Sunday, October 21, 2018

Indy Eleven vs Louisville FC - 05.35 - USL Playoffs

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Louisville
- Attendance: 6,763
- Final Score: 4-1 L
- Starting XI: Fon Williams, Ouimette, Mitchell, Ferreira, Ayoze, Matern, Moses, Watson, Mares, Speas, McInerney
- Substitutions: Venegas 45' (Matern); Collier 61' (McInerney); Saad 61' (Watson)
- Unused: Lundgaard, Rusin, Ring, Guerra
- Goals: Saad 67' (assist Mares)
- Bookings: Mitchell 46' (Yellow); Ouimette 72' (Yellow)
- Adage goals: Two

Indy Eleven limped into the USL playoffs losing 4 of their final 6 games, including a loss last week to tonight's opponent in Louisville City FC. In those final 6 games, Indy played the elite teams of the eastern conference in FC Cincinnati, Louisville City FC, and Pittsburgh, as well as Bethlehem Steel who also made the playoffs. In those four games, Indy was outscored 8 to 3, giving up a trifecta of goals to Pittsburgh and FC Cincinnati. As I've pointed out before, Indy's record against the top four teams in the league (FCC, LCFC, Pittsburgh, & Charleston) was 2W-6L-4D.

Indy was good, but not great all season. Tonight, they were great for the first 5 minutes and came away with nothing to show for that effort. McInerney had a good opportunity within the first 20 seconds and Matern had another a few minutes later. After that, and much like last week, the better team won. Once LCFC put a goal on the board in the 29th minute by McCabe (his first of 2 on the night) and Indy had to push more numbers forward to get an equalizer, they were going to continue to provide opportunities for LCFC to exploit them.

Immediately ahead and behind the halftime break, Indy gave up free kick chances that LCFC put into the goal, creating an insurmountable lead. Coach Rennie went to the bench early in the second half, substituting Venegas in for Matern at halftime and then held off until the 61st minute before throwing all of his chips into the table. Out came McInerney, who felt a bit non-existent at times, for Collier and Saad in for Watson, both in the 61st minute. Indy had another good stretch of play after the substitutions and Saad made an immediate impact, pulling one back for the visitors in the 67th minute.

The optimism about Indy potentially making it a close game was short-lived though as Lancaster placed a (potentially) wind-assisted free kick over the wall and into the upper 90 out of reach of a fully-stretched Fon Williams. With that dagger, the rest of the game played out like a painful death march to the off-season for Indy Eleven and their fans.

The game finished as I expected, if not by the goal line that I expected. Indy was always going to have issues going into Louisville and getting a win. Exacerbating their odds were relatively poor performances from some guys like Ouimette and Matern. Not surprisingly, Ayoze and Mares played well in the loss and I would hope that they find their way back onto next season's roster. I'm more confident that Ayoze will be back, but I suspect Mares will once again be offered a contract some place that the Eleven will not be able to match. If I believe the line that Coach Rennie has stated all year about needing time to achieve proper chemistry (apparently 8+ months isn't quite enough), I would assume that most of this year's squad will be returning next year though I have to wonder if Lewis, Amankona, Pasher, Ring, Rusin, & Steinberger will be returning.That's a discussion for another time though.

Tonight, the Eleven begin their off-season after a disheartening 4-1 loss to a rival after having a good, but not great, season.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Ayoze and Mares. Ayoze is the team MVP and Mares gets 2nd place just because of his limited time here in Indy this season.



Jeff C. said...

Thanks, Drew, for another thoughtful essay. Your analysis all season has deepened my understanding and enjoyment of Indy Eleven.

This was, as you say, a dispiriting loss, and not an unexpected one. I come away from the season with a feeling that Indy has underachieved, given the talent on the roster. And that, inevitably, leads me to question whether Rennie is the right man for the job. But that, like next year's roster, is a matter for another day.

Drew said...

It's hard to argue with a playoff appearance in a new league with the limited time to get a team together after most teams had developed their rosters, but I agree that it still seems like the team underachieved. The thing that concerns me the most is how poorly the team performed against the top teams in the league.