Saturday, August 31, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 06.23

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Louisville
- Attendance: 9,211
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Ouimette, Barrett (C), Conner, Gibson, Ayoze, Farias, Ilic, Pasher, Rodrigues
- Substitutions: Osmond 46' (Hackshaw), Watson 64' (Rodrigues), Walker 84' (Conner)
- Unused: Farr, Diakhate, Starikov, King
- Goals: Pasher 43' (assist Ilic)
- Bookings: Newton 82' (Yellow); Ouimette 87' (Yellow); Ayoze 90' (Yellow)
- Referee: Mark Allatin
- Adage goals: None

As with most games, I don't typically do much as far as social media during the games and this one was no different. I had one tweet before the game and one afterwards. However, both of them lead me to what I want to discuss with this game.

The tweet before the game was about the fact that I look forward to the day when the #LIPAFC can be played in stadiums solely meant for soccer. Indy's secondary (or tertiary) status within Lucas Oil Stadium is a frustration that Indy Eleven fans have already had to experience when games were switched from a Saturday to a Sunday once the Indianapolis Colts' schedule was released. The Eleven had to adjust their schedule for the Colts' preseason games. That gives a very clear indication of where the team ranks in its use of Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lucas Oil Stadium football lines that can't (won't) be hidden during Eleven matches is another clear indication.

All that being said, I'll take football lines every day of the week and twice on Sunday(s) over soccer games in baseball stadiums. Like many of the minor league baseball stadiums in the Midwest (think Victory Field in Indianapolis and Parkview Field in Fort Wayne), Slugger Field is a very nice facility that seems like a great place to watch a baseball game. However, it's frustratingly difficult to watch a soccer match there. Sight lines are all over the map, some of which have netting partially blocking your view, there's a mixture of grass and turf (including a conversion of the pitcher's mound that I started seeing the process after the game), and the dimensions are short and narrow. All of that combines to drastically affect the way the game is played and the tactics involved. Teams like Louisville that have to deal with it on a regular basis develop some familiarity with it and have a home advantage. Teams like Louisville that have had so many of their players stay with the team for so many years develop a true home advantage that is difficult to overcome. Teams like Indy have to adjust or walk away from Louisville with a loss.

In the first half, Indy was going from east to west, forcing the Indy attack to have to deal with the changes from grass to turf to grass to pitcher's mound, particularly on the left side of the field. Indy have been known to play Tyler Pasher on the right side of the field, but when he and Rodrigues are the two players up top, I fully believe that placing Pasher on the right side of the field in the first half was so that Indy's leading scorer and quick left footed player could limit the times he had to make the transition from grass to turf when he was attacking. While the two players interchanged all night, Pasher spent much more time on the left in the second half when he didn't have to deal with the turf.

The short and narrow field also allowed Louisville to high press Indy's defense without fear of wearing themselves down chasing Indy's normal possession orientated build-up out of the back. The close confines and compact nature meant that passes needed to be sharp and crisp and neither were spectacular in that regard. Indy were nearly 10% less accurate in their passes in this game than their season average. Louisville wasn't any better. Some of that can be attributed to LCFC's defense, but having 20 guys in a 40 yard swath of field makes for difficult passing lanes.

My post game tweet was about it being a hard fought game. Which was an understatement by the end. What started as an intense game, but with a lot of friendly extension of hands during fouls. As the game progressed, fouls became harder, fewer friendly offers of hands. By the end, there were a lot of yellow cards, 80% of which came after the 80th minute mark. Some of that can be attributed to some bad decisions by the referee earlier in the game that could have curtailed some of the physicality later, but it culminated in an 80th minute dust-up when Newton got tried of taking hits from Thiam and expressed his displeasure. What followed was 3 minutes of pushing, shoving, and the referee trying to ease the situation. Given the fouls that continued to the end of the game, he didn't succeed.

In a rivalry game, which has gone from simply a "geographic" rivalry to a true rivalry, a draw for Indy on the road isn't a bad result. Indy picked up the first goal of the game in the 43rd minute on a Pasher goal when LCFC misplaced a ball, allowing Pasher to do what he does best (from the left side of the field at that point). With a lead on the road, normally Indy would have gone into the Rennie Bunker (TM), but the size of the field made that a more difficult proposition than at other venues. LCFC equalized in the 70th minute when second half, and fresh legged, substitute Thiam out-jumped the Indy defense on a set play when Indy couldn't get the ball clear of goal. I would say that Indy's goal was against the run of play, while it seemed like a matter of time before LCFC found their goal.

