Saturday, July 28, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Bethlehem Steel - 05.20

- Opponent: Bethlehem Steel
- Location: Bethlehem
- Attendance: 2,150
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Pasher, Moses, Watson, Guerra, Steinberger, Saad, Starikov
- Substitutions: Ferreira 39' (Pasher - injury); McInerney 72' (Saad)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Matern, Rusin, Amankona, Speas
- Goals: McInerney 86' (assist Steinberger)
- Bookings: Guerra 8' (Yellow); Ferreira 43' (Yellow); Starikov 72' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

With an injured Ayoze, it wasn't surprising that Pasher found his way back into the starting defense. Having played 21 minutes in the last 8 games, it was a complete surprise to me that Steinberger found his way into the starting eleven. By my count, for the first time in 14 games, Matern or Ring were not sitting in the defensive midfielder position in front of the back four. The lineup was surprising to me, but it was successful.

With the midfield and forward lineup of Moses, Guerra, Watson, Steinberger, Saad, and Starikov, I thought this might be play more like a 4-4-2, but it really didn't go that way. Guerra took over the role of holding mid, Watson and Steinberger in the middle of the park directing traffic, Saad and Moses working the wings, and Starikov playing up top and the routine 4-1-4-1 lineup we've been seeing materialized.

Moses and Starikov seem to have developed a good rapport and it looks like Moses may have overtaken Lewis as the preferred right midfielder. He might have a little less speed and a little less flair for the dramatic, but he maintains possession and Lewis' struggles have placed him on the bench. McInerney's propensity to pick up yellow cards and Starikov's health looks to have place McInerney out of the starting lineup as well. Sometimes that motivates competitors more than anything and McInerney seems like a guy that doesn't shy a way from a fight.

Which is why, when given his chance in the late minutes of the game, McInerney found the only clear spot in the box and clinically headed a Steinberger corner kick down and out of reach of McGuire. While McInerney celebrated getting back onto the score sheet, Bethlehem defenders were left pointing fingers about who was to blame for leaving McInerney open enough to even get close to enough to get his head on the ball. Prolific goalscorers will do that to defenders.

In the third game of a four game road trip and a break until the 5th when they travel to Louisville City FC, the Eleven needed the win after coming up empty in the first two games. They waited until the end to get it done, despite good chances from Saad that nearly, but a win helps keep them in the playoff race.

One more item of note was the return of Reiner Ferreira to the lineup. Ferreria wasn't listed on injury report, which by itself was a major step, but he also made it back onto the team sheet. Unfortunately for the team, Ferreira's return was at the expense of Pasher who left the game in the 39th minute with an injury. Ferreira slotted into the center of the defense with Mitchell and Ouimette slid to the left in Pasher's play. Ouimette is playing well, but does not bring the same effectiveness of going forward that Pasher brings nor Ayoze's set piece ability. In what looked like a wealth of riches at left back just a couple weeks ago suddenly looks like it could be a struggle until Ayoze and Pasher return.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

McInerney. Sometimes a forward needs to see a ball go into the goal to build their confidence and maybe this goal sparks that in Jack.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 05.19

- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Tampa Bay
- Attendance: 5,378
- Final Score: 3-1 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Pasher, Matern, Starikov, Watson, Guerra, McInerney, Speas
- Substitutions: Ring 61' (Matern); Moses 68' (Guerra)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Ayoze, Rusin, Amankona, Steinberger
- Goals: Starikov 20' (assist Pasher)
- Bookings: Venegas 39' (Yellow); Matern 49' (Yellow); Ring 90'+2' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

It's hard to win games on the road in any professional league. The Eleven have been successful at doing that this year, but it's really hard to win games on the road when you give up two defensive mistake goals in the first 20 minutes. The Eleven have not shown that they can routinely score a large number of goals and giving up a goal in the 12th minute on a counterattack and then a second in the 19th minute on a Venegas "clearance" that bounced off the face of Hristov meant that they were going to have to chase the game for 80% of the game. At some point, they were going to have to open up more and it was ultimately what caused them to concede a third goal. Scoring a goal in the 20th minute helped some, but they were still chasing the game.

