Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Nashville SC - 05.14

- Opponent: Nashville SC
- Location: Nashville
- Attendance: 1,242
- Final Score: 3-1 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Guerra, Watson, Braun, McInerney
- Substitutions: Speas 74' (Braun); Ring 79' (McInerney); Steinberger 90'+2' (Guerra)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Lewis, Starikov
- Goals: Ouimette 6' (assist Ayoze); Braun 35' (assist Ayoze)
- Bookings: Ayoze 90' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

While wins against Atlanta United 2 and Toronto FC 2 were important for the Indy Eleven, I felt that a positive performance on the road against Nashville SC would be a much better indication that the Eleven are settling into who we thought they might be. Not only did the Eleven come away with a positive result, but they managed to defeat a team that hadn't lost since April, also against the Eleven, and kept a clean sheet for good measure.

Indy Eleven 2nd half Heatmap
Nashville had previously only allowed 1 goal at home all season and the Eleven managed to score 2 first half goals by Ouimette and Braun. With a two goal halftime lead on the road, a parked bus mentality from a Rennie coached team is about as close to a guarantee that you're going to find in life. Defend, defend, and then defend some more while looking for opportunities to counter.

Braun, and then Speas after being subbed in for Braun, were left out on an island to try and keep the ball in the offensive half of the field during the 2nd half as the rest of the team tried to catch their breath and regroup for the next wave of Nashville attacks that came in that half. Nashville had 19 shots in the game, 13 of which came after they were already down by two goals. Luckily for the Eleven, only 5 of their shots were on goal. One of those was headed off the line by Ayoze in the 66th minute and should be up for #SaveOfTheWeek even if he isn't a goalkeeper. Fon Williams had 4 saves of his own and don't be surprised if the one he had in 1st half stoppage time isn't a Save of the Week nominee. On a Nashville set piece, the ball was headed back across the goal where two Nashville players were waiting for it. A fully outstretched Fon Williams managed to get enough of his hands on it to push it under an attacking Doyle and out of danger.

Speaking of Ayoze, I honestly thought he might have turned the corner of yellow cards, but late in the 2nd half, he received yet another, this one for time wasting. This was his 5th yellow of the season, but his stretch of games not getting booked means that he had one removed due to the USL's Good Behavior initiative. So Ayoze is back at 4 yellow cards and in jeopardy of missing a game again.

Ouimette's goal was a header from a corner kick and continues the Eleven's trend of being dangerous from set pieces. Braun's goal was a prime example of putting the ball on frame and seeing what happens. It might not have been the best choice, but the confidence of a forward is a funny thing. That being said, Pickens should have done better with it and that's not a mistake you're going to see very often from him.

The Eleven only had 5 shots compared to Nashville's 19, but the Eleven were very effective with those shots. All of the major offensive statistics were skewed toward Nashville, but they were never able to unlock the bus that the Eleven parked in front of them. In addition to the mistake that Pickens made on the Braun goal, they also had moments of bad defending that nearly cost them.

Braun had a header parried away from the goal by Pickens in the 15th minute that was destined for the upper 90, where the Nashville defense didn't close out on Guerra. In the 39th minute, Venegas made a full-field, getting a shot on goal, where the Nashville players never stepped to him to stop the ball.

The Eleven didn't have a significant amount of chances, but they made the most of the ones that were given to them. Usually in a game against two good defensive teams, it's the small moments that separate them in the end. The Eleven made good on their chances, while Nashville was unable to do much with their chances.

A couple final notes:

  • Matern looked sloppy. Not the entire game, but he made some odd decisions with the ball and definitely fouled NSH in bad spots on the field.
  • Nashville made their final sub before the 70th minute, while Indy hadn't made a single sub at that point. Coach Rennie seems to have a very specific substitution plan and unless an injury occurs to affect that plan, he's sticking to it. In the past three games, the first sub for the Eleven has occurred in the 73th, 74th, and 74th minute. That's setting a plan and sticking to it.

Lastly, every time I think that Victory Field would be a more appropriate location for Indy Eleven instead of the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium, I need to remind myself to watch one of Nashville's or Louisville's games in their respective baseball stadiums. Sight lines are...less than optimal.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Ayoze would be a good choice. So would Braun and Fon Williams. Yet, I always like to reward defenders when they get on the scoreboard, so this week's Game Beckons Game Ball goes to Ouimette.


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