Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mark Lowry announced as new Indy Eleven coach and Technical Director

Photo Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre
for El Paso Locomotive
Indy Eleven officially announced today that the club's fourth (permanent) coach, as well as its new Technical Director, is Mark Lowry. Mark comes to Indy Eleven from El Paso Locomotive, where he lead the team to three playoff appearances in the club's first three seasons, reaching the conference final in the first two seasons, and a record of 42W-29D-19L, "including playoffs and the U.S. Open Cup." The El Paso press release included the following quote from Lowry after the Western Conference quarterfinal loss to Oakland Roots:

“The three years I’ve been here have been great,” shared Lowry after the Western Conference Quarterfinal. “I felt the love from the fans every single time we stepped on the field, personally. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done and what we created here over the three years. They are a huge part of that. We’ve won, we’ve scored goals, we’ve had fun, and celebrated with them. Those are memories that will live with me forever and will hopefully live with them forever as well. There will be lots more of those in the future.” 

Hearing his voice in that press conference from November 5th, in hindsight, it almost makes me wonder if he knew then that he would be headed to Indy. Based on my inquiries to Indy Eleven last week, I have to think he probably did. It's a bit ironic that the person that officially replaces Martin Rennie was the coach that handed Indy a 2-nil loss on June 9th prior to Rennie's on-field, post-game, unofficial resignation on June 15th against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

After El Paso announced Lowry's departure, I immediately tweeted that I wondered if the coaching carrousel was bringing Lowry to Indy Eleven. Simultaneously, I reached out to some people whose opinion I trust and one told me that it was, but that "you didn't hear it from me," while the other one said, "no comment," but then praised my intelligence. Shortly after all of that, Jeff Reuter at The Athletic tweeted that their sources were indicating the same thing. For some reason, Jeff's tweet was more popular than mine. Oh well. By the end of the business day, the El Paso news sources had an interview with Coach Lowry where he confirmed that he would be going to Indy.

I laughed out loud when I heard the interview clip because earlier in the day I had said, "If nothing else, @IndyEleven continue to be able to sell guys on the "long-term goals of the club." Rennie & players routinely stated it & I bet @CoachMarkLowry says it when he is officially announced." 

It didn't even make it to today's official announcement, as Coach Lowry stated in the clip, "Indianapolis is a market where they've had that aspiration and they've tried before [moving to MLS]. I know they're still ambitious to do that and it's a market that can have a case for an MLS team and hold an MLS team. So that's all, that's in the back of my mind." As Colin Deaver indicated in the beginning of the clip about Indy Eleven, "Ownership has long wanted to try to make the jump to MLS and if they do so, Lowry would get a shot at that level. Plus, if he's successful in Indianapolis, he would also make himself even more attractive to clubs at higher levels of soccer." I think Lowry's got a better shot at the latter scenario than the former, but either way, he's being pragmatic about his goals, particularly for a 36-year old coach. 

Indy Eleven made all of that official today. When I asked what he thought about the hiring, former Indy Eleven President and General Manager Peter Wilt stated, ""I love it. Surprised he was available. Proven head coach. Knows the league. Respected by his players. Great hire." Current Indy Eleven play-by-play announcer Greg Rakestraw provided similar praise of the hire, stating,

"I'm a huge fan of this hire. In his previous stops in Jacksonville and El Paso, it hasn't taken long for Mark to turn teams into consistent winners. I think this speaks to the power of the Indy Eleven brand and fanbase that Mark would feel comfortable leaving what he had established in El Paso to make the move to Indy."

Greg's television lifemate and color commentator, Brad Hauter is also a big fan of the hiring of Mark Lowry, stating, 

“I’m very excited about Coach Lowry coming to lead the team. From back in the Armada - Indy eleven days, I enjoyed the way his teams played and felt he was able to get more out of his players then people expected. What he did in El Paso this year was incredibly impressive and I think naming him this far in advance of the season allows him to create the roster he wants. He has shown he can win at this level and I think it’s a great fit!”

As for me, I'm ecstatic about the promise of what Lowry can bring to Indy, having began intently following El Paso after Dylan Mares joined the team in March 2020. After Macca King joined the squad in August of that year, I began to watch even more closely, even indicating that September, that "I have become a fan of @eplocomotivefc and the way @CoachMarkLowry has them playing." In August of this year, I tweeted, "I'm an @IndyEleven supporter but I really like watching @eplocomotivefc play." For my article this year regarding my journey into the Scottish Professional Football League, I had watched enough of their games to know that their midfielder Nick Ross was from Scotland, so I reached out to Derick Fox, their Manager of Communications (and always helpful to me), to get comments from Nick. In August, while pointing out the anniversary of the last hat trick scored by an Indy Eleven player, I noted that Lowry was on the bench for the visitors that day, the Jacksonville Armada, coached by Tony Meola at the time. I'm going to come back to that tweet in a minute, but I think I may have been willing this move for the past two years...