I'm starting to get frustrated hearing announcers continue to comment about Coach Rennie having only 3 weeks to put the team together and that they need time to gel. At what point in a 34 game season does it become obvious that it isn't going to happen and the team that we see is the team that it's going to be. I think 19 games into the season has to be that point.

There's no doubt that not having Saad and Braun as options hurts this team. Speas up top by himself with McInerney in midfield is not going to get it done. Other than the countless times that the announcers mispronounced McInerney's name, can you recall many instances where he was making an actual impact on this game? He only had 20 passes and managed to create just 1 chance on goal. With Saad and Braun out, Ayoze and Pasher need to be on the field at the same time.

Venegas was a liability in this game. He has Pasher's propensity to go forward without Pasher's constant hustle to get back. Though I do put some of the blame on Mitchell for the first Rowdies' goal. He got pulled toward the ball when he didn't need to and left the runner alone behind him. Venegas should have been guarding him, but even though he wasn't there, Mitchell shouldn't have left him while Ouimette had the ball covered.

The Eleven have two more away games before returning home, Thursday against Bethlehem Steel and then Louisville FC on August 5th. They would have liked to get positive results out of at least 2 of this 4 game road trip, but that is going to be difficult at this point. After that the Eleven have a 10-day break before resuming August 15th on what I feel is their hardest stretch of games of the year and will go a long way to determining if they make the playoffs. Not necessarily because of the teams to be played, but because of the number of games and the home/away travel in the beginning of it:
Wed Aug 15 vs NCFC
Sat Aug 18 @Ottawa
Wed Aug 22 vs TFCII
Sat Aug 25 @ ATL2
Wed Aug 29 vs PGH
Sat Sept 1 vs RCH
Wed Sept 5 vs NYRBII

Brutal scheduling. Home/Away/Home/Away/Home in a two-week span. With that run of games, don't be surprised if we don't see Amankona make an appearance (one of three players to not yet see time this season; backup GKs Farr and Lundgaard the other two...neither of who can seem to stay healthy).

The Eleven needed to get points in Tampa Bay and made the flight home empty-handed. A mid-week game gives them a chance to come back from Bethlehem with some points before another USL scheduling break before Louisville.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Pasher and Starikov. Their hustle was unmatched by anyone else.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Charleston Battery - 05.18

- Opponent: Charleston Battery
- Location: Charleston
- Attendance: 2,094
- Final Score: 2-1 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Moses, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Starikov, Watson, Guerra, Pasher, Speas
- Substitutions: Saad 55' (Pasher); Steinberger 77' (Guerra); McInerney 82' (Speas)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Ring, Rusin, Lewis
- Goals: Starikov 58' (assist Speas)
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: None

This game was always going to be difficult to match the excitement of May's 3-3 thriller between these two teams at Lucas Oil Stadium. Unlike the game in May where 4 of the 6 goals were crammed into the final 10 minutes + stoppage time, today's three goals were spread out over 62 minutes of game time with Charleston opening and closing the goal scoring.

Charleston got on the board first in the 22nd minute when Indy's defense failed to quickly shut down Wild, who proceeded to take a long-range shot over Fon Williams. At times during the first half, the Eleven looked exactly like a team that was playing its fifth game in a 15 day span. Content to hold the ball, pass it (slowly) around the defense in their own half, and not make a lot of advances into the final third of the field, as indicated in the 1st half distribution graph. Charleston's graph for the 1st half isn't significantly different, but they were able to score on one of their few chances.

The Eleven looked like a different team in the 2nd half, with Charleston being content to absorb pressure and counter and Indy chasing the game. When Coach Rennie utilized his first substitute of the night, inserting Saad for Pasher in the 55th minute, Starikov pushed even further up the field and was able to beat the offside trap to put Indy on the board in the 58th minute. Sta-REE-cough (not the correct pronunciation of his name, but repeatedly said by play-by-play announcer Poppy Miller) received a chipped ball from Speas and with a good bit of skill, deftly popped the ball over Cooper as he left his line to close down the space.

Just a couple of minutes after Indy scored, they nearly had the go ahead goal when Mitchell put a ball over the top that Saad was able to run onto. His first shot was blocked by Cooper, but the ball bounced back up and into Saad's path. His follow-up shot, from a tight angle, was cleared off the line by Charleston. A goal at that point might have provided a different result on the night as the game continued to open up after the Eleven scored as both teams looked for the winner.

