Sunday, August 9, 2020

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 07.08

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Lynn Family Stadium
- Attendance: 4,850
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Barrett (C), Ouimette, Conner, Gibson, Ayoze, Antley, Carleton, Pasher, Ilic

- Substitutions: Watson 74' (Carleton), Moon 74' (Ilic)
- Unused: Farr, Osmond, Dumas, Rafanello, Lindley

- Scoring Summary:
LOU - Williams 3' (assist Matsoso)
IND - Pasher 59' (assist Carleton)

- Bookings:
IND - Hackshaw 43' (Yellow)
IND - Barrett 55' (Yellow)

- Referee: Calin Radosav
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions
Indy Eleven came into the game with the prospect of facing the defending Eastern Conference champion Louisville City FC a total of 4 times in the next 6 games; twice at home, twice away. In the most recent iteration of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest, Indy headed across the river where the Eleven held a 0W-2D-2L record in the Derby City. While the club hasn't seen much success playing in Louisville, LCFC also hasn't had much success at Lynn Family Stadium, with a 1W-0D-3L record in their brand new stadium. Yet, both teams knew that positive results, but particularly a win, would be important. A LCFC win would have put themselves back into the race of Group E, while an Indy win would have put them 8 points clear of 2nd place Saint Louis. 

Indy started the game as if they were wanting to let LCFC enjoy some success at home. For their part, LCFC started the game like they were tired of not winning in their new stadium and had an effective high press that led to an early goal in just the 3rd minute of play on a well played cross from Matsoso that Speedy Williams headed back across the goal and out of the reach of Newton. Multiple, uncharacteristic giveaways by Indy's back 3 early (and by many players throughout the game) nearly led to a 2nd goal within the 6th minute. The first 10 minutes looked like Indy was still thinking about the last loss against Sporting KC II and look completely outmatched by LCFC. 

Indy began to settle into the game a bit after the 15 minute mark, but LCFC's press created a lot of confusion and scrambling from the Indy defense. Multiple occasions resulted in Ilic, Conner, and Gibson dropping back into the defensive third to try and help with the group defending and providing a clearance.

For extended segments of the game, Indy's decision making in the final third was slow, giving LCFC time to get back into position and be organized against Indy's attack. Conversely, LCFC's intent going forward was much quicker than Indy's defense; resulting in frantic recoveries from Indy. 

Totsch did an impressive job of keeping the league's leading goal scorer, Pasher, from getting any clean touches and not allowing Pasher to run past him with the ball. However, everybody lost site of him in the 59th minute as Carleton received the ball on the right side, looked up, and put a well placed ball behind the back line and in front of Lundt that Pasher was able to run onto and push into the goal. The Pasher goal changed the tenor of the game as Indy knew that a point in Louisville wasn't a poor result and LCFC worked to get the three points. 

The effort, energy, recovery, and decision making of Conner and Gibson make them my preferred dual holding midfield pairing for the Indy Eleven. Coach Rennie has toyed with some other pairings throughout the season, but the Conner/Gibson lineup works the best for me. Maybe it's the chemistry they have developed by being roommates, but having Conner in the lineup brings something to the midfield that Indy fans don't get with the other holding midfielders; a true box-to-box midfielder. 

Indy has a week off before playing Pittsburgh at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 15th, before heading back down to Louisville on the 26th. Indy should be able to get a lot out of the video review of this game, but getting positive results in Louisville in such a short period of time will be difficult. Indy recently had a 5 game in 15 days stretch, and while that run of games was difficult from a personnel and fitness perspective, this current stretch of LCFC-PIT-LCFC-LCFC-SKCII-LCFC will be difficult to achieve positive results from a team that you see so many times in a short duration. By that forth game, Rakestraw and Hauter are going to have to find out birthdays of the players families just so they have new things to discuss during the game. 
A 1-1 draw in Louisville after going down a goal in the 3rd minute is a result that made the bus ride home a little easier. It also keeps Indy 6 points clear of 2nd place Saint Louis (who does have a game in hand). It may not have been the full 3 points, but the point helps keep Indy up top and in control of their destiny.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I know I nearly gave the Game Beckons Game Ball to the holding midfielder duo of Conner and Gibson a couple games ago and that I talked about them above. Yet, I'm still going to give it to them this game. On a night when the back three didn't have their best game as a collective unit, Conner and Gibson picked up a lot of slack, while also helping push forward when they could. Carleton and Pasher may have been the players to bring the game level, but I don't think they would have had that chance if it hadn't been for Conner & Gibson's effort for the rest of the game.

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