Sunday, February 10, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Butler

The offseason came to a close tonight as the Indy Eleven took on Butler University at Grand Park. Much like them easing into the regular season, my recap of the evening is going to be similar as I ease back into writing recaps as well.

"Mr. Indy" in the house!
Grand Park's indoor facility is absolutely massive and is a reasonable place to play games when the outdoor temperatures are in the teens. The game was played on the east field, while the center field was inhabited by a home show, which was unfortunate as the center field has more, and better, seating designed for watching a game in the venue. As a result, the large contingent of season ticket holders that took advantage of attending the game exceeded the amount of available seats. That, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a problem, but seeing the entire field of play isn't the easiest during the best of conditions. Add in a couple rows of people standing on the rail and it became nearly impossible to see some of the action.
One of those on the rail? None other than "Mr. Indy" himself, Don Smart, who was on his way to Madison to join Peter Wilt and Forward Madison FC, but stopped to cheer on fellow Jamaican Dane Kelly. One more item not specifically related to the play on the field, I was introduced to new CEO Greg Stremlaw and he seems like a good guy. We'll have to see if that translates to his CEO (and GM) duties, but he was personable and was engaged in the game.

With that out of the way, the team looked about what you would expect for the first preseason game only a couple weeks after players arrived in town. In fact, not all of the signings are in town yet as recent additions Thomas Enevoldsen and Lucas Farias have not yet joined the team. Additionally, goalkeeper Evan Newton and Tyler Gibson were the only signed players to not see any minutes tonight as last year's returnee, Jordan Farr, held down the shot stopper role for all 90 minutes. There were only two players that played more than a half worth of minutes, Farr and Trialist #5. Turns out Trialist #5 is the only player to make it out of the team's open try-out and it looks like Coach Rennie is going to give him plenty of live minutes to determine if he will be added to the team. Given what I saw out of Trialist #5, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a late spot to the roster.

Trialists received plenty of playing opportunities tonight as 5 of them were in the starting lineup and 5 (I think) were shuffled in and out during the 2nd half. The most notable to me was Trialist #3, who started in the defensive mid role in the 1st half and who I was able to determine from conversations may have been Bennett Kim, who played for Butler University. I also feel like I saw him playing for the Indy Eleven NPSL team, but I could definitely be mistaken on that. I could just remember him from the times the Eleven have played Butler over the years.

Related to that, despite not having been together for very long, the Eleven were much more effective against Butler than I remember them being in the past. Butler has a very good soccer program and some very big and talented guys, but the Eleven controlled the game and spent most of the time in the offensive half of the field. The Eleven were setup in what looked like a 4-4-2 to start, but seemed to quickly morph into a 3-5-2 when the team went forward. In the 2nd half, the team pushed even further forward and it transitioned to a 2-5-3 for portions as Butler struggled to produce much offense. With the exception of a chance early in the 2nd half that Farr had to save off the line after a ricochet off the post, Butler never really threatened the Eleven. I would expect Tuesday's upcoming friendly against FC Cincinnati will provide a much better test of the Eleven's defense. It was notable that Farr seemed to be more vocal during the 1st half than in the 2nd half when Paddy Barrett took over the center back role.

While the teams finished in a 0-0 draw, the Eleven had multiple opportunities on goal, many of them just barely missing. Much like Butler's chance in the early stage of the 2nd half, the Eleven did manage to put the ball into back of the net from a recirculation of a corner kick, but the referee ruled there was a push and Butler was awarded the ball. The other notable chance that I remember was from Dane Kelley in the 2nd half when he rifled a half-volley at Butler's keeper that created such a resounding thud on his gloves that I fully expected him to need to shake out his wrists. It's the kind of shot that despite being right at the keeper, created a rebound opportunity for other players.

Overall, it was a bit choppy, with some unforced errors and guys not being on the same page yet, but it was a good start and showed some glimpses of how the team might play when the season starts.

1st Half Lineup
Trialist #1
Trialist #2
Trialist #3
Trialist #4
Starikov - Yellow Card (20-ish minute)
Trialist #5

2nd Half Lineup

Indy Eleven subs:
IN - Hackshaw/Trialist
OUT - Trialist/Trialist

IN - Trialist
OUT - King

Full-time Score
0 - 0


1 comment:

kidareas said...

A very nice and good game artical, weekend indoor games