Thursday, September 17, 2020

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 07.13


- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Lucas Oil Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Newton, Hackshaw, Barrett (C), Ouimette, Conner, Gibson, Ayoze, Haworth, Lindley, Moon, Rafanello

- Substitutions: Pasher 59' (Rafanello), Antley 72' (Ayoze), Watson 72' (Conner)
- Unused: Farr, Carleton, Ilic, Osmond

- Scoring Summary:
LOU - Lancaster 39' (assist Hoppenot)
LOU - Bone 76' (assist Ownby)

- Bookings:
IND - Ouimette 37' (Yellow)
LOU - DelPiccolo 66' (Yellow)
LOU - Bone 66' (Yellow)
LOU - Hoppenot 73' (Yellow)
LOU - Totsch 79' (Yellow)

- Referee: Kevin Fikar
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions
LIPAFC 4.0 for the year had the same result as LIPAFC 2.0 & LIPAFC 3.0. 

Meaning, Indy Eleven lost. 

In the description of the word "rivalry" from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it includes the statement, "sibling rivalry exists when there is competition or jealousy between sisters or brothers." That's what these games are starting to feel like, and not the definition that the Indy Eleven front office staff want us to believe about the match-up of "rival can also mean "equal" or "peer."" These games have been happening long enough (the 1868 "Bloody Affair" comes to mind) that it's starting to feel like little brother (Indy) is just never going to stop getting his ass kicked by big brother (Louisville). At some point, Indy fans are going to have to accept the fact that a "rivalry" needs to see both teams win, otherwise it's just two teams who are in proximity to each other. Whatever talent Indy has on paper, it isn't being translated into any kind of actual success against Louisville. 

Indy has played 44 league home games since moving to the USL Championship in 2018, with 42 of those taking place at Lucas Oil Stadium. With tonight's loss, Indy have only lost 8 times in those games. Louisville owns 3 of those losses; once last year in the Eastern Conference playoffs and twice this year. Indy's USL regular season record against LCFC is 1W-4D-4L, which breaks down to 1W-1D-2L record at home (3 GF /6 GA) and a 0W-3D-2L record in Louisville (7 GF/12 GA). If you expand that to include all games in the modern era (NASL, USL, USOC, postseason), Indy's record against LCFC is a dismal 2W-4D-7L (11 GF/22 GA), with the record at home being 2W-1D-4L (6 GF/12 GA).

Louisville owns this series in every meaningful category. Even in the games where Indy is statistically similar (as in this game) or even seems to have the advantage, the eye ball test tells me that Louisville is the better team, from top to bottom, than Indy is right now. Indy managed 34 crosses in this game to Louisville's 12 and LCFC had a 0.0% crossing accuracy rate. Indy had 2 shots on target, while LCFC had 3 shots on target. Indy even had a few more go agonizingly close to the post or crossbar. Yet, Louisville scored 2 goals on 3 shots on target. With Pasher and Carleton sitting on the bench, Louisville's finishers were more clinical. Moon and Rafanello continue to show flashes of their ability, but they aren't on the same level as Lancaster, et al. Louisville defenders know their roles and were quick to get behind the ball on Indy's (sometimes painfully slow) counterattacks, providing few uncontested attempts on goal from Indy. Indy's offense seemed a half- to full second slower in their decisions than they needed to be and those extra beats were enough for the Louisville defenders to regroup and stifle most of the Indy threats. 

There were two statements that Coach Rennie made after the game that speak not only to this game, but several times over the season, particularly when it comes to the Louisville games.

"Over the majority of the game, we had lots of chances and didn’t take them, and that’s really the frustrating thing from tonight. ... but it’s just that final ball and final touch has to be a little better. I think sometimes we are in good positions and don’t shoot." 

"Even sometimes when we hardly made a mistake, we’ve been punished, and when we’ve had chances, we’ve not taken them."

I would argue that he isn't wrong. Indy had chances. I would clarify though, that many of them were chances that Louisville's defense quickly turned into half-chances. With the exception of Haworth's unopposed shot from the 6-yard line that he managed to put over the goal, Indy's best chances came from their set pieces, which has been a constant throughout Coach Rennie's tenure. The clinical finisher or poaching forward just has not been a part of Indy's weapon under Rennie. That seems to be the piece that this team really needs to get over the hump against a team like Louisville. A guy that hovers around the goal and is able to turn those half-chances into goals.

Louisville's ability and comfort with each other is why minor mistakes get punished against Indy. Louisville know they aren't going to get many chances against Indy's defense and this game was no different. Yet, they there will be a mistake and they are able to capitalize on them.

Lastly, Louisville struggled out of the gate, but are finding the form that we all expected they would find. They have played Indy enough, and there's enough video on Indy, to know you aren't going to get any major surprises from game to game. Pasher is the only significant goal scorer this year and if you can effectively isolate him and keep him to only a couple of chances, you're going to put yourself in the mix for a win or draw. 

Indy currently has a 25 man roster, but there have been a total of 30 this year. 8 of those 30 are USL Academy contracts who haven't seen a single minute of action. 2 are Yeferson (who the team released back to his home squad due to COVID) and Dumas (who has only seen a total of 76 minutes of action). 1 is a backup goalkeeper who has to be considering his options elsewhere for next year if he wants to progress in his career. 1 was released to El Paso where he has become an immediate starter for Coach Lowry. If you're counting, that leaves 18 players making up the minutes for the team and two of those were playing in League One last year and a 3rd came from an open tryout. Of those 18, 7 have double digit starts, leaving just 4 spots in the starting XI that are "unknowns" on a game-to-game basis. Coach Rennie is going to make his first sub around the 70th minute and despite having 5 subs available to him this year, has only used his full compliment of subs 3 times out of 13 games. 

Coach Hackworth has seen Indy enough the past couple of years to know the strengths and weaknesses of this Indy team, knows he isn't going to get any significant surprises from Coach Rennie, and has been able to find ways to exploit it.

  • Limit Pasher
  • Get guys back quickly when Indy tries to counter
  • Use as much width as possible to stretch Gibson and Conner
  • Press Indy's defense into making mistakes and make good on at least one of them.
For his part, Coach Rennie has not been able to do the same against Louisville.With the current roster, I don't know how Indy overcomes Louisville, even if the roster/lineup can beat 80% of the rest of the conference. Until they unlock the Louisville key though, they're going to struggle to achieve their goal of being the best. I keep saying it, but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Right now, that is Louisville, and Indy can't beat them.

Indy can't sit on this game for too long because the loss opens the door for Saint Louis to push their way into the Top 2 of Group E and send Indy's promising start to the season into an early post-season break. Indy finishes the season with a Saint Louis-SKCII-Saint Louis run and need to get points off of Saint Louis to not feel like the season was wasted, regardless of what may happen in the playoffs.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Ayoze. Only because somebody should get it and he put in a solid 72 minutes. 

(I told you Rennie subs around the 70 minute mark...)

Photos (@DLTPhotog)

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