Thursday, August 30, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - 05.26

- Opponent: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 8,077
- Final Score: 2-2 D
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Ayoze, Matern, Watson, Mares, Starikov, Speas, McInerney
- Substitutions:  Saad 61' (Starikov); Guerra 79' (Watson);  Ring 79' (Matern)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Venegas, Lewis
- Goals: McInerney 4' (assist Watson); McInerney 90'+4' (assist Speas)
- Bookings: McInerney 90'+5' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

"I'm really happy with the never say die attitude because we're in a run of playing quite a lot of games at the moment, but we're not seven games unbeaten. In a game like that tonight where it was kind of not going our way, in the sense that we had good chances and goalkeeper made great saves or we didn't quite take them or a game where we looked reasonably comfortable and we were unfortunate to give two goals away I think could have been prevented. Sometimes in those games you have to dig in and you have to show your character and I thought we did that. ... I take a lot from tonight. I take a lot of confidence. I take a lot of pleasure from the late goal." - Coach Rennie

The guy is nothing if not optimistic about his team and where they are headed down the stretch. However, I agree with him. One of my game notes early, maybe 25 to 30 minutes after McInerney put them on the board in the 4th minute, was that the team didn't relax after the early goal, were still pushing for more goals, but were playing good team defense. Even giving up the goals they did (more on those in a minute), both Coach and I agreed that they were individual mistakes and not poor team defense.

We were also in agreement that the refs were less than perfect, but he didn't want to dwell on that. I will though. I can't recall the last time I've seen Coach as animated after the whistle than we witnessed after both the halftime and fulltime whistles. His frustrations were reasonable. The free kick that lead to Pittsburgh's first half stoppage time goal should have never happened. Mitchell was brought down and nearly doubled in half backwards seconds before the foul was called the other direction. Mitchell hobbled back on defense and then was the one that Greenspan jumped through to get his head on the ball. Twice the ref could have made the correct call and didn't.

While I'm at it, in the 42nd min, Pittsburgh's Francois went up for a header against Matern and lost the header. He went down to the ground and appeared to grab his head. Mares sportingly kicked the ball into the stands to stop the player since the ref was headed in the complete opposite direction. Francois then proceeded to stand up, requiring no attention from a trainer. If a player can get a card for unsportsmanlike conduct for diving, I believe that a player that feigns an injury to a head should similarly receive a card. Or be forced to spend halftime listening to children read them the story of the boy who cried wolf. If you're going to act like a child, some children can teach you a lesson.

I digress...

When I passed Coach Dos Santos as he exited the field, I asked him if the team could make it a little less exciting by holding onto leads and not having to fight back at the end of games. Paraphrasing, he said, "At this point, I think this is the way it's going to be." Coach Rennie echoed those thoughts:
"I think this is one of those seasons which is, it's a grind. Like we're having to work hard for everything that we're getting. But by doing that, we're building a lot of character. We're building a lot of resilience and, ultimately, you need those things to be a team that wins at the end of the season." - Coach Rennie
Like I said, the guy is an optimist.

After an early 1-nil lead, the Eleven followed their recent script and gave up the lead with the suspect stoppage goal in the first half and then went down 2-1 after a less than strong back pass from Matern was intercepted by Francois, who summarily dribbled around Fon Williams and casually passed the ball into the goal. Showing the resilience and won't die attitude that Coach Rennie has frequently mentioned, McInerney picked up his second brace (and 5th goal) in the month of August to send the visitors home with just a point.

As Indy Eleven fans know all too well with Eamon Zayed's time here the past couple years, goal scorers need to see the ball go in the goal and the more it happens, the more confidence they get. The more confidence they get, the more likely their shots find better aim, and the more goals they score. It's cyclical. To the point where McInerney's confidence is reaching a level where just minutes after scoring the first goal of the game, he tried a shot from nearly half-field trying to catch Pittsburgh's keeper off his line. It drifted wide, but that's a goal scorer who is feeling confident. McInerney is a goal scorer and has proven it over the years in MLS. It seems like his confidence is returning and with it, so are his chances on goal.

"But now, he's doing what I think we all know he can do, which is score goals. His movement's good. His finishing's good. He's got a knack for it. It's really great for me to see it and I think for all of our fans to see it. But also for him. To gain that confidence because goal scorers thrive on scoring goals. That helps them building confidence." - Coach Rennie
Hopefully the team take McInerney's and the team's confidence and resilience a step further this weekend as the play the Richmond Kickers on Saturday. A Richmond team that has been hammered this week by a negative 10 goal differential; losing last Saturday to Louisville 6-nil and then lost 4-nil to Nashville last night. Indy need to follow the script written by their fellow top of the table mates and spread the goals around. Indy could really use a large goal differential game to help themselves in the standings down the wire as they are the only playoff eligible team with less than a +5 GD and only one of two with single digit GD.

Some final bullet point notes:

  • However good we thought Mares was in his first stint with the Eleven, he's gotten better. Offensively, defensively, possession... He's composed on the ball. 
  • Ouimette and Matern put some balls in questionable spots during the game that made it difficult or impossible for their teammates to do anything with the ball once they received it. With the way that Pittsburgh were swarming to the flanks on defense, it seemed these two struggled to put balls in good positions. 
  • In the 34th minute, there was an apparent lack of communication on a free kick for the Eleven on who was going to take and how they were going to take it. It eventually turned into a cross and pass/shot from Ouimette that nearly found the goal. What looked like a wasted opportunity nearly turned into a goal. Odd to watch though.
  • Indy has zero width on Fon Williams goal kick restarts. They are all bunched onto one side and 30-yards apart from farthest person forward to farthest person back. Seems like it would make it easier to defend.
  • Speaking of goal kicks... What is the point of kicking a short kick to Mitchell or Ferreira who have to immediately pass it back to Fon Williams because they are under pressure, only to have Fon Williams blast it up field when they pressure continues to him. Why not just start out with the blast up the field?

The Game Beckons Game Ball

You get a brace, you get the Game Beckons Game Ball. Congrats McInerney.



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