Sunday, October 14, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 05.34

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Louisville
- Attendance: 10,686
- Final Score: 1-0 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Ferreira, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Watson, Mares, Braun, McInerney
- Substitutions: Collier 54' (Braun); Guerra 78' (Matern); Speas 81' (Moses)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Amankona
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Ouimette 51' (Yellow); Moses 78' (Yellow); Mares 82' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: None

I wanted to wait to write my thoughts about the Eleven's loss to Louisville until the rest of the results from the league's Sunday games were final as it affected where the Eleven would end in the table, and by extension, where they would play in the first weekend of the playoffs. At the conclusion of the game against LCFC, Indy maintained the spot they entered, which was in 5th place. At the conclusion of the Sunday games, the Eleven fell all the way to 7th, forcing a rematch with Louisville City FC next weekend.

Knowing that it was a possibility for the two teams to play again next weekend, I considered the option during the 2-hour drive home. I would like to be wrong about it, but I don't believe that the Indy Eleven can win the game next weekend. They have played Louisville tough this season, but at the time of year when it matters most, the Eleven don't look like the team that can win against the top level talent in the Eastern Conference. They've played the top teams in the closing weeks of the season and have lost 3 of their last 5. That's not exactly the run-of-form that you want when heading into the playoffs.

With what we've witnessed Saturday, the Eleven held their own in the first half, but chased the game in the second half and not just chasing the game in the sense that they adjusted their tactics to find an equalizer after falling behind from a 34 minute penalty kick goal from Lancaster. Rather, they were constantly chasing the ball trying to catch up to the ball movement from Louisville. I don't see how the team remedies that in less than a week.

Then there's the field... LCFC have clearly figured out how to play in a field that is short, narrow, and watered down with dish soap laden water. How many LCFC players did you see slip and slide making cuts in the infield "grass" and how many Indy Eleven players did you see slip and slide making cuts in that exact same area of the field? I think Braun's early second half departure was a result of a slip that caused him to slowly pick himself off the turf. In the first half, Venegas looked like a thief tip-toeing through a house in an absurd soccer crime-caper movie. Which, I'm sure seems obvious, is not an ideal way to defend a team. Particularly when you're playing more of a three back lineup. So in addition to the eleven players on the field, the Eleven had to compete against the field itself.

LCFC were not as affected by their field, and by all indications, avoided the baseball infield portion of the field as much as possible. Yet, even with LCFC playing in just the northern half of the field, the Eleven were constantly trying to catch up to the movement from Louisville.

In the first half, the Eleven were going from West to East. I took the heat map from the game's match center, roughly drew in the location of the infield "grass," rotated the map to reflect the actual field, and split it for each team. Here's what that evaluation confirmed for my eye-ball test.

Indy defended a lot and the majority of their touches were within their own half. That was in both halves, but the second half was even deeper in their defensive third.

Indy Eleven 1st half heat map - defending west

Indy Eleven 2nd half heat map - defending east
Louisville, on the flip side, had a great deal of their touches in Indy's half of the field and looked to make a concerted effort to avoid the infield "grass." They seem to have adjusted their play to the difficulties that the infield and pitcher's mound presents. Yet, even with that compressed field limitation, LCFC's passes consistently forced the Eleven to recover defensively.
LCFC 1st half heat map - defending east

LCFC 2nd half heat map - defending west
With less than a week, Coach Rennie and the rest of the coaching staff have to figure out how to beat a team that, to me, were the better team on Saturday without any way to recreate the difficulties of playing on the surface they saw this week. Which is going to be a tall order and leads me to this week's Game Beckons Game Ball.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Owain Fon Williams in a runaway. Fon Williams set a new season high for him in saves on Saturday, officially tallying 8, but what felt like more. Coach Rennie was quoted afterwards of saying that he thought "he [Fon Williams] deserved a clean sheet" and "it was only a penalty that was able to beat him." Owain had to deal with more than double the Shots on Target as his LCFC counterpart, Ranjitsingh, and was able to keep the Eleven in the game. He managed to minimize the scoring damage and a penalty kick is a rough way to lose a clean sheet, but he played well and was the definite bright spot for the team.



1 comment:

Jeff C. said...

That was a damp squib of a finish to an up-and-down season, Comparing LCFC's form over the last six games (six wins, 17-3 total goals) to Indy's (1 win, 1 draw, four losses), it's hard to see how Indy can come back to win in Louisville net week. Certainly, Coach Rennie has done nothing this year to suggest that he can reshape the team's approach.