Thursday, August 27, 2020

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 07.10

- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Lynn Family  Stadium
- Attendance: 4,851
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw (C), Osmond, Ouimette, Conner, Gibson, Lindley, Haworth, Carleton, Pasher, Moon

- Substitutions: Walker 78' (Conner), Ilic 78' (Carleton), Antley 78' (Haworth), Rafanello 87' (Lindley) 
- Unused: Farr, Dumas, Watson

- Scoring Summary:
LOU - Del Piccolo 61' (assist Hoppenot)

- Bookings:
IND - Gibson 37' (Yellow)
IND - Ouimette 75' (Yellow)
IND - Hackshaw 90'+7' (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions
The bad news is that Indy lost in Louisville. Again. Whether it was Louisville Slugger Field or the new Lynn Family Stadium, Indy has never managed a win across in Louisville, with a record of 0W-3D-3L and being outscored 10 - 5. In the past you could (and I did) argue that Slugger Field's conversion of a baseball field converted to a soccer field with an extremely narrow pitch and a large portion of it covered in a turf in the stadium's infield made it difficult for team's to overcome Louisville's familiarity with the stadium. That argument is gone.

The good news is that Indy doesn't have to play there again this season unless it occurs in the playoffs. The next two editions of the LIPAFC will take place in the friendly surroundings of Lucas Oil Stadium, where Indy's record against Louisville is 1W-1D-0L. 

The bad news is that Louisville is doing Louisville things and peaking at the end of the season. More bad news is that Indy's lead over the rest of Group E has dwindled to just 3 over Louisville, who has a game in hand. I still believe that Group E comes down to Indy and Louisville, even if Saint Louis has shown to be better than expected, as long as Indy and Louisville split the season. This is still possible if Indy can get a win in Indy in one of the two upcoming games against Louisville on September 5th and September 16th and draw the other. 

Indy's overall history with Louisville (2W-4D-5L), combined with what I saw tonight, make me wonder if a split is now possible. While the possession stats and the heat map make the game seem like it was a very even game, Indy was anemic in Louisville's final quarter of the field. With two teams as defensively strong as Indy and Louisville, it takes a concerted and concentrated effort to break it down. There were so many examples in this game where Indy would look to counter and Pasher or Moon would find themselves facing four or five Louisville players, forcing them to slow down the attack and realize that none of the rest of the offense was within 20 yards of them and everything would get cycled back into Indy's defensive half. When Louisville broke forward, they did it in numbers and they did it fast.

In the two games against Louisville, Indy has averaged 20% of their passes as long passes, while Louisville averaged 13%. For context, that number has been steadily growing for Indy throughout the season with it peaking at 30% in Pittsburgh in late July, coming immediately back down to 11% in Saint Louis, and then climbing back up to 22.5% the past two games. Some of last week's high number can be attributed to being a man down and trying to buy real estate to catch their breath. Yet, the trend remains as the reliance on Pasher for the offense and the bypassing of the midfield has continued. With Carleton's ability, I think he needed to see the ball more. However, with the slow speed at which Indy routinely went forward, it might not have made any difference how many touches he had. 

Indy generally does a great job of team defending, but there were questionable decisions during Louisville's play that led to their 61st minute goal. Indy doesn't make a lot of mistakes, but when they do, they seem to result in goals for their opponents. 

Indy has another 10 days of rest before they play Louisville again and Louisville will be coming off of 7 days rest so the game should be lacking in effort. LIPAFC 3.0 for the season will kick off 5 consecutive games at home for Indy, including the two against Louisville, two against Sporting Kansas City II, and one against Saint Louis. Indy find themselves in a better position in the table than they might have expected based on their early schedule and who they played in that schedule, but the four iterations of the LIPAFC in a six game span may determine how Group E finishes and Indy needs to get better results than they obtained tonight. Louisville has been on a run of 8 games at home, but if Indy doesn't get at least one win out of their next two games against Louisville, they may find themselves having to travel in their first game of the playoffs and Hartford has looked strong and the chances of beating Pittsburgh three times in a season seems daunting.

Must win next week? It may be.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
It may be back-to-back games, but Newton deserves it again. He came up with a few big saves and couldn't have done anything else with the goal that Louisville scored. He kept the team in the game.

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