Sunday, June 30, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 06.16

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,584
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Farr, Hackshaw, Osmond, Ouimette, Walker (C), Gibson, Ayoze, Farias, Pasher, Enevoldsen, Diakhate
- Substitutions: Watson 58' (Pasher - injury); King 72' (Farias); Kelly 79' (Diakhate)
- Unused: Newton, Kim, Ilic, Nieto
- Goals: Pasher 9' (assist Enevoldsen)
- Bookings: Farias 45'+3' (Yellow); Osmond 69' (Yellow); Ayoze 80' (Yellow)
- Referee: Farhad Dadkho
- Adage goals: None

The third game in eight days is always going to be a difficult one. When that third game is the Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest, you kind of expect it to be a hard-fought, close match. Coming into the game, Indy was sitting at the top of the table due to a 5 game win streak and a 9 game undefeated streak (and some help from the USL tiebreakers). LCFC came into the game right in the middle of the teams that are in position to make the playoffs, but on a week's worth of rest and, as Coach Hackworth put it, "coming off a result that we are not happy with in terms of our overall performance." Much like last Saturday's game where Atlanta came in wanting to make amends for a game that didn't go like they wanted, LCFC wanted have a good showing against Indy, in Indy.

To counteract LCFC's motivation, Indy started the game with a lot of energy and put Louisville on their heels early. In the first 20 minutes, Indy had 6 shots, 3 of them on goal. One of those shots was converted as Pasher continues to show Indy fans what they were missing last year due to Pasher's injuries. By the time Pasher scored in the 9th minute, the interplay between the front three of Diakhate, Enevoldsen, and Pasher made it look like Indy was going to put multiple goals on the board again. Conversely, LCFC's first shot on goal didn't happen until the 42nd minute.

Yet, Indy's good offense form in the first 20 - 30 minutes deteriorated as the game progressed and their legs became heavier and heavier and LCFC continued to push tempo. LCFC pushed for a win after getting a free kick goal in the 55th minute by DelPiccolo. Further exacerbating Indy's deterioration of offensive opportunities was the injury to Pasher that forced him to leave in the 58th minute. Pasher has been the team MVP for the past month and there was a noticeable drop-off in the team's chances after his departure. Indy only had 4 shots in the entire second half, while LCFC had 7 shots, 3 on goal. Indy's last shot occurred in the 76th minute.

Yet, Indy bent but never broke at the end of the game. Whatever struggles the team was having on the offensive half, the defense continued to play strong. As Indy transitions from offense to defense, their recovery defense is a thing of beauty. Hackshaw, Osmond, Ouimette (and Crognale and Barrett when they're on the back line) were helped out by Ayoze, Walker, Gibson, and Farias and stifled nearly all of LCFC's transition opportunities. If not for some loose whistles from the ref that set up some free kick chances, this would have been a different result for Indy.

Some final notes, all related to Indy's forwards. Like everyone else, I love Alioune Diakhate's story and that he is getting rewarded for his improvement and goal scoring. Yet, I'm not sure that he's a ready for starting in back-to-back games. Early in his time in Indy, Diakhate was prone to fouling as soon as he came in and causing immediately turnovers. While he's improved in that aspect, putting him up top with Pasher and Enevoldsen playing underneath him was not effective. Diakhate did not win a single aerial duel in the game and was routinely muscled off the ball. As Indy devolved into "hoof and chase" at the end of the game, they needed someone better at hold-up play than Diakhate is able to do at this point in his career. Additionally, he was called for a foul in the 67th minute even though replay showed it was clearly faked. That only happens because of his propensity to foul.

That being said, Kelly continues to struggle and his inconsistent effort bothers me. As a substitute, brought in at the 79th minute, and with 2 weeks before the next game, there's no reason his effort wasn't at max capacity. Yet, at the end of the game, he made a long run to get a ball. When the ball turned back over to LCFC and went to the other end, Kelly jogged back to half. He didn't run. He jogged. With the teams going end-to-end at that point, his lackadaisical hustle back meant that the entire team had to adjust and wait for him to get back before trying to go forward again. That's unacceptable, is part of a trend with him, and may be part of why Diakhate is seeing more time.

Indy now goes on the road to face Hartford and should be a chance to keep the undefeated streak alive, but Indy was underwhelming against Hartford in March. So Indy now get a couple weeks of rest, which is ideal to get Ilic and Starikov back to fitness, to determine the extent of Pasher's injury, and to get focused on Hartford on the 13th.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Pasher. Again. His effort and ability on the ball causes problems for opposing defenses and he's starting to see teams throw two guys at him as soon as he touches the ball. It paid off with an early goal and the team looked completely different when he went out with his injury.

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