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.

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