However, the game was mostly played in the middle of the field, with each goalkeeper only being required to make 2 saves in the game. Charleston's winner, scored in the 84th minute by Wild, was a result of a counterattack after an Indy free kick along the sideline. While Moses was back defending, he never really shut down Wild and his shot was low, hard, and bounced just before Fon Williams, making it a difficult save. At that point in the game, the goal was a bit against the run of play.

The Eleven now have 10 days without a game before playing in Tampa Bay. I haven't heard yet on the severity of Venegas's and Braun's injuries, but after the stretch of games the team has endured the past couple of weeks, a week and a half break will allow guys to recharge and hopefully get healthy.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Nobody stands out for me as having a spectacular game above everybody else so I'll give it to the team's 12 player to score a goal this season in Starikov.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Indy Eleven - 2018 Season halfway point

I made this a Twitter thread earlier today, but thought I would formalize it as a post too...

Now that Indy Eleven are half way thru the USL season, I thought it would be a good time to summarize the season (in the Eastern Conference) with a graphics thread.

Cincinnati & Pittsburgh have begun to pull away from a very crowded middle, but those middle teams do have 1 or 2 games in hand on FCC. The bottom is not crowded...Toronto.

Indy have bounced around the rankings, as low as 10th; as high as 4th, while Tampa Bay has the worst downward trend at the moment.
Tampa Bay was as high as 1st early on, but have slid to 11th.
Pittsburgh is on the opposite trajectory.

Indy longest losing streak is 2; longest win streak is 3.

Charlotte, Charleston, & Louisville are tied for the longest win streak - 4.
Cincinnati has the most wins - 10
Pittsburgh owns the longest undefeated streak - 10
Pittsburgh has the fewest loses - 1
Toronto owns the longest losing streak - 8

Indy have had 11 different players score goals, with nearly 60% coming from the left side of the goal.
Conversely, 56% of the goals scored against them have been from the right side.
Indy & opponents have each scored 3 goals from the spot.
Indy has not given up a brace.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Charlotte Independence - 05.17

- Opponent: Charlotte Independence
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 9,858
- Final Score: 2-1 W
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Ring, Moses, Watson, Saad, Braun
- Substitutions: Speas 10' (Braun - injury); Starikov 17' (Venegas - injury); Guerra 90' (Ring - injury)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Pasher, Rusin, McInerney
- Goals: Speas 62' (assist Starikov); Mitchell 70' (assist Ayoze)
- Bookings: None
- Adage goals: One

Before the match reached the 20 minute mark, the Eleven were forced to burn two of their three substitutions as Justin Braun and Kevin Venegas both left with hamstring injuries. Venegas was the first to be affected, but managed to hang on until the substitutes were ready to enter. Braun was not as fortunate and immediately requested the replacement as he grabbed his leg from the Lucas Oil Stadium endzone. Ben Speas entered the game for Braun in a "like-for-like" substitution, though with different skill sets. Speas isn't able to handle the same kind of hold-up play as Braun, but Speas did a respectable job all game of being the man up top. Starikov was the substitute for Venegas and when I asked Coach Rennie why he chose to pull Moses back from his midfield spot given that Ring was already on the field and had played the right back in the early part of the season, he stated:
"Because we wanted to get a forward player on, so we felt like if we kept Brad Ring where he was, we could move Seth to a defensive position and then we could put Eugene on. So it worked out really well for us. It's not always a masterstroke, but in this game it did work out well. And I actually thought Seth did a really good job. I think he defended well, he broke forward well, he showed great energy. In the end, it worked out to do the rotation like that because Brad Ring did well for us in midfield."
Charlotte fields two players with 8 goals on the season (one of those now has 9 with Herrera scoring in the 50th minute), plus a third player in Zayed that Indy fans know can find the cheese. As a result, the starting lineup was heavy on defensive midfielders for that reason, so with the forced substitutions happening so early, the coaches didn't want to move away from those tactics at that point. The midfield was constantly in flux with Ring, Matern, & Watson constantly interchanging to provide cover for each other. It often meant that the Eleven's counterattacks were not as quick as Charlotte's transition to defense as Charlotte often quickly had 8 guys behind the ball. However, the Eleven found their moments, often creating set piece opportunities because of their pace around Charlotte's defense.