The draw allows Indy to continue to help themselves in the table. Dane Kelly wasn't included in the LCFC injury report, but he did not make the trip game day roster. With games in hand on the teams above them, the upcoming plethora of games in September will require player management to get as many positive points as possible to determine where Indy finishes in the table. Getting Kelly healthy from his knock last game will be vital during this stretch of games.

As it stands now, Indy has played its last game at Slugger Field as Louisville will be moving into their new digs next season. I asked some Louisville staff about some of the details of the conversion from baseball diamond to soccer field. In response, I continued to hear Louisville folks say, "just 4 more games." However much we as fans can grow accustomed to our team's initial homes, watching them grow and thrive enough to allow the building of soccer specific stadiums allows us to watch and judge teams on their true abilities and not necessarily how they are able to adapt those abilities to play within undesirable field constraints. While their construction is in progress, driving by today I was able to get a quick glimpse (from outside the fence) of how much better it will be to watch next year's LIPAFC game from Lynn Family Stadium than from Slugger Field. This weekend's version of LIPAFC solidified this as a valuable rivalry in USL Championship league and I look forward to next year's continuation of both team's progress.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I regret that he's never received the Game Beckons Game Ball, but Tyler Gibson deserves to finally get some credit from me for his effort and play. He's the Energizer Bunny in terms of effort and mileage and routinely provides cover for the defense while being the first step going forward for the offense. This was not one of his best games statistically, but he was solid in his effort in the tight quarters of Slugger Field.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Charlotte Independence - 06.22

- Opponent: Charlotte Independence
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,039
- Final Score: 3-1 W
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Ouimette, Barrett (C), Conner, Gibson, Ayoze, Farias, Ilic, Pasher, Kelly
- Substitutions: Watson 64' (Kelly), Rodrigues 79' (Ilic), King 87' (Conner)
- Unused: Farr, Osmond, Diakhate, Starikov
- Goals: Ouimette 41' (assist Hackshaw); Conner 53', 83'
- Bookings: None
- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: None

What if I told you that in the 6 years of Indy Eleven's playing history, only 10 players have ever scored a brace in league action. Zayed, Braun, and McInerney all did it twice. Ambersley, Pineda, Steinberger, Saad, Starikov each have one. Kelly did it in the fourth game of this year against Swope Park Rangers. Now Drew Conner, in just his 12th day after being announced by the team and his first inclusion in the starting lineup, adds his name to that list with a 53rd minute game-winning goal and an 83rd minute clincher to complete Indy's comeback win over Charlotte.

Charlotte put themselves on the scoreboard with a 15th minute free kick goal that caromed off of Charlotte's Jackson and bounced into the goal as Newton was diving the opposite direction and could not make a play on the deflected ball. A goal that could be argued was against the run of play at that point in the game and also goes to show the problem with giving free kick opportunities from close range. To their credit, Indy continued to dominate the play in the first half, tripling the number of shots on goals compared to Charlotte. That effort was rewarded in the 41st minute, again off of a free kick opportunity, when Ayoze put a ball near the 6-yard box for Ouimette to run onto. Ouimette missed his initial header, but Hackshaw was waiting on the back post to head the ball back across goal where Ouimette out-jumped Taku (who looked like he was trying a bicycle kick clearance) and headed home the game-tying goal just before halftime.

Speaking of bicycle kicks, Conner's first goal was set up by a bicycle kick from an Indy Eleven teammate. No, not Kelly or Pasher or Ayoze or any of the offensive players. No, this bicycle kick came from defender Paddy Barrett. Back in May when Indy played Lansing in the U.S. Open Cup, I questioned Coach Rennie during the post-game interview if he knew Barrett was a forward. "He's got some good foot skills. We often joke that he's a number 10 in a center back's body. He's got good feet and he's got good skills and he shows those things in training and it's nice to see it in the game, but not too much." I'm going to guess that Coach Rennie isn't going to be too unhappy with Barrett showing those skills tonight.

Conner finished off his brace and the scoring with one of those goals that happen when things are going well for a team, particularly at home. Charlotte's goalkeeper Miller was playing out of the back and instead of chipping the ball to his defenders, chose a more line drive clearance. Conner was in the direct path of the pass and headed the ball right back from whence it originated, but over Miller and into the goal. Most of the time, that ball never finds the net as it ricochets nowhere close to the goal or the goalkeeper manages to get back and clear it. When you're living right, sometimes those kinds of bounces go your way.