While El Paso plays on a baseball field (and I have repeatedly stated my hatred of those fields for soccer), Coach Lowry had the team play a very possession oriented style of play, but in a more attack minded way. Where Indy Eleven fans have seen a very defense minded style of play the past four years under Rennie and Rogers, El Paso maintains a very solid defensive line, but has a more attacking presence than we've seen out of Indy in recent years. There are about a dozen players on that roster that I wouldn't mind seeing make the trip to Indy with Coach Lowry; Dylan Mares, Macca King, Richie Ryan, Nick Ross, Jerome, Borelli, Carrijo, Solignac, Herrera, Yuma, Luna, Ketterer. Though, I'll feel a bit bad about it for the rest of the El Paso fans.

As I mentioned in tweets today, I might have to rethink my list of what I thought might happen to the current Indy Eleven roster this off-season. One of the players in my "Possibly Gone" category was Karl Ouimette, because of his reduced minutes late in the season, he was a Rennie man having been here since Rennie's first season, and he might be out of contract. However, as noted in the tweet embeded above, Ouimette was on the Jacksonville roster when Lowry was an assistant there. If Lowry liked what he saw in Ouimette's loan at the end of that season, we may see the two reunited again. I think Ayoze, Moon, Hackshaw, Timmer, Arteaga, Law, Wild, Adewole, and Ledesma could all fit into Lowry's system of play as well. 

This was the first step that had to take place this off-season for Indy Eleven. Now that this domino has fallen, expect to start seeing player announcements in upcoming days or weeks as Lowry takes inventory of what players are contractually obligated to return, what ones he might want from the rest, and what other players he might want to bring in from other squads. It's notable that of the names I listed above for El Paso that I wouldn't mind seeing come with him, Jerome and Richie Ryan were on that 2016 Jacksonville team. From the current El Paso squad, Matt Bahner and Bryam Rebellón have also played at both locations for Lowry as well. If you're wanting to do a deep dive of players that might be on next year's Indy Eleven roster, a review of past Lowry teams will provide you a good indication of the style of player he prefers, and may even provide you with some actual names.

Indy Eleven's post-season was going to be a busy one, but today's announcement of Mark Lowry is a positive step in the right direction.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Indy Eleven 2021 Recap & 2022 Off-Season Outlook

All it takes is a look at Indy's timeline to the right to see why the Eleven are spending the post-season watching the playoffs, rather than participating in them. They had one three-game undefeated streak, and a couple of two-game undefeated streaks, but could never win more than two games in a row, and they did that just once. The team had a -15 goal differential, scoring just 32 goals in 32 games. 

Indy signed 26 new players for the season, including four last-ditch effort signings in mid- to late-September. Overall, the team had 40 players that were signed for the 2021 season. Admittedly, five of those were players that were signed and then shipped somewhere else before the season ever started (Newton to Vancouver Whitecaps, Pasher to Houston Dynamo, Penn drafted by Inter Miami, Guitar drafted by Chicago Fire and then subsequently loaned to Memphis, and Cal Jennings acquired by LAFC and then subsequently loaned to Las Vegas). However, Indy had 28 players see playing time this year, including the first time the team has ever played 3 goalkeepers in a season after the team acquired Eric Dick on loan after Jordan Farr was injured. There were also another 9 players that saw time during the friendly against the Chicago Fire (mostly Academy players). That's a lot of inconsistency in the lineups from game-to-game.

The most common refrain about this team is that on-paper they should be performing better than they did. There is a ton of talent on the Indy roster, but for some reason it just never consistently clicked. Some of it can be attributed to injuries in key locations; Farr, Hackshaw, Cochran, Haworth, etc. all seeing extended injury spells. Some of it can likely be attributed to tactics. Some of it can be attributed to bad luck and bad bounces (see Memphis game in June).

A lot of how Indy moves on from this season will be dependent on the next coach and the next group of players. There are going to be some guys who are returning due to contractual obligations, but Indy is primed for yet another scorched earth rebuild. Let's get into all of that now and forget about this year's 9W-8D-15L season.