While the stats don't completely agree with me, my eyeball test said that this was one of the more dominant games by the Eleven. They gave up some possession and a goal, but the goal was really the only significant opportunity by Charlotte. Charlotte's goal was followed by Fon Williams shouting at his guys, saying "Too easy guys!" Nobody went to the ball, nobody properly tracked Herrera, and a guy of his caliber isn't going to miss too many times from inside the box with yards of space around him. I just can't think of too many opportunities where Charlotte significantly threatened the Eleven.

However, the Eleven have played well in their past two games and only got a positive result out of one of them, so it's good for their confidence to play well and get the win. Coach Rennie addressed this after the game by saying:
"In the last three games this week, we've really been unfortunate in the goals that we've lost. We've hardly had any chances up against us. And we've lost two goals and we've tied a game and lost a game so we've really been unfortunate. And before the game I said that to the players that it's been a little bit cruel in the last two games but it's not always like that. So we have to believe, we have to fight for each other and when we were down, we did that. We fought together and I was really pleased to see Ben Speas getting a goal because he's been doing really well in training. He held the ball up really well for us. Eugene set the goal up and both of them, obviously, had to come off the bench to do that. So that showed good concentration and character and I was really happy with the win."
Ben Speas may not have been an official starter, but his effort off the bench was rewarded with the goal in the 62nd minute from the other early first half sub in Starikov. Starikov was calling for the ball that he headed back across the goal to Speas' one-time left footed shot and my pick for team MVP at this point in the season, Ayoze put a perfect ball to Starikov. Similarly, Ayoze's corner kick in the 70th minute that Mitchell won was put in a location that forced Charlotte's keeper, Dykstra, to come off his line. Mitchell just beat him to the spot. With 4 goals and 5 assists, Ayoze has been involved in 41% of this team's goals and if you count the times, like Speas' goal, that his play leads to another player's assist, this team seems to go as he goes. Luckily, he goes well. As long as he can avoid another yellow card, since he's currently sitting on 4 yellow cards.

It was good to see Eamon Zayed return to Indy. Colin Falvey was seen on Twitter preceding the game telling Zayed that Falvey and Marco Franco left Indy with positive results so it was his turn. It was also good to see that, despite my pre-game prediction of him getting on the scoreboard, Zayed was unable to unlock the Indy defense and Charlotte left without points like Ottawa and Penn FC had been able to do.

The Eleven will now spend the next month on the road, not returning until August 15th, which will be a newly turfed Lucas Oil Stadium.

Ring while exiting late in the game due to injury when the Assistant Ref told him to hurry off the field:
"You do your job, I'll do mine."

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I could give this to Ayoze again, but I'm going to give it to Speas, Starikov, and Moses for their combined efforts in playing significantly more minutes than anticipated and out of position, respectively.



Friday, July 6, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Ottawa Fury FC - 05.16

- Opponent: Ottawa Fury FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 11,025
- Final Score: 0-1 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Rusin, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Starikov, Guerra, Watson, McInerney, Speas
- Substitutions: Saad 59' (Watson); Pasher 73' (Starikov); Braun 73' (Speas)
- Unused: Farr, Ring, Steinberger, Moses
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Guerra 26' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

June was a good month for Indy Eleven and a rough one for Ottawa. The Eleven were undefeated in the month of June, while Ottawa won only once during the month and lost three times (in league play; they did get a couple victories in the Canadian Championship). The script was flipped for the teams as July gets underway with Ottawa taking a 1-nil victory in Lucas Oil Stadium. Even though Ottawa's results haven't been what they wanted in June, the team has had good success against the Eleven, dating back to their days together in the NASL. Overall, Ottawa now has a 6W-2D-2L record against Indy, with a +7 goal differential.

The stat line nobody wants to see. The dreaded red ball next to a players name indicating that they were credited with scoring in the goal they were supposed to defend. In the 28th minute, from a free kick just outside the right side of the 18-yard box, Ottawa's Oliveira placed the ball into the 6-yard box where the closest teammate, Colin Falvey, was easily 5-yards away. While we all love Falvey, he's not exactly the biggest goal scoring threat. The ball landed near Mitchell, he stumbled, and the ball went into the goal like he planned for it to go there. Mitchell's mistake and own goal remained the only time the ball found the back of the net the entire game, but it should not take away from how well Mitchell played (and is playing) for the Eleven. Mitchell has been a rock in an ever changing back line and often stops attacks before they get underway.

