Monday, July 15, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Hartford Athletic - 06.17

- Opponent: Hartford Athletic
- Location: Hartford
- Attendance: 5,500
- Final Score: 2-1 L
- Starting XI: Newtown, Hackshaw, Ouimette, Barrett, Walker, Gibson, Ayoze, King, Watson, Enevoldsen, Kelly
- Substitutions: Ilic 60' (Watson); Pasher 73' (King); Diakhate 84' (Gibson)
- Unused: Farr, Farias, Osmond, Kim
- Goals: Ayoze 88' (Penalty kick)
- Bookings: Hackshaw 89' (Yellow)
- Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
- Adage goals: None

Some have called this game the definition of a "trap" game. The Eleven had a couple weeks worth of rest and are sitting near the top of the table, while Hartford sits near the bottom and were opening their new stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,500 fans. As Coach Rennie stated afterwards, "It was certainly disappointing not to get something out of the game because there were lots of things that we did well. In the end, we walked into a difficult situation and we feel like we should’ve done a little bit better.”

Which is true. The Eleven dominated possession. They were better in duels and aerial duels. They had significantly more opportunities from corners. They had more crosses and were more successful with those crosses. They had their second lowest percentage of long passes all season (nearly 6% lower than their season average).

When they didn't do things well, Hartford made the most of their chances. Hartford were 50% accurate on their shots, putting Hartford's Dixon put one off the crossbar in the 56th minute, before getting one in the net a couple minutes later when an Eleven breakdown in defense allowed Angulo to get an unpressured shot past Newton. Why was it unpressured? Ouimette had pushed forward to win a ball and stayed up after doing so. The ball made its way to Hartford's goalkeeper Due, who summarily blasted it across the halfway line where it was headed once and then passed to Angulo who had a clean run at goal because Barrett paused just long enough to raise his arm in request of an offside call and to look at the other side of the field to the AR, who correctly left his flag down. Barrett's unanswered request caused him to trail behind the ball with no chance to catching Angulo.

Down a goal, Indy was forced to press. With Hartford's second goal, a similar situation arose. Players were pushed forward with a King long throw-in/pseudo corner kick. Hartford cleared the ball, but players continued to stay pushed forward as Ayoze retrieved the ball. Ayoze passed to Hackshaw, who sent one of their 11% of long passes back up the field only to get it collected by Angulo. Angulo blasted it forward to Barrera, who laid it off to former Indy player Wojcik. Woj took a slight touch to avoid a sliding Ayoze and had an easy shot away from Newton.

Indy's bend but don't break defense against Louisville was a thing of beauty. Indy's bend but don't break defense against Hartford was less effective. As much as I praised Indy's transition defense against Louisville, when Indy failed in transition against Hartford, Hartford made them pay for it. With the second goal, Hackshaw was back defending Barrera and everybody else was trailing. The closest Eleven player beyond Hackshaw and Ayoze was Gibson who had to jump over the sliding Ayoze. No Ouimette, no Barrett, no Walker.

I don't know why it popped in my head when I saw the starting lineup, but as the immortal Crash Davis stated, "a player on a streak has to respect the streak." During Indy's preceding six games coming into Hartford, the team was 5-0-1 with Osmond in the center of the back line and Pasher scored 5 goals with 1 assist. I assume that Pasher was "fit for selection," but deemed not capable of a full ninety. Yet, as Indy struggled to break down Hartford's defense, Pasher's ability to take on defenders off the dribble was something that the team was clearly missing. I also don't know if Hartford would have scored their goals with Osmond in the game, but I have to wonder why Coach Rennie made the change(s).

Indy returns home this week to play Loudoun United FC, a team Indy beat a month ago with a late goal from Pasher. Hopefully, the Eleven don't have back-to-back poor results against teams in the lower half of the table.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This game's Game Beckons Game Ball goes to Ayoze. He created 3 chances, had 13! crosses, and scored his first goal of the season.

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