With the third goal, Indy solidified their 20th game in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium without a loss and their 21st home game including the U.S. Open Cup game against Lansing. With their 4th win in their last 5 games, Indy maintains pace with the teams above them in the table, all of whom have played multiple more games than Indy. Indy also hope to take that form down to Louisville on Friday night for the 2nd leg of the LIPAFC, which ended in a draw when the two teams met at the end of June.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Drew Conner. As I mentioned, not too many players have scored a brace in Indy's history and I don't think of the others accomplished that feat in their first start. Oh, and he was 95.5% accurate on his passes and 96.3% accurate in Charlotte's half of the field. He scored his two goals on 3 shots on target (2 more off target). It would be easy to say that both of his goals were "poachers" goals, but Eamon Zayed will tell you that being in the right place at the right time is often a good chunk of the battle. Conner put himself in good positions, made good decisions, and was rewarded with a brace. That's a good way to find yourself staying in the starting lineup.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Saint Louis FC - 06.21

- Opponent: Saint Louis FC
- Location: Indianapolis
- Attendance: 10,035
- Final Score: 2-1 W
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Ouimtte, Barrett, Walker, Gibson, Ayoze, Farias, Watson (C), Ilic, Starikov
- Substitutions: Pasher 46' (Starikov), Kelly 58' (Watson), Conner 78' (Ilic)
- Unused: Farr, Osmond, Diakhate, King
- Goals: Pasher 66'; Kelly 81' (assist Barrett)
- Bookings: Conner 84' (Yellow)
- Referee: Elton Garcia
- Adage goals: One

Indy started the 2019 season on the road against Saint Louis in a 2-1 loss, despite getting the scoring started in the 61st minute with Hackshaw. Coming into the game, Indy has hovered around the top 4 for the past 10 weeks. Conversely, Saint Louis FC spent some time early in the year at the top of the table, but have plummeted since week 8 down to as low as 12th and had won just one game in their past 13 games. These are two different teams than the ones who played against each other in week one, not counting the plethora of roster changes that Indy made in the past week.

Notable starting lineup for Indy was that Pasher was absent and Ilic and Starikov were up top in a rare (at least this season) 3-5-2, and captain Matt Watson picked up just his 6th start of the year. Newly acquired Novoa and Rodrigues were unavailable with visa issues and Conner began the game on the bench.

Indy came out of the gates looking rusty from their break in league play, while Saint Louis looked like they wanted to get ahead early instead of having to come from behind. Saint Louis had the opening kick and proceeded to take it and force Newton into a save just 20 seconds into the game. They continued the pressure early with 3 shots in the first 20 minutes, while Indy worked to find their footing by holding an advantage in possession.

Indy had the bulk of the possession in the first half, but Saint Louis managed to get more shots on goal during their limited possession. As has been a recurring statement this year, Indy looked like they were missing somebody who could take on STL's defense or blow by them. Several of Indy's substitutes didn't go to the locker room at halftime, but Pasher had a more immediacy to his halftime touches and became the team's first sub in the 46th minute, taking the place of Starikov. Starikov played well, but is still getting his fitness back and Pasher's pace gave STL something else to consider in their 2nd half tactics that they likely weren't expecting to confront immediately out of the locker room.

Farias has played all season in a very wide position. He spent the entirety of this game with his heels on the touchline and Indy found him time after time, creating just 1 chance, but had 5 crosses. Pasher and Ayoze also followed suite of maintaining width, with Pasher spending more time on the right side. Putting Pasher on the right seems like an odd choice given his propensity and strength with his left foot, but it really forced defenders into the spin cycle when he cuts into the middle of the field. It's what set up his goal in the 66th minute and is something Coach Rennie has utilized from time-to-time this season.

After Pasher's goal, Indy dropped back into a pseudo bunker with Kelly the lone, dedicated, man up top and Pasher and Ilic dropping back further to help with defensive responsibilities. With Saint Louis forced to push things forward to overcome Indy's bunker, it was a long clearance from Barrett that allowed Kelly to run onto a ball and with a deft chip, put Indy up by a 2 goal lead. Kelly has struggled to find the back of the net lately so maybe that's the goal that gets him back into things. The competition for the starting forward positions may factor in to his effort as well.