His mistake is made worse because the rest of the team couldn't place the ball into Ottawa's goal, despite having an advantage in every single statistical category. Indy dominated in possession (62% to 38%), shots (14 to 6), shots on goal (4 to 2), crosses (23 to 3), duels success rate (60% to 40%), aerial duels success rate (65% to 35%). After the own goal, the Eleven became a lot more direct, but not always with good results. I even included in my match notes, "Who to?" because I realized I had said it at least a few times by the time I wrote it.

The game against Ottawa is the second game in a 4 game stretch in a week in a half so I understand the need to rotate some players, but I question Speas up top as the lone striker. He can't give you the same kind of target Braun can provide or the physical presence that McInerney has been providing. Once Coach Rennie used his complement of subs by bringing in Saad, Pasher, & Braun for Watson, Starikov, & Speas, respectively, the offense looked much more effective. Granted, part of that was that the Eleven were chasing the game and Ottawa was content to hang on and get out of town with a win, but Braun is much better at hold-up play and Pasher's return to the lineup is a welcome sight as the one player who is unafraid of trying to take on players and go to goal.

As the Eleven chased the game, they proceeded to have one of the most baffling plays of the game. In the 80th minute, the Eleven were awarded a free kick near the corner of the 18-yard box. At that point in the game, Ayoze, McInerney, and Saad were all on the field. All players that we've seen score spectacular free kick goals this year. Waiting in the box for the cross were 6'2" Mitchell, 6'3" Braun, & 6'4" Rusin with Ottawa not fielding a single player taller than 6'0" at the time. However, with all of those advantages, Ayoze placed a ball on the ground towards the center of the box that was summarily blasted back towards midfield. "Who to?"

The Eleven continued to push for the goal, but it never materialized and the Eleven's recent undefeated streak came to a hot and humid end. Which brings me to a point that others have verbalized in other places. The Indy Eleven started playing in Lucas Oil Stadium for a variety of reasons, but one that was mentioned was "always perfect weather." Yet to save a few bucks (okay, tens of thousands of bucks), the Eleven have chosne to open the roof on days where the temperatures have reached the lower 90s. In Wednesday's case, the game time temperature was 93-degrees with over 50% humidity. There should be no reason that a team that plays in a world-class air conditioned facility should need to have hydration breaks during the game. The teams looked gassed, fans were miserable, and I honestly believe that having the roof open actually prevented the crowd from being larger. While the announced attendance topped 11,000, I think it could have been higher given the number of people that were in the downtown area due to the July 4th festivities. I understand the need to not spend money unnecessarily, but the optics and subsequent poor PR of fans complaining about the heat inside the stadium are not going to endure the team to a potential MLS bid. Assuming that is still their goal, and I'm not convinced that it should or needs to be, continuing to play games in that type of environment is likely to not work out as well as the team would hope.

Despite the protestations from fans on social media about the heat, I fully expect the roof to again be open on Saturday when the Eleven take on Eamon Zayed and the Charlotte Independence. If it's as hot and uncomfortable as it was against Ottawa, I'm going to use this platform to complain again. I was never sold on the move to Lucas Oil Stadium and unnecessarily sitting in my own sweat isn't converting me.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Ayoze has become my favorite new player this year. His first touch is impeccable, he never looks rattled on the ball, and he's also a threat from free kicks and penalty kicks. With the exception of the above mentioned questionable decision to play a free kick on the ground late in the game, I think Ayoze played a solid game including a run at the Ottawa goal early in the first half that could have changed the dynamic of the game had it not been for a point blank save by Ottawa's goalkeeper Crepeau.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Penn FC - 05.15

- Opponent: Penn FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,222
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Guerra, Watson, Braun, McInerney
- Substitutions: Starkikov 58' (Moses); Speas 63' (Braun); Rusing 81' (Matern)
- Unused: Farr, Lewis, Ring, Steinberger
- Goals: McInerney 80'
- Bookings: Watson 41' (Yellow);Ouimette 76' (RED - Yellow 50', Yellow 76'); Rusin 90' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

