Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 07.01


- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: Memphis AutoZone Park
- Attendance: 8,571
- Final Score: 4-2 W
- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Barrett (C), Ouimette, Conner, Gibson, Ayoze, Haworth, Carleton, Pasher, Contreras
- Substitutions: Moon 63' (Contreras), Ilic 70' (Carleton); Watson 86' (Pasher)
- Unused: Farr, Antley, Osmond, Lindley
- Scoring Summary:
  • MEM – Allen (unassisted) 9’
  • MEM – Carroll (Burch) 16’
  • IND – Ayoze (Haworth) 45+3’
  • IND – Pasher (Moon) 69’
  • IND – Pasher (Moon) 72’
  • IND – Haworth (Pasher) 83’
- Bookings:
  • IND – Contreras (Yellow) 11’
  • MEM – Burch (Yellow) 12’
  • IND – Carleton (Yellow) 13’
  • MEM – Muckette (Yellow) 17’
  • IND – Ayoze (Yellow) 88'
- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

I didn't watch the game in real-time, but was still receiving Twitter updates and texts from family and friends about the team's play. From what I received, being down two goals in under 20 minutes, I expected the team to be playing terribly once I managed to watch the game. To my surprise, it wasn't as bad as I expected. Yes, being down by two goals within the first 20 minutes is not ideal, but it wasn't like they hadn't seen a very similar situation during preseason when they went down by two goals within the first 25 minutes to Bridges FC. Who would have guessed that the first game of the preseason against an amateur side would be able to be used as a learning experience in the first game of the regular season? What the team didn't learn from the game against Bridges FC is that easing into the game can sometimes put your back against the wall for the next 70 minutes. I hope that Memphis 901 FC brought that lesson home a little more than Bridges FC.

Indy's slow start, in combination to Memphis' early high press, put Indy behind, but both of Memphis' goals could have been prevented. The first one was a long pass from the wing to Allen, who was defended by Hackshaw and Ayoze and with Newton in reasonably good position. Nobody closed out Allen, who took a couple touches and put a ball in such a perfect position that Newton didn't even bother making much effort to reach it. So slow defending and down a goal.

The second one, off a Memphis corner kick, again, didn't have much to do with Memphis' press. It did have much to do with poor defending. Carroll had so much time on the far post as the ball came to him that he could have knitted himself a sweater. It probably could have been prevented too. Defenders on the post or no defenders on the post? That's the question. Indy started with Ayoze and Haworth on the posts. Ayoze stayed in his position on the back post, but Haworth drifted away from his position.

If Carroll had managed to push his header a little wide of goal, even further out of Newton's outstretched hands, Memphis had a guy making that run with no Indy defender in position and being held onside by Ayoze on the line. Goalkeepers and teams vary on whether they want players on a post or both, but Indy might rethink their positioning moving forward.

That's not a great way to start a game...

Luckily for Indy fans, Haworth made amends in stoppage time of the first half when he decided to forego a cross into the box and instead placed a pass across the top of the 18 yard line. An on-rushing Ayoze managed to adjust to the bouncing ball affected by the turf of the baseball diamond (have I mentioned I dislike soccer played in baseball stadiums...) and placed a low scorcher to the right side of the goal out of Howard's reach. Who would have known that Ayoze's goal wouldn't be the only goal against the former men's national team goalkeeper?

With momentum going into the locker room and only a one-goal deficit, Indy prevented Memphis from coming out after the halftime break and parking the bus. Memphis had to  maintain their game plan and Indy adjusted to their high press and seemed to wear down Memphis as the game progressed. Indy has played a defense first, counter offense under Coach Rennie and Indy's second goal by Pasher in the 69th minute was the epitome of that play. Moon stole the ball near the sideline about 10 yards from the endline, took a couple of touches before sending a leading pass to Pasher, whose first touch was at the halfway line in stride and at full speed. Two touches towards the center of the field, a third back to his left to spin the defender, a fourth to get inside the box, and a shot between another defender and Howard to the right side of the goal and Indy had tied the game at two apiece.

A couple minutes later, a Memphis defender misplays a ball, Moon collects, takes two touches, looks up to see Pasher breaking for the goal and slots a ball behind another Memphis defender but far enough out that Howard can't go to it and Pasher completes the comeback. Haworth's goal in the 83rd minute was just the icing on the cake for Indy fans.

Going down by two goals early could have lead to back-to-back years of Indy starting the season with a road loss, but they found a way to not only claw their way back to getting all three points. It's a long season and an emphatic come-from-behind win on the road is a good way to build some confidence in both the ability to make adjustments defensively and in the ability to put some goals on the board.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This game's Game Beckons Game Ball isn't going to the player you might suspect. Yes, Tyler Pasher scored twice, including the game tying and game winning goals, and had an assist. Yes, he made the Team of the Week and is in the running for Goal of the Week. He's going to get some love this year.

I'm going to give the GBGB to two players not named Pasher. First off, Evan Newton was credited with 3 saves on 5 shots on goal. Two of those were in the first half and helped stem the tide and keep Indy in the game. Both were from close range and were great reaction saves. The third was as time was winding down and likely wouldn't have affected the final result, but in the 95th minute, Newton was at full stretch to parry away a ball that looked destined for the upper 90. All three saves were big.

Getting the other GBGB was Nick Moon. Last year, Moon was playing for Lansing Ignite in League One. In just his first game with Indy Eleven, he was credited with two assists (though, admittedly, the one on Pasher's 50-yard sprint to the goal could be considered a bit generous as an assist), and  nearly had his own goal by being a split second too late on Pasher's cross that became Haworth's goal. However, I feel like the energy that he brought into the game when he entered in the 63rd minute was exactly what the team needed. Within 10 minutes of him entering, the team scored two goals, both of which he was key in providing. In 27 minutes of action, he had 9 touches. That's efficient. So for the spark, the assists, and in his first game with Indy Eleven, I'm going to reward his effort. Great job Nick!