With the exception of the late free kick goal by Saint Louis' Hinton in second half stoppage time to prevent the clean sheet, Indy looked like they weathered what could have been a trap game. With upcoming games against teams further up the table than Saint Louis, it was important to keep pace as much as possible and not drop points against a team in the bottom of the table. Indy did that and moved back into 4th place, with games still in hand on all of the teams ahead of them. That's a good place to be ahead of a busy end of August and September, where the games in hand will disappear.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

The substitutes; Pasher, Kelly, and Conner. All three of Indy's substitutes made an impact during their time and did exactly what you want them to do. Pasher and Kelly scored goals and new signee Conner brought a physicality during his time, including getting a yellow. Maybe not the exact detail he would have wanted in his debut, but he did what he was required to do in his role off the bench at that point in the game.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Detroit City FC - Exhibition

- Opponent: Detroit City FC
- Location: Hamtramck, Michigan
- Attendance: 4,350
- Final Score: 1-0 W
- Starting XI: Farr, Ayoze, Hackshaw, Osmond, Ouimette, Pasher, Walker, King, Ilic, Farias, Kelly
- 2nd Half XI: Farr, Hamilton (Trialist), Osmond, Barrett, King (Ouimette), Conner, Marion (Trialist), Watson, Farias, Boone (Trialist), Diakhate
- Substitutions: Starikov 64' (Diakhate); Diakhate 82' (Farias)
- Goals: Starikov 71'
- Bookings: Ilic 30' (Yellow); King 47' (RED)
- Adage goals: None

It's difficult to get much information in the way of form from a friendly, so I'm going to keep this relatively brief. I mean, most of the starters watched the second half from the bench, with the exception of Farr, Osmond, Farias, and Ouimette. Even Ouimette wasn't intended to play the second half, but King's 47th minute RED card modified things. A red card where Detroit City FC's head coach, and former Indy Eleven assistant, Trevor James agreed to "decline the penalty" and let Indy continue the game 11 v 11. King was gone though. Then there was the substitution where goalscorer Starikov came in for Diakhate in the 64th minute and then Diakhate came back in for Farias in the 82nd minute.

Obviously, not exactly your everyday scenarios and substitution patterns. Nineteen different players saw minutes on Tuesday. The only Indy Eleven players on the roster who didn't see minutes were Newton (backup GK for the game), Brown (backup backup GK), Nieto (an Academy signing), recent signees Novoa and Rodrigues, and Tyler Gibson (who has played all but 6 minutes of every league game this year). Let me rephrase this another way. Due to all of the recent roster moves, if it wasn't for 3 trialists, Indy would have played a lot more of their starters during a friendly because there was literally ONE field player not utilized.

What we did see was Indy holding possession for the majority of the game and having a nearly 3:1 advantage in shots. Though to be fair to Detroit City FC, the shots on target were much closer to a 1:1 ratio, forcing Farr into making 4 saves, while DCFC's GK Steinwascher made 6 (unofficial stats). Despite Indy's "starting eleven" not playing during the second half, DCFC was much less effective in the second half at attacking Indy's goal, getting just two shots (one on target) in the second half, both of which happened around the 75th minute. Both Indy's offense and defense picked up with the infusion of new signee Drew Conner, Watson, Starikov, and three (yes, three) trialists.

Three trialists. I know that Conner, Novoa, and Rodrigues are intended to offset the departures of Enevoldsen and Kim, but three new players and three trialists with 20 games of a 34 game season in the book with a team ranked in the top 5 in the conference is a tad concerning. Most people, Coach Rennie included, say that it usually takes time for players to gel. With less than half of the season remaining, that doesn't leave much time for the new additions to gel. While Conner and the three trialists performed well, I'm curious to see how they are all utilized moving forward, particularly with the quantity of games that take place in September.

It may have been a friendly, but Kelly's touch and his inability to get shots didn't seem any better. Maybe the roster moves and the addition of Conner will pressure Kelly into form, but I didn't see it having positive results in Detroit. I thought Conner and Ilic played well. Watson was his normal, age-defying self in the second half, as well. But the one player that stood out the most for me, received the fewest minutes of the 19 who saw the field...