Looking to 2023


This isn't a complete regurgitation of what I wrote last year, but it's close since almost nothing has changed from a fan's perspective. The team announced that they were going to announce a location by the end of March. The end of March came and went and many suspected the announcement was being delayed due to Indy taking on the task of hosting the entire men's NCAA Division 1 basketball tourney, from start to finish. As the year progressed, and the season finished, no announcement has been made. The current statement from the team is that "land acquisition" is underway. Where and why it is taking so long are complete unknowns. Other than those details, here is a regurgitated run-down of a few of the key points from the law that provides some of the funding for the stadium:

  • Indy still have approval from the state legislature to build a development thanks to Senate Enrolled Act 7. 
  • The stadium and development still need to be within Marion County. 
  • The stadium and development can be "discontigous," but within 1 mile of each other. 
  • Indy Eleven's ownership group has to provide 20% of the cost of the stadium, whether up-front or throughout the life of the loan. 
  • Final approval needs to go through the State, City of Indianapolis, and the Capital Improvement Board.

In last year's review of the season, I indicated that it was my understanding that that the team intended to use Lucas Oil Stadium "for the foreseeable future," which I thought would include this year. That was obviously not the case as Indy played at Carroll Stadium in 2021 and will be playing there in 2022. Now Carroll Stadium is being discussed as the location "for the foreseeable future." In an interview that Nicky Law did with the Soccer Snobs Podcast, Nicky described the field at Carroll, saying, "it's bad. It's probably as bad as I've played anyways...Struggle to walk for next few days after." Obviously, that's disappointing. Was it a factor in why Nicky couldn't play in the final two games of the season? I don't know, but I'm sure it didn't help.

We do know that the Lafayette Square Mall site looks to be completely off the table as the IBJ recently had an article about how the current owner of that property is going to develop the land. While it includes soccer fields, it doesn't include a stadium. I had a series of tweets in early October where I discussed the use of the old GM Stamping plant site, which is now owned by Elanco, due to an interview that Ersal did with Seth Morales of the Morales Group. There were some intriguing statements from Ersal, but it's all just guesswork at this point. Some folks raised the idea of the property on 16th Street across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I evaluated that in mid-September. 

Before all of that:

I do not have any other updates on a location nor do I feel like speculating about any other locations, having covered the stadium multiple times over the years. If I get any hints of a direction, I'll post another stadium specific article.


I was correct in last year's off-season outlook that Rennie would return for the 2021 season. I didn't expect, though, that he would have a controlled meltdown on camera with Rakestraw and Hauter after the Pittsburgh game in June and that the next day he and the team would "mutually part ways." As I indicated in that article, "Officially, Rennie led the team in 99 games, with a 45W-35L-19D record, or a 45.5% win percentage (or getting at least a point from a game 64.6% of the time). Counting a win in a friendly against Detroit City FC in August 2019, Rennie officially reached the #CenturyClub for Indy."

Thrown in as interim coach was Max Rogers, a recent addition to the assistant group. He, Phil Presser, and Andy Swift coached by committee, but Rogers was the face. Rogers finished this season with a 6W-7D-11L record. A record that is doubtful to keep him around as the permanent coach moving forward.

To date, there are only rumors about the new coach, most of which are probably (or are completely) incorrect. Everybody I have asked that I trust to give me an honest answer have said that very few people in the Indy Eleven organization know the status of the coach hiring search. Though I was told that of the 100+ candidates that expressed interest after Rennie's departure, the search has been whittled down to a single person. An announcement could be forthcoming, depending on when pen meets paper. Honestly, with the way the coach carousel has gone this year, I can't even begin to guess who it might be. Some very high profile names have been mentioned to me as having interest and some very high profile names have been mentioned as having no interest (a certain coach from a team down I-65 falls into this latter category).


The 2021 season was the fourth season under Coach Rennie (and then Rogers). As I've discussed over the years in these, it seems like the majority of the player contracts for Indy Eleven have the appearance of 2 year contracts or 1 year contracts with a 2nd year option. With this year's rebuild, it's difficult to say how many of the guys are on the former and how many are on the latter. However, without a permanent coach announced yet, I don't expect to see any player announcements until the coach is announced. Between the contracts and what style of play the new coach wants to impart, player announcements might be awhile. The ability to guess which players might be returning is a crap shoot in the best of years. This year with the introduction of a new coach after the last coach did a rebuild the year before, it might be an impossible task, particularly if some of the players are contractually obligated to return. Based entirely off of nothing, here are what players I expect might be somewhere else and who might be returning.:

Probably gone:

