Sunday, September 2, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Richmond Kickers - 05.27

- Opponent: Richmond Kickers
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 11,344
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Ayoze, Ring, Guerra, Mares, Speas, Saad, McInerney
- Substitutions:  Collier 59' (Saad); Watson 59' (Speas); Venegas 83' (Ouimette)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Matern, Starikov
- Goals: Mares 14'
- Bookings: Ferreira81' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: One

I believe this game tells us everything we need to know about the Eleven's prospects in the playoffs, assuming that they make them. Richmond came into this game having not won a road game since July 9th against Penn FC. In that span of games, they were 1-6-0 on the road and were outscored 19 to 3. Their past two games, one at home and one on the road, were a 4-nil defeat to Nashville and a 6-nil drubbing to Louisville, respectively, both teams currently in playoff contention.

They scored within 5 minutes against the Eleven.

Granted, Dylan Mares pulled one back in the 14th minute and neither team scored after that, but the glimpses that we have seen from this team can't seem to be sustained for long enough stretches to separate themselves from the other playoff teams. Really, not even the non-playoff teams.

In the past four games, Indy has played Toronto (currently last in the conference), Atlanta (currently 2nd to last in the conference), Pittsburgh (3rd in the conference), and Richmond (currently 3rd to last in the conference) and managed a 3-2 win against Toronto after giving up a 2-goal lead, a 1-1 draw against Atlanta after giving up a 90'+6' goal, a 2-2 draw against Pittsburgh after getting a 90'+4' equalizer, and a 1-1 draw tonight against a team struggling to score goals and keep balls out of their own goal.

I found myself, once again watching the defense and their interplay and team defense was pretty good all night. It was, like Wednesday's game, an individual mistake that lead to Richmond's early goal. The ball was played out wide, which was one-touch crossed into the middle, where Gonzalez wasn't being properly tracked by Ferreira and was able to get in front of him to be able to deflect the ball towards the goal. Individual mistakes once again rearing their head.

Maybe the 6th game of the 7 in the 22 day stretch was a factor. When asked whether the guys were starting to feel the affects of the stretch, Coach Rennie replied, "I think tonight yeah. I think tonight was the first time I saw where I thought we were tired. ... It was a little bit lower tempo, a little bit of tiredness tonight."

Included in the above ellipses was something that I wanted to pull out separately. Around the 70th minute, there was an injury to one of the Richmond players. The injury became a pseudo hydration break as every single player seemed to get water, including the referee. Fans were partially sold on the move to Lucas Oil Stadium as the weather always being perfect for the games. While it's true that no games have been delayed due to rain and fans haven't had to exit the stadium and find shelter elsewhere to ride out thunderstorms, the operation of the stadium game day experience has left a lot to be desired. Twice this season, during a heat wave, there were actual hydration breaks in a stadium that has a roof. Other times, the stadium atmosphere is stifling hot because there is no air flow or breeze. Fans have seen some hot days at Carroll Stadium, but any kind of breeze was helpful. That is not the case in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Today, the roof was closed but the window was open and it was, you could hardly breath because there's heat coming in, but there's no air. ... It was kind of humid almost, kind of hard to breathe. I've seen that a couple times when there's no circulation of air because it's such a big stadium and the air doesn't seem to flow."
It's nearly impossible to argue that Carroll Stadium is better than Lucas Oil Stadium. However, the way that LOS is being utilized is significantly and adversely affecting the promised experience.

Exit soap box...

I was asked after the game what players I thought performed well. I was quick to point out Mares, who I still feel has gotten better in every way since his first stint here, Ring, who was solid in the defensive mid role, and Ayoze, who seems to rarely have a bad game. I've thought about it more and I can't pinpoint any players that I think played poorly. They just played well enough. Or at least well enough to not beat a bottom of the table team, while playing at home.

One of my final thoughts is something that I scribbled down in the 32nd minute when McInerney made a foray into the box, which was poked away but found its way to Saad just inside the 18-yard line. Despite being surrounded by 4 Richmond defenders, Saad managed to carve just enough space to be able to get a shot that Spangenberg was forced to parry over the top. This is one of the examples of what differentiates the players on this year's roster with ones from the past couple. Where Indy Eleven fans routinely used to shout "Shoot the ball" in the past, McInerney and Saad know their roles and shooting the ball is a key component of that role. Coming into the game, Saad had taken 52 shots (most on the team), which is 3rd most shots in the conference and 7th in the entire league. They know they need to take shots and find ways to do so.

The team remained on their undefeated streak with the draw tonight, but I'm still concerned about its playoff prospects. Maybe Wednesday's game against the Red Bulls II will help sway me, but I'm not optimistic.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Mares. For all the reasons I've been saying the past couple of weeks.




Jeff C. said...

Thank you for the soap-box comment. I was very uncomfortable during the game, especially in the first half, and all I was doing was sitting there. I can't imagine trying to play in that kind of warm, humid soup, which was far worse indoors than out. If the team can't afford air conditioning, it shouldn't be playing at LOS. I have no doubt that the players were negatively affected by the conditions.

Can we note that the announced attendance figures have now moved beyond ridiculous? The announced attendance of 11,344 would be, in essence, a sellout given the limited number of sections the team opens for sale. But the stadium was nowhere near full; I doubt there were more than 2500 people there. I know that the team always announces tickets sold (or is that "distributed") rather than turnstile attendance, but I don't believe for a second that the team actually sold that many tickets. And if there were in fact more than 8,000 no-shows, that also doesn't speak well for the team's future.

Thank goodness for Dylan Mares. It's such a pleasure to see him in Indy blue again.

Drew said...

11,344 is laughable. By my count, the sections that the Eleven make available total roughly 12,250 seats. The place definitely swallows crowds, making good sized crowds look deceptively worse, but there's no way the place was more than 90% full. If you assume that every section was only 1/3 full (which seems reasonable to me looking at the seats), that's just over 4,000 people. So I think 2500 is low. I would have put it around 6,000 to 7,000 based on what I suspect of season ticket holder numbers.