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Starikov. In Indy's first friendly away from home in the club's history, it's always nice to get a win. It's particularly nice to get a win with a goal from a player who has been injured since the third game and maintain a clean sheet as well. Starikov looked lively in his 26 minutes of action, particularly the second half stoppage time bicycle kick that just missed wide left. Starikov looked like a player who is glad to be back on the field and looking to make a large impact in the remaining games of the season. With Enevoldsen gone, Kelly continuing to struggle, and teams focusing on Pasher, guys like Conner, Ilic, and Starikov are going to need to step up, and step up quickly, in the last part of the season so it was nice to see Starikov rewarded for his effort in his return.

Eleven Park Locations

As a response to a link to a photo that I placed on Reddit about the possibility of Eleven Park fitting within the confines of the White River State Park near Victory Field, I was asked about doing the same thing for the other rumored locations. This is a summary of my efforts to show the stadium in those locations. Additional discussions about my thoughts on most of the locations are scattered throughout my site.

Please keep in mind, these are rough approximations at the locations based on a screen capture of the aerial from the Eleven Park video, which was then scaled within Google Earth so that the field is roughly 120 yards by 80 yards. A smaller field could translate to a smaller stadium, but that was my basis for placing them within Google Earth.

White River State Park

This is the location that started this post, but it's not one that I ever really considered. I don't think there is enough space for a stadium and, as I mentioned in the Reddit post, there is also an issue in that the Pumphouse is located on the site, which was accepted for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places in the 1980s. This would further reduce the availability of the land.

Broad Ripple

The location of Broad Ripple HS has been discussed, but it would require a number of homes along Haverford Avenue to be demolished to be able to squeeze the stadium (as rendered) into the site. Not to mention the parking and neighborhood disruption.

GM Stamping Plant

So much land... I placed the rendering in with the apartments and office buildings because this site is big enough for all of it to be included. I also placed the image roughly where it would connect to existing streets, but it obviously wouldn't have to be in that spot. So much land...

Lafayette Square

See all of my comments about the GM Stamping Plant.

Twin Aire

This is a drive-in movie theater on the east side of Indy and was mentioned in one of the IBJ articles. It is close to fitting on the site, but I have a feeling it is farther outside downtown than Ersal (and owners) would prefer to be located.

16th Street

This site has come up a few times in my discussions over the years about the stadium. I really have no basis for it other than it did seem to line up with the Stadium for Indiana rendering with the skyline that was shown in it. So I have, once again, evaluated it with the new Eleven Park rendering. Still seems like it might work.

Sand Street

This is the old Valspar lot and is believed to be the most favored location. Might be a couple buildings that don't survive, but I think there is a reason why it has continued to be one of the most talked about locations.

UPDATE - 02/04/2020

Diamond Chain

The Indianapolis Business Journal announced today that the Diamond Chain plant on Kentucky Avenue would be shuttering and relocated to the State of Illinois. I was asked to evaluate this site. In the image, you can see a yellow polygon underneath the Eleven Park stadium rendering. This appears to be the extent of the property owned by Diamond Chain. If so, it would require some adjustments to the stadium layout, but is a close fit. The Indiana Power & Light substation just to the northwest of the site is a significant obstacle to overcome.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Indy Eleven vs North Carolina FC - 06.20

- Opponent: North Carolina FC
- Location: Cary, North Carolina
- Attendance: 4,393
- Final Score: 2-1 W
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Barrett, Ouimette, Walker, Gibson, Ayoze, Pasher, Farias, Watson, Kelly
- Substitutions: Ilic 80' (Watson); Enevoldsen 81' (Kelly); King 90'+5' (Walker)
- Unused: Farr, Osmond, Kim, Diakhate
- Goals: Watson 15' (assist Pasher); Ilic 87' (assist Gibson)
- Bookings: Barrett 84' (Yellow)
- Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
- Adage goals: None

The knock against Indy from many fans, myself included, is that they have struggled to get wins against the "higher level teams." With the exception of about a 25 minute timeframe immediately after the halftime break where Indy spent the majority of the time defending, this was a relatively evenly matched game and Indy's win is a fair result. A result that keeps Indy in the top 3 in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand on both teams above them and a game remaining against each of those teams. By the end of August, when the Eleven only play 4 games, the number of games in hand will increase. By the end of September, it will be a lot easier to determine where each team truly sits in the table. There are a lot of games between now and then, but Indy's 2-1 win over NCFC helps keep them in the discussion at the top of the table and in a position to host a playoff game.

