Sunday, October 13, 2019

Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 06.33

- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Tampa Bay
- Attendance: 7,851
- Final Score: 1-1 D
- Starting XI: Farr, Osmond, Barrett (C), Ouimette, Gibson, Walker, Conner, Ayoze, Ilic, Novoa, Kelly
- Substitutions: Watson 59' (Walker); Pasher 59' (Ilic); Starikov 89' (Kelly)
- Unused: Brown, Perea, Rodrigues, King
- Goals: Kelly 72' (assist Pasher)
- Bookings: Barrett 64' (Yellow); Kelly 88' (Yellow)
- Referee: Lorant Varga
- Adage goals: One

Tilted Field. That's not the name of a new soccer related sports bar, though that would be a great name for that kind of bar, but rather the way this game was played. This game was tilted in the direction of Tampa Bay for the majority of the game. Everything about this game looked like it would end with a Tampa Bay win and Indy making the trip home in a much more precarious position for obtaining a home playoff game.

Indy finished the game with nearly every player's average position on the field being located in their own defensive end. Tampa flipped Indy's normal script and held a 65% possession at half with an 11 to 1 advantage in shots. Finished with a 60/40 ratio and a 24 to 5 shot difference. Indy was playing defense, good defense and last-ditch effort defense, for what felt like the entirety of the first half and were, as Brad Hauter stated at halftime, "lucky to be down one."

"You need to put some wrinkle in because you can't withstand another 45 minutes like that." As Greg Rakestraw foresaw, "I think that wrinkle might be Pasher."

Despite all of Tampa Bay's chances in the first half, it was an unfortunate penalty on a hand ball call that allowed Tampa to go into the halftime locker with a 1-nil advantage, completely wiping out all of the defending that Indy did during the half. Tampa Bay was the better team in the first half, but it's unfortunate that it was a ref's decision to call a penalty on an inadvertent hand ball by Barrett that would have been impossible for him to avoid as he fell to the turf that put Indy into such a precarious position going into halftime.

Tampa began the 2nd half in much the same fashion and finished the game looking like the better team. And yet... In the 59th minute, Coach Rennie made two substitutions; Watson for Walker and Pasher for Ilic. Watson played exactly like we have grown accustomed from the captain, but it was Pasher that started tilting the field back in a way that made it look like Indy could potentially exit Tampa Bay with a point instead of nothing. It's so rare to see a single player completely change the tenor of a game that way that Pasher affected this game. His movement, pace, and ability with the ball started to clear things for other players.

When that happens..."Out of nothing in minute 72!" Osmond to Pasher to Kelly for the equalizer. That's what the addition of Pasher can do for a team's tactics, both offensively and defensively.

As Brad Hauter stated towards the end of the game, "if you walk off with a 1-1 draw, these two teams walk off with very different emotions." There was no reason for Indy to win/tie this game, despite Coach Rennie's post-game comments. There was no reason for Tampa Bay to lose/tie this game. Yet, a draw is how the game ended and Indy left Tampa Bay with a chance to host a playoff game. It wasn't the definitive assertion of their home playoff hopes, but no team in the East has been doing that in the past few weeks, with the notable exception of Pittsburgh who are on a 10 game undefeated streak to close out the season.

A draw on Wednesday night can get Indy the much needed home playoff game, but given that their opponent just lost to Louisville on Saturday night by an 8-3 scoreline, Indy should want to show more dominance of SPR than just a draw. Additionally, with Indy's away record (6W-9L-2D) versus their home record (undefeated at 12W-0L-4D), Indy needs to make no mistake about this game and get ahead early and keep their foot on the gas until the end.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Pasher's insertion into the game clearly made all of the difference in the final result so it would be easy to give Pasher the game ball, but I'm going to have to give it to The Defense for this game. The defense was under constant pressure, was forced to make last-ditch effort after last-ditch effort, and kept Tampa Bay off of the board for the entire game if you don't count the questionable call that lead to the penalty. Without that effort, Indy could have been behind by a large margin and Pasher's insertion would not have mattered. So this game's Game Beckons Game Ball goes to the collective defensive effort.

Final Note:

Guenzatti's chicken dance after scoring the penalty kick is a classless way to celebrate a goal. I don't care if that is your normal post-goal celebration, realize the situation of:
1) getting a penalty kick on a questionable call,
2) penalty kicks are heavily favored to the kicker, and
3) you scored it on a young goalkeeper who has had very few minutes this year as the backup keeper.

Do not run at the keeper with your chicken dance. Be a professional. Score your goal and celebrate with your teammates somewhere else.

I was glad to see Drew Conner stick up for his keeper in that situation. That's kind of his personality, but it still was good to see somebody do it.

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