Sunday, September 30, 2018

Indy Eleven vs FC Cincinnati - 05.32

- Opponent: FC Cincinnati
- Location: Cincinnati
- Attendance: 31,4783
- Final Score: 0-3 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Ayoze, Matern, Venegas, Watson, Mares Collier, McInerney
- Substitutions:  Starikov 66' (McInerney); Saad 76' (Collier); Guerra 79' (Matern)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Ring, Rusin, Speas
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Matern 31' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

I went into this game assuming that the Eleven were going to lose. Yeah, I know. What kind of fan am I? A realistic one. Cincinnati hasn't lost in 21 games (on May 26th to Louisville) and have now won 10 games in a row. Indy has been inconsistent, were on the road, and have struggled against the top portion of the conference. Cincinnati is not just in the top portion like the Eleven, they are THE top and it hasn't even been a close race.

Yet, based on the statistics, the Eleven held their own; even held an advantage in a number of categories. Coach Rennie has routinely said that they have been progressing well and that they needed to eliminate some individual mistakes. The Eleven had mistakes and paid for them nearly every time in this game. That's what great teams do when you make a mistake.

When Adi scored in the 34th minute, nobody stepped to the ball. If you don't stop the ball, a player's options significantly increase. When nobody stepped to him, Adi fired a shot. Yes, it took a deflection, but Fon Williams has struggled with shots like that all year. Close range reaction saves have been fine, but shots from distance seem to surprise him.

When Konig scored in the 65th minute, Fon Williams came well off his line, despite Konig being surrounded by both Mitchell and Ferreira, and made absolutely no contact with the ball. Konig collected and easily placed the ball into the goal.

On their third goal, the Eleven were slow at closing down Cicerone who had time to pin-point his cross, which Mitchell managed to redirect nicely into the side netting. It was a nice goal, it was just in the wrong goal.

The Eleven were credited with 20 shots, but only 5 were on target and a bunch of the missed shots were blasted well wide or over the goal. They were only 25% accurate on their shots, whereas Cincinnati took only 9 shots, but were 55.6% accurate.

Despite the 3-nil scoreline, I don't think the Eleven were a far inferior team against Cincinnati. Indy had some chances, but good saves from Newton and maybe an uncalled handball inside the 18 kept Indy off the scoreboard. Indy also had an issue with getting on the end of their crosses. The team had 24 crosses, of which only 7 were successful. As can be seen from the Chalkboard screen capture, Venegas accounted for 13 of the team's 24 crosses, but only two of those were successful. Venegas had success getting around Cincinnati's left side defense, but they couldn't do anything with the effort. The Eleven, as per usual, had some really good moments, but the final touch (whether that was a pass or shot) when they got inside the final third was lacking all night.

That's been a recurring theme from time-to-time this season. Unfortunately, the team has run out of time for me to think that they're going to figure it out in time for them to make any kind of substantial run in the playoffs. It looks like they are going to sneak in, but my guess is they're going to have to win games on the road as I don't see them getting themselves into position to host.

If Indy wins out, they get to 54 points. Only Bethlehem and Charleston have the potential to reach that point total or higher and if Indy beats Bethlehem, then that takes care of them. Charleston currently sit on 53 points, so they would have to lose to both Atlanta and Ottawa to not gain any additional points. I don't see that happening. So now the Eleven are playing to stay in the playoffs. If they manage just draws against Bethlehem and Louisville, that puts them at 50 points and NYRBII, Nashville, NCFC, Ottawa, & Bethlehem all have the potential to match or surpass that total.

It basically comes down to the fact that if Indy doesn't win out against Bethlehem and Louisville, they're going to need some results to go their way to make sure they are in the playoffs. At this point, after having watched them all season against the top portion of the conference, I'm going to resort to my typical pessimistic view. I think they make the playoffs, but just barely. Though, if they don't get any points from the Bethlehem AND Louisville games, I don't think they squeak in.

Two weeks remain for them to prove their worthy of a playoff spot.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

In a game where it was hard for me to differential one player as the stand-out player, sometimes you have to reward the effort and not necessarily the results. So Venegas gets the Game Beckons Game Ball tonight. He was consistently causing trouble for Cincinnati on the right side of the field, but had difficulty finding people on the other end of his crosses.


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