charleston Battery
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 8,070
- Final Score: 3-3 D
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Rusin, Mitchell, Ayoze, Ring, Lewis, Guerra, Steinberger, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions: Braun 65' (Lewis); Watson 81' (Steinberger)
- Unused: Farr, Amankona, Venegas, Moses, Speas
- Goals: Saad 43' (assist Ring); Ayoze 86' (PK); Ayoze 90'+3'
- Bookings: Ring 25' (Yellow); Mitchell 67' (Yellow); McInerney 78' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

I think there is a point in every single season of the Indy Eleven where I have referenced the scene in "White Men Can't Jump" when Gloria is telling Billy Hoyle about the significance of results. I think this game is a good time for it:
"Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs."
At the 88th minute of the game, I put my notes away so that I could get from my seat to the field level to talk to Coach Rennie. When my family asked me why I put them away, I told them that the game was over. I honestly thought Ayoze's penalty kick goal minutes before was going to be the closing action of the night, with the Eleven giving up a lead and then stealing one back late to at least get a draw out of it. I never expected that he would score a 2nd goal in stoppage time to give the team a chance to steal a late win. I definitely never expected that they would then let Charleston score a minute later to finish the game with a draw. Four goals were scored after the 80-minute mark, two in the death throes of the match.
"You know I think it's easy to forget it was 3-3. It feels like it was a loss because we lost that goal so late... From a coaching perspective, obviously the defending side of it was disappointing and especially with 1 minute to go to not see the game out, I'm very disappointed with that." - Coach Rennie
As I read through the Match Notes provided by the teams before the game, I noticed a couple of key facts about Charleston that I figured might end up in this recap. The first being that Ataulla Guerra had scored 6 goals on the season. By the end of the game, Guerra had added to that total, scoring Charleston's 2nd goal that set off the goal scoring spree, but also providing the assist for the final goal of the game in the 90'+4'. Guerra finished with 1 goal, 1 shot on target, 1 shot off target, 1 assist, & 2 chances created.

The second fact I wrote down as that Charleston had scored 11 of their 16 goals in the second halves of their games, with 5 of those goals coming in the last 20 minutes of the 2nd half. Of the 5 goals they had scored in the first half, 4 of them had come in the final 20 minutes of the 1st half. So Charleston clearly work to close out halves. All three of the goals against the Eleven came in the 2nd half, with two of them happening in the final 20 minutes. Finishing games is a good way to have my third note from the Match Notes.

Charleston came into the game on a 10 game unbeaten streak across all competitions; 8 of those games were in league play and the other two were in U.S. Open Cup play. From my interactions with Coach Rennie to date, he has routinely said something that lets me know that he is an analytics guy because he is aware of those kinds of details. When asked about the Eleven's goals all coming from set pieces (a trend this season) and not the run of play, he indicated:
"No it's going to come. I think if you don't score, you get criticized and if you score a certain way, then you get people looking to criticize you for that. We scored three great goals. Two world class goals and that's part of it. In the last, I think, 10 or 11 games, Charleston haven't lost and they haven't lost any goals from open play so that was not specific to us. The only goals they've lost, and there weren't many, were on set plays."
I guess it's a good thing that the Indy Eleven can score from set plays. World class set play goals.
Ayoze's free kick goal should have been the game winner, yet the roller coaster ride of stoppage time was completely undone because the Eleven's defense didn't stop a ball and left a guy running completely free in the middle of the field. A win turned into a draw turned into a loss turned into a draw turned into a win turned into a draw. I'm not sure what organic globule Gloria would extract from the game, but Coach Rennie and I are in agreement that the team's ability to close out the game is disappointing.
"I think I'm more concerned and disappointed about the way we didn't see the game out. I think that was what really frustrated me and also the mistakes we made in losing the goals."
Where Coach and I differ on the game is moving forward. I don't see the offense getting any more consistent nor consistently providing dangerous attacks that aren't part of free kicks or penalty kicks. I continue to be frustrated with the way Lewis is playing. There's significant moments where the midfield is bypassed by hopeful balls over them from the defense with an immediate loss of possession happening from those passes. Against Charleston, the midfield consisted of Lewis, Guerra, Steinberger, and Saad and the four guys routinely swapped positions on the field between left and right. I never saw it adversely affect Charleston's defense. Coach Rennie feels differently than me on where the team is at right now:
"I'm excited about where we go from here. May's been a rough month for us, mainly because of that, number of games and the number of guys unavailable, but we're still in there and come June, we'll get up and running a bit better."
His biggest concern, and what he sees as the biggest issue has been the injuries:
"I mean a lot of these guys I thought they would all be back by now, but they're not. So we have a little break between now and the next game and I'm hoping some of these guys will get back, and most importantly, stay back and the other guys will stay healthy. I've never ever experienced anything like this with so many players being out...we've not once this season, not one game had the same lineup in back-to-back. So that's, as a coach, something you have to try and get. Obviously, you're going to injuries, but the number we've had is unbelievable. There's guys playing with injuries. There's guys on the bench that aren't even going to be able to come on."
So if you've been wondering why the team hasn't been using the full compliment of substitutions lately, there's your answer. Oh, and if you're having issues keeping guys healthy and can't keep a lineup consistent, getting red cards and yellow card accumulation doesn't help. When we see the Eleven next versus Atlanta United 2, they will be without McInerney who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will be suspended due to accumulation. Honestly, he's a red card threat most of the time, and he might actually be fortunate to not get more games added to his suspension once the league looks at the replay. I have a feeling he's going to get more games to watch from the sideline. Regardless, that will make back-to-back games that the team will be without a regular starter because of discipline issues. Ayoze needs to make it through the ATL game without a yellow card, otherwise, he too will miss a game due to accumulation and the Eleven will miss out on a great penalty taker.

The Game Beckons Game Ball:

I'm going to give it to both Ayoze and Saad for their world class goals, one of which made Sportscenter's Top 10. Best options for offense right now and both guys delivered.



1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

Rennie certainly talks a good game. And there's no doubt that injuries have hurt the Eleven (particularly Pasher's). At the same time, his comments bother me. I remember reading an interview with Rennie before the season began and thinking, it's too polished, too pat. It made me uneasy then, and it makes me more uneasy now. Anyone who has been watching this team for the last month can see that there are problems extending beyond injuries. If Rennie can't see it, he's either delusional or a really bad coach.

Weren't his teams supposed to be defense-oriented? That might explain the difficulty in moving the ball forward in a coherent manner. It does not explain all the goals Indy has surrendered
in recent games.