In reading the post-game quotes from the coaches, both Rennie and Sarachan thought their team was the better team. Coach Rennie agreed that the team struggled with Sarachan's halftime adjustments, "but once we did that [adjusted to the corrections], I thought that we looked more likely to score, and I feel like we really deserved it.” To his credit, Sarachan felt his team started poorly in the first half but adjusted well after halftime and felt his team deserved the win. "We get the goal and I think we could have had one or two more to be fair. I didn’t think they threatened a whole lot in the second half, but yet they made a play. ... But certainly in the second half, I would kind of say (NCFC was) the better team, but didn’t show for it."

Which shows that Indy's ability to keep fighting and find late goals took a likely "fair result" of a draw into a win for the visitors. Indy have become known as a team that likes to make it interesting at the end of games, scoring late goals to get positive results out of games. However, Indy's propensity to score late game goals (9 goals in the 75th minute or later) is nearly matched by their ability to score early (8 goals in the first 15 minutes). Watson and Ilic took care of both of these trends with Watson getting the opening goal in the 15th minute, while Ilic scored the game-winner in the 87th minute as a late game substitute. Indy's goals bookended a goal in the 69th minute by NCFC's Fortune from just outside the 18-yard box when the defense didn't step to him quickly enough and he put a perfectly placed shot into the far post upper-90 over an outstretched Newton.

With Coach Rennie unavailable due to his red card at the half of last game, Assistant Coach Guerra took the reigns for this one. Presumably, the starting lineup was created by the entire coaching staff beforehand so it's difficult to judge Guerra on the inclusion of Watson into the starting lineup. However, Watson, who used to play for North Carolina, looked energized to be playing against his former squad. Guerra's substitution pattern differed from Rennie's though. Coach Rennie has been fairly consistent about making the first sub around the 65th minute or in the early 70s. Coach Guerra didn't make his first sub until the 80th minute, but the first two subs, Ilic and Enevoldsen, were immediately effective with Ilic getting the game-winning goal. Honestly, I would have liked to see both Walker (the 3rd and stoppage time sub) and Kelly taken off earlier as I thought both struggled with their touch and effectiveness.

Kelly reminds me a lot like Indy's 2015 season with Kleberson. Both Kleberson and Kelly came into the team with a lot of expectations, complete with a large salary (though I suspect Kleberson's was a significantly higher percentage of the team total than what Kelly's is with this current roster), and both drastically under-performed. The glaring difference between the two players was that Kleberson was sidelined due to an Achilles injury. Kelly is just not living up to the expectations due to poor play.

Maybe that's our fault for having the expectations that we do for Kelly. When you sign the USL's all-time leading scorer, you suspect that by the 20th game of the season, he would have more than 4 goals (all of which came in a 3 game burst 14 games ago). Yet, he's seen time coming off the bench in favor of a young player who made the team from an open trial. He's routinely called offside. Many, like this one pictured, he's staring down the line of his offside position and doesn't adjust. He was called for 3 of Indy's 8 offside calls in this game. His first touch failed him on a number of occasions in this game. He didn't have a single shot on target.

Sometimes a player needs to get a goal to get out of a slump and open the flood gates. Based on his play in this game, I honestly don't see that happening with Kelly right now. It's a good thing that Ilic is getting healthy. Hopefully his goal tonight is a sign of things to come as gets healthy and gets more minutes.

As Enevoldsen stated at the last home game during the post-game press conference, "We have a really good squad. We don't have the biggest squad, but we have really good players at every position..." If you assume that Nieto and Brown are basically for training purposes and not realistic game options and that Crognale won't be returning, that leaves just 19 guys for selection, one of which is backup goalkeeper Farr. Ilic and Starikov's extended injuries further exacerbated the small squad issues, but their return could significantly help provide additional options in the offense. It will also be interesting to see if Ilic and Starikov's multi-game "rests" allow them to supplant Kelly and Diakhate in the starting lineup in the last half of the season.

Tampa Bay and NYRBII also picked up wins this weekend, so Indy needed this win to keep pace with the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Indy now has two weeks of league rest before returning home to play Saint Louis FC. Indy will be looking to exact some revenge after losing their season opener to Saint Louis in March. Indy will be playing a friendly vs Detroit FC in Detroit in the interim, which will help keep them in a competitive mode and give Ilic some more game time minutes.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This week's Game Beckons Game Ball goes to Ilic. It's difficult to have a long-term injury so it's nice to see him finally get back on the field and be rewarded by scoring a goal. Glad to see the former Louisville City foe getting back into competitive minutes.