With Saad out and an in-form Braun, the starting lineup the past two games remained the same. While McInerney was out with his yellow card accumulation suspension, the starting lineup remained the same. Consistent among that four game stretch was the rest of the midfield and the defense. That will not be the case come Wednesday when the Eleven face Ottawa Fury FC because Ouimette picked up two yellow cards against Penn FC in the 50th and 76th minutes. I don't argue with either card and makes the second time this season that an Indy Eleven player has picked up a 2nd yellow card in a game (Matern was the first to do this vs NYRB II in May). Combined with Ouimette's previous red card (stoppage time vs NCFC in April) and McInerney's yellow card accumulation suspension, the Eleven have now had 5 games where they had to shuffle the lineup due to suspensions. Coach Rennie has tended to prefer the back four lineup of Venegas, Mitchell, Ouimette, and Ayoze with 7 of the 15 games employing those four players. Once again, the defense is going to have to shuffle. Based on the sub that was made immediately after Ouimette was sent to the locker room early, I would expect a Venegas, Mitchell, Rusin, Ayoze lineup on Wednesday versus Ottawa.

For what it's worth, the Eleven are tied for 1st on most red cards received and 7th for most yellow cards received. I'm not sure if the USL tiebreakers come down to fair play as we've seen in the World Cup, but the Eleven aren't helping themselves in that category.

A key component of Coach Rennie's philosophy this year has been defend first, possess when possible, and counterattack. I'm not sure if that last part is actually "counterattack and hope for a foul within 35 yards that allows for a set piece," but the Eleven set piece goal scoring trend continued against Penn FC. Down a man in the 80th minute from 28 yards out, Ayoze and McInerney stood over the ball and while it would be understandable for Penn FC to think that Ayoze would try to bend it with his left foot over the wall and into the goal, it was actually McInerney who used his right foot to bend it over the wall and into the goal. With the number of weapons that the Eleven possess from set pieces, teams might think twice about "professional fouls" in that area and just take their chances on letting the game play out in the run-of-play. They might have better luck.

So despite being down a goal after the 51st minute after Lucky Mkosana converted the penalty kick that also included Ouimette's first yellow card, and down a man from the 76th minute after Ouimette's red card (not the best of night's for Karl...), the Eleven managed a draw at home in what could have easily been a loss. The Eleven possessed the ball at times, but could never seem to do much with it, getting just 1 shot on goal out of 4 total and shooting themselves in the foot 6 times with Offside calls. For a team that likes to run their offense through counterattacks, the offside calls stopped all their momentum.

After an undefeated May, Ottawa has had a rough June, losing 3 of their last 4 official matches, plus a game in Atlanta that was abandoned before the 2nd half could begin due to prolonged weather issues. Yet, this will be Colin Falvey's first return to Indy and he will have his guys motivated. Having watched Falvey lay the hammer on opposing teams' guys the past two season, I fear for Braun and McInerney. Wednesday's game against Ottawa marks the 2nd in as many games where Indy fans will see former players on the opposing bench, as Marco Franco and Paulo Junior both visited Indy with Penn FC. Paulo must be a recent addition because I don't see him on their roster, but he did get his first start with the team. It's nice to know the guys found new teams after the scorched earth rebuild.

Based on the post-game interview that I saw, Coach Rennie was reasonably happy with the result given the circumstances in which the put themselves, but they did not look like the same team we've seen the past few games. The competition level stepped up from Atlanta and Toronto, but we've been hearing that the team needs more consistency with the lineup and we'll start seeing better results. They've had that in the past month and they look good against the bad teams and okay against the good teams. Maybe that will be enough for them to make the playoffs...

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I think it's time for me to give Fon Williams some love. I was harsh on him in the beginning of the season and he still makes some decisions that I question, but he's lead the team to 7 clean sheets on the season (tied for 2nd in the conference) and have only given up 16 goals (tied for 3rd in the conference). There was even a moment against Penn where his defenders put him into a situation where he was forced to kick the ball out of danger with his left foot. Early in the season, that would have immediately found the arms of the fans in the stands, but he put it in the middle of the field where the Eleven at least had a chance to do something with it.