Sunday, July 28, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Nashville SC - 06.19

- Opponent: Nashville SC
- Location: Nashville
- Attendance: 13,047
- Final Score: 2-0 L
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Osmond, Barrett, Walker, Gibson, Ayoze, Pasher, Farias, Enevoldsen, Diakhate
- Substitutions: Kelly 45' (Diakhate); Ilic 63' (Farias); Watson 73' (Walker)
- Unused: Farr, Ouimette, Kim, King
- Goals: None
- Bookings: Pasher 17' (Yellow)
- Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
- Adage goals: None

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, Indy was playing Loudoun, a team in the bottom of the table. This week, Indy played Nashville, a team near the top of the table. Last week, I thought Osmond was one of the differences in the win. This week, he was still a difference, just not in the same good way. Last week, Indy was playing at home, a place where they haven't lost in over a year. This week, Indy was on the road, a place that's been either up or down for Indy, with no draws.

“I think we’ve played nine away games and won five, so we’re doing well away from home." What's missing from Coach Rennie's statement is that all five of those wins have come against teams who are not currently in a playoff position. My continued concern of Indy's form against "higher level teams" (Coach's words...) is that they struggle to get results. It's Coach's job to highlight the successes to the public. It's my job to think about the legitimacy to his statements. Good results are going to keep you in the race for the playoffs. Bad results against those playoff teams in the regular season don't bode well for success in the playoffs. Until Indy can show consistent success against the "higher level teams," I'm going to continue to be concerned about Indy's playoff success.

It's also become clear that Coach Rennie is losing faith in Kelly as a starter, giving Diakhate his 4th start of the year. Though it looks like Diakhate is going to be on a shorter leash now that Ilic, and hopefully Starikov soon, are healthy as he became a halftime substitute when Indy was forced to chase the game after giving up 2 goals in the first half.

Indy's leading scorer, Tyler Pasher, is no longer a secret weapon. It's been happening for a few games now, but Pasher has been drawing the attention of more than one defender. In the 18th minute of this game, Pasher drew 5 defenders (see screen capture to the left). That makes it difficult for him to do much beyond get dispossessed, particularly when the rest of the forwards are covered by other defenders. Tyler is still going to create chances, but Indy is going to have to find a way to, potentially, use Pasher as a decoy for awhile because teams have figured out that, right now, he is Indy's only consistent offensive threat. When Pasher picked up an unnecessary yellow card 65 yards from goal in the 17th minute, he had to be careful about his effort. He still had his moments, but everything seemed a bit more forced on offense and not as effective on defense.

“At 2-nil you’re chasing the game a little bit, and right before going into halftime I thought we had
a really good claim for a penalty kick." I suspect that Coach Rennie's vocal badgering of the referee or his staff are why we didn't see Rennie on the sideline after halftime. He routinely gets upset about calls, but he must have taken it a step further for this game. Being down 2 goals on the road against a "higher level team" will do that I guess. I do wish I knew what he said to the referees to get himself thrown out of the game.

A few games ago, Newton came back from his injury and I made the Bull Durham/Crash Davis comment about respecting the streak. Since Newton returned, Indy have gone 1W-2L-0D. I'm not saying that Indy would have won those games with Farr in goal, but Indy didn't respect the streak and have seen the downside of success since that game.

Last point.

Last week, I thought Osmond was the difference in how the defense performed. In both goals that Nashville scored tonight, Osmond was involved. Yes, you can, and should, argue that other defenders were back and could have prevented Nashville's goals, but Osmond was the first defender to the ball in each case. In each case, he was the first defender to get beat. While he lost his footing on the first one, he at least managed to push the ball to the middle towards other defenders. In the second (see below), he pushed the ball to the middle, but neither he, nor the other defenders, were effective at preventing the shot.

As I quoted Enevoldsen last week, and paraphrasing him this week, when Indy defends well, it may only take a goal to get a positive result from the game. When Indy struggles to score and make multiple mistakes on defense, there's very little chance Indy is going to get a good result. That's where Indy found themselves tonight. With 3 of Indy's next 4 games being against playoff level teams, we may get a good glimpse of where Indy will be when the playoffs start and will only be playing "higher level teams."

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I think this is going to have to be one of those games where I don't hand out a Game Beckons Game Ball. I just can't pinpoint one player who I feel stands out enough. This was not the kind of result we expect from this team.

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