Sunday, May 5, 2019

Indy Eleven vs North Carolina FC - 06.08

- Opponent: North Carolina FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 9,017
- Final Score: 0-0 D
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw (C), Crognale, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Gibson, King, Enevoldsen, Kelly, Pasher
- Substitutions: Watson 72' (King); Penn 74' (Pasher); Diakhate 86' (Kelly)
- Unused: Farr, Farias, Walker, Ilic
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Diakhate 90'+1' (Yellow)
- Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
- Adage goals: None

Coming into the game, when asked about not having Paddy Barrett in the game, Coach Rennie was quoted as saying, "I don't think it really changes anything. For us, we’ve got a number of players who can step in if someone’s out. Paddy’s been a very good player for this season and he’s a very important player for us, but so is Karl [Ouimette]." While I don't think that's completely true, otherwise why would Barrett have played every minute of every game prior to his dismissal against Tampa Bay, Ouimette did do a good job in Barrett's place. With a pair of back-to-back draws against some of the top teams in the conference during a busy 3-game week, Barrett's yellow/yellow/red card didn't ultimately come back to hurt the team.

This game looked noticeably different than the one on Wednesday versus Tampa Bay. The Rennie Bunker (TM) wasn't present and Indy controlled the game from possession, defense, and shot perspectives. The Eleven had multiple bites at the apple, but couldn't get a shot (one of 20) to find its way into the goal. North Carolina really only had a few good chances, one by former Indy Eleven player Ben Speas, and Newton came up big on each of those. Speaking of which, with the clean sheet, Newton became the USL Championship's all-time leader in that category. The team already has four on the season, on pace to set a new club record, but that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

As I watched, I was reminded of something I said towards the end of last season. Last year, Indy was good, but not great, particularly against the elite teams in the conference. As I watched shot after shot go wide or caught by NCFC's Tambakis, I began to wonder if we'll see a similar trend this year. Indy has looked spectacular against the bottom of the table and Bethlehem, outscoring them by a 10 to 3 margin. Against the top of the table, Indy have been outscored 4 to 2, plus a couple of nil-nil draws. Again though, that may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Hopefully this isn't a game that Indy will regret not getting all three points based on the number of good opportunities they had to get a game-winning goal.

Indy now has two weeks off from league play before hosting Charleston on May 18th, but will host a U.S. Open Cup game on May 15th versus the winner of Lansing Ignite and AFC Ann Arbor.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Pasher. He may have made a mess out of a couple of his chances, but he looked dangerous all night. One of his chances, he looked indecisive as he found himself behind the defense and one-on-one with the keeper and looked like he couldn't decide if he wanted to try and chip the keeper or take a full shot and he ended up getting caught by the recovering defense. On another occasion, he got in towards the box, but lost the ball under his feet. Sometimes his speed, and he may be one of the fastest in the league that I can recall seeing, is faster than his decision process.

After all that, why does he get the GBGB? Because he was consistently a nuisance for NCFC's defense and the stats indicate that my eyeball test were accurate. He could have easily had a goal, but his pace and effort constantly had NCFC's defense on their heels or full-out sprinting toward the goal to try and catch him. With that much effort and pace, teams won't be able to throw so many bodies at Kelly to defend him, which both Tampa Bay and NCFC did the past two games. 

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