  1. Liu - Aidan was on loan and managed just 44 minutes this season, all of them late in the season as injuries forced Rogers to dig deep into the bench. History has indicated that guys with that amount of minutes don't stick around for a second season.
  2.  Haworth - Guessing this year was the second year of a two year contract, and Carl managed just 50 minutes this season due to injury. While only 32 years old and still talented, this one will come down to what the new coach is looking for in players and if Haworth fits into that system.
  3. Seagrist - Another player loaned from a larger club, Inter Miami, Patrick's minutes were likely exactly what Inter Miami wanted to see in his development. Whether he returns to Miami and stays is not part of my evaluation, but I bet he doesn't return to Indy next season.
  4. Moon - Every year, there seems to be at least one player that we all want back that finds more money somewhere else. Like Haworth above, Moon has been here two years and is likely out of contract. Other teams have noticed Moon and I fear he's gone.

Possibly gone:

  1. Ayoze - at Ayoze's age, he might have difficulty finding another team, though not because his talent has waned. Ayoze is still quite often the most talented player on the field and whose first touch, intellect, and vision of the field will keep him on the field another year if he desires continuing. His age, though, may be to a point where he's ready to retire. However, it's anybody's guess on whether he drinks some more from the fountain of youth he's found and returns for another year to take a beating on the turf at Carroll.
  2. Ouimette -  Karl was a Rennie man and his minutes waned at the end of the season for Rogers with the introduction of the late season signings. This will be another where it will depend on the coach that is brought in on whether "Beans" is with us for another season. 
  3. Vassell - Talent showed up in moments, but his ability to maintain the ball concerns me a bit. Whether the new coach shares that concern could determine whether Peter is back next year.
  4. Farr - He's beloved here. He's now also beloved in San Antonio. You don't become an emergency signing one day and then start for the team the next day without having ability. The fact that all of that happened for Jordan, and is getting to continue playing in the post-season, means that at least one team took notice of his ability and they are in the Western Conference. Farr needed regular minutes and he got them this year. I think he's gone.

Possibly returning:

  1. Hackshaw - May be the best left back in the league. Unless Hackshaw wants to be somewhere else, and he just finished year 3, the next coach would be hard pressed to find another player with his ability and talent, and he already has a connection here.
  2. Adewole, Ledesma, Partida, Doyle - I'll lump all four of these guys in here together for the same reasons. Maybe they were willing to sign a short-term month-long contract, but I would be surprised if they weren't signed with the intent that they would be returning next year. So unless something drastic happens with their contract with the next coach, I expect all four of these guys back.
  3. Gutjahr, Buckmaster - Young guys with a local connection. Likely enough for them to stick around. Again, subject to the next coach.
  4. Edwards - I have concerns about Edwards ability to consistently play out of the back, but he showed his ability to stop shots on numerous occasions this year. Not sure if he is at full-time #1 level yet, but proved to be effective when forced into action. Second year of a 2 year contract or option on the second? 
  5. Timmer - Timmer proved his versatility this season, playing in a number of positions. I can see him as a dedicated holding midfielder in the next coach's formation. Given the contract issues, his versatility could be something that the next coach can utilize.
  6. Cochran - All going to come down to next coach and existing contract requirements.
  7. Sissoko - Same as Cochran.
  8. Koffie - Same as Sissoko. 

Hope they return:

  1. Arteaga - Team's leading scorer. Poacher with a non-stop engine. Hope he's back.
  2. Law - For me, it was Nicky and Ayoze as the top talent on the team this year. It would be a shame if he didn't return. He has expressed that he wanted to make the move to the States for awhile. Whether he saw Indy as a stepping stone to somewhere else could be a possibility, but I had a gut feeling that he wouldn't have made the jump without a guaranteed two year contract.
  3. Wild - Much like Arteaga (and Moon), his desire to attack the goal was never in question. Whether he could effectively do that when forced to kick with his right food is another story. However, another year with Arteaga-Law-Wild and their familiarity could prove to be key.

Final Thoughts

With back-to-back seasons out of the playoffs and the amount of budget that Indy has compared to other teams, the expectation will be that the coach and the players will have to be an immediate impact. Some familiarity between players might be enough to see a good portion of the roster return. 

Carroll Stadium may be the place that many fans hold dear to their hearts, but Indy need to take a tangible step towards Eleven Park, in whatever form that takes right now. The team moved off the bottom rung on the stadium, but their persistent placement on that next run has started to make fans believe that the stadium won't happen. "Land acquisition" needs to change to questions about the design and construction of the stadium. While it's basically an amateur team, Indy's addition of a women's team in the USL-W League is a key step to make me think that Indy might move to the USL women's Super League in the near future. A stadium will help with that addition. Team officials have indicated to me that the team is working on the women's team details, but wouldn't provide a timeline for that. For good reason: see the above discussion of the team's announcement of a stadium announcement by end of March 2021. 

Indy is going to have a busy off-season. New coach. New players. Stadium announcement? Every single detail of a women's team. Strap in Indy fans, it's going to be a busy off-season.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 08.33


- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: AutoZone Park
- Attendance: 4,015
- Final Score: 3-0 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Buckmaster, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Partida, Moon, Ayoze (C), Vassell, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Gutjahr 61' (Sissoko); Moon 61' (Vassell); Liu 76' (Arteaga)
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Hackshaw, Ouimette

- Scoring Summary:
MEM - Lamah 2' (assist Salazar)
MEM - Murphy 32' (assist Kissiedou)
MEM - Fortune 56' (assist Kissiedou)

- Bookings:
MEM - Fortune 7' (Yellow)
IND - Vassell 25' (Yellow)
MEM - Reynolds 66' (Yellow)
IND - Moon 80' (Yellow)
MEM - Carroll 82' (Yellow)
IND - Partida 85' (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Franz
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Would you expect anything less from Indy Eleven this year than a 3-0 loss to close out a season that has been underwhelming and disappointing? Last year's team finished like a semi-truck tire that was showing its issues and then explodes violently on the interstate. This year's team was more like a tire with a slow leak. Indy tried to put some more air in the tire with some late season signings, but Indy found themselves on the side of the road in Memphis with a tire that just couldn't go any further.

On paper, this team seemed like it should have been a contender. In results, Indy finishes the season in 6th place in the Central Division, with a 9W-8D-15L record and a different coach than which they started. Haworth played just 4 games. Hackshaw couldn't play the final 7 games. Cochran couldn't play in the final 11 games. Farr missed 8 games in the middle of the season. Law and late season addition Ledesma missed the final 2 games. Wild missed the final 3. Vassell missed 7 games due to international team duty and difficulty getting back into town. Seemingly, if things could go badly, they did.

This game was no different. Even the USL match center was ready for the Indy season to be complete, as it took a break for about 20 minutes of game time and even restarted the clock a few times despite being 60+ minutes into the game.

Memphis got on the board early in the 12th minute as Salazar and Lamah easily worked themselves around the Indy defense; thereby allowing them the ability to sit in and knock the ball around as much as they wanted. Knowing Indy was going to want to press the issue if they wanted the draw/win, Memphis was content to play keep away when they could, bunker when needed, and counter at key opportunities. At no point did Indy look like they were going to win this game after giving up that early goal. A Kyle Murphy goal in the 32nd minute put this game to bed with 58 minutes of game remaining. The 56th minute (offside) goal by Fortune just made the game difficult to watch for Indy fans as the Eleven didn't put a single shot on target in the second half. 

The slow tire leak finally put Indy on the side of the road. 

Also of note was that Ouimette was not in the starting lineup, which means he finishes the season (and maybe his Indy Eleven career?) at one game less than 100 starts for the club, which would have made him the first player to hit that mark. When Karl hit the 99 game start mark with 6 games remaining, I really thought we would see our first Indy player with that milestone, but Ouimette played 18 minutes total in the final 6 games. Not sure why he fell so far out of favor with Rogers, but Ouimette didn't have much say in the final games of the season.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Ayoze. For no other reason that he's about to turn 36, playing like he's found the fountain of youth.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Indy Eleven vs FC Tulsa - 08.32



- Opponent: FC Tulsa
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,499
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Farr, Buckmaster, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Partida, Moon, Ayoze (C), Vassell, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Moon 65' (Sissoko); Gutjahr 86' (Vassell); Ouimette 90' (Koffie) 
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Hackshaw, Liu

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Vassell 71'| (assist Ayoze)
TUL - Johnson 78' (assist Marlon)

- Bookings:
TUL - Fenwick 32' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 43' (Yellow)
IND - Adewole 72' (Yellow)

- Referee: Melvin Rivas
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

As a result of Tulsa's Wednesday win against Atlanta, this game meant absolutely nothing as it related to the Central Division standings...from Indy's perspective. Tulsa's 4-0 win against Atlanta United 2 finally put Indy on the wrong side of the math. Indy would be spending the playoffs like the rest of us; watching from the comfort of our homes instead of at the stadiums. However, Tulsa knew that