Thursday, May 30, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - 2019 U.S. Open Cup

- Opponent: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
- Location: Pittsburgh
- Attendance: 444
- Final Score: 0-1 L
- Starting XI: Farr, Hackshaw, Ouimette, Barrett(C), Watson, Walker, Pasher, Gibson, King, Enevoldsen, Penn
- Substitutions: Kelly 72' (Penn)
- Unused: Perez, Ayoze, Osmond, Diakhate, Nieto
- Goals: None
- Bookings: None
- Referee: Chris Ruska
- Adage goals: One

Sometimes I look at the stats after a game I've watched and I think, "did I actually watch that game?" This game exemplifies that thought as Indy dominated nearly every stat listed in the Match Center, but it never really felt like Indy was in that level of control of the game, particularly in the second half when Pittsburgh began to take the game to Indy and Indy was left on their heels for long stretches.

It was only until I looked at the Distribution chart that what I felt I saw on the screen matched what I saw in the stats. Indy kicked the ball around in the defense and in midfield, but were utterly anemic in the final third. The Distribution chart makes it look even worse than the final third, but I'll be generous.
“Really, the only reason we haven’t won many of the games we’ve played recently is that final third, that final touch. We’ve been defending well, possessing the ball well, creating chances, pressing well – we’ve done all the things well apart from putting the ball in the back of the net. So we’re in that spell at the moment where we need to keep doing the other things well, but we need to make sure that final third is done right because, until then, it continues to be frustrating.” - Coach Rennie
The Team Stats indicate that Indy generated 13 shots, 5 on target, but everything from about 40 yards from goal in to goal was a struggle. Passes became ineffective and the team squandered the few really good opportunities that they generated on goal. Penn missed a virtual tap-in in the 61st minute when he couldn't quite catch up to a perfect cross from Enevoldsen. Not to be outdone, Enevoldsen pushed a shot wide in the 89th minute when he had a 1 v 1 with Pittsburgh's goalkeeper Morton, moments after the team gave up the winning goal to second half substitute Kenardo Forbes in the 85th minute. Forbes made an immediate impact after coming into the game in the 81st minute.

With back-to-back games against Pittsburgh (one U.S. Open Cup game and one league game) in the span of 3 days, Coach Rennie chose to play the majority of his normal starters with the exception of Jordan Farr who had to play because of Evan Newton's red card against Lansing Ignite. The rest of the bench was populated by two Academy players (one a goalkeeper); a player found through open tryouts; Mitchell Osmond, who has played a single minute all season; and Ayoze. As the game remained tight towards the end, it became obvious that Coach Rennie didn't/doesn't have faith in his bench, chose to continue to give Ayoze a night's rest, and made just a single substitute, bringing on Kelly in the 72nd minute for Josh Penn. In his 18 minutes of action, Kelly touched the ball just 6 times, only one of which was even close to the goal and another that was the kick-off after Pittsburgh scored. He did, not surprisingly, get called offsides.

It will be interesting to see how Coach Rennie manages players on Saturday when Indy plays Pittsburgh again. I suspect Newton will be back between the posts with Ayoze and Kelly replacing Watson and Penn, but otherwise, the lineup will be the same, likely with similar results.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Pasher gets the Game Beckons Game Ball again this week. He created 2 chances on goal, had 2 successful crosses, was nearly 80% accurate in his passes in Pittsburgh's half of the field, and had 0 long passes. In a game where more than 20% of Indy's passes were considered long, Pasher was one of only two players who didn't resort to playing it long.

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