Sunday, July 26, 2020

Indy Eleven vs Saint Louis FC - 07.05

- Opponent: Saint Louis FC
- Location: West Community Stadium
- Attendance: 
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Barrett (C), Ouimette, Lindley, Gibson, Antley, King, Carleton, Rafanello, Moon

- Substitutions: Conner 68' (Gibson), Pasher 68' (Moon), Watson 80' (Rafanello), Dumas 
- Unused: Farr, Osmond, Walker

- Scoring Summary:
STL - Blackwood 24' (assist Fall)

- Bookings:
IND - Hackshaw 44' (Yellow)
STL - Fall 68' (Yellow)
STL - Umar 83' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jervis Atagana
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Indy's first chink in the armor was on full display today with the first substantial lineup change since the season rebooted. Pasher and Conner were given a rest from the starting lineup and Ayoze and Haworth were still missing from the game day lineup as well. As a result, Rafanello and Lindley picked up their first starts for Indy Eleven and King had his first start of the 2020 campaign. 

Unfortunately, Indy's infusion of different players into the starting lineup played against them as Saint Louis FC bunkered and were very quick to recover on defense to get players behind the ball, stifling most of the Indy attacks. Without Pasher's pace up top to chase down the periodic ball over the top to keep the Saint Louis defense honest, Indy's normal desire to play through the back routinely put 9 or 10 Saint Louis defenders behind the ball. This created very minimal passing lanes and the Indy midfield and forwards struggled to unlock many serious threats on goal, despite having 20 shots and 7 shots on goal. In fact, today's forward line of Moon and Rafanello had 3 shots on target and 2 chances created. The back three of Hackshaw, Ouimette, and Barrett had 1 shot on target, 1 shot off target, 1 blocked shot, and 3 chances created. It's not always a good sign when you can't look at the offensive stats and tell the difference between the forwards and the center backs.

Alternatively, Saint Louis managed just 2 shots, but scored with just one of those on a pass through the back line where Ouimette was pulled too far centrally and Barrett was unable to recover, The goal reminded me of the one that Harris from Sporting KC II scored last week. 

By the time Coach Rennie went to his bench in the 70th minute, with an infusion of pace with Pasher and a Conner for Gibson change, Saint Louis were content to further bunker and 10 to 11 guys behind the ball for most of the final parts of the game. With that many guys back, further plugging the passing lanes, every time Pasher touched the ball, he was met by multiple defenders. Saint Louis basically said, "you [Indy] may find a way to tie or win this game, but you [Indy] are going to have to find a way to do it with somebody other than Tyler Pasher." Indy was unable to find someone else to win the game for them.

With the schedule that teams have to play to get in a 16 game season in such a short timeframe, Coach Rennie is doing the right thing of giving some guys a rest and giving some guys some playing time. However, they are going to have to figure out a way to beat teams in ways that don't always include Pasher. He's also going to need to give the back line some breathers too as Hackshaw, Ouimette, and Barrett are putting in some long shifts and can't be the defensive stalwarts they need, while also providing a significant portion of the offense. I wonder if we'll see Osmond on Wednesday against Hartford Athletic.

Once the groups were announced for the season restart, many (most?) felt that Group E was going to be a race for Indy and Louisville and that Saint Louis and SKCII were going to need to steal points from those two teams to give themselves a chance. Saint Louis did just that in back-to-back games and have placed themselves firmly in the discussion for advancing to the playoffs. It was unlikely that Indy were going to go through the season unscathed, but a draw would have been a welcome result in Saint Louis. Maybe that was Coach Rennie's logic and he thought his team could get it done while resting some players. 

Going into the non-group game against Hartford on Wednesday, the questions become:
  1. Will Coach Rennie adjust the lineup again to give some other players some rest? and 
  2. Will they be able to find some goals from attacking players not named Pasher (remember, the other goals for the season have come from Ayoze, Haworth, Hackshaw, and Barrett)?
After today's result, I expect 
  1. Yes, 
  2. Indy fans better hope so.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
While I'm not a big fan of his over acts of frustration, Carleton was the player who looked to attack more than anybody else (not named Barrett). In a loss where things didn't seem to click as much as Indy fans would have preferred, that's about as good as I can get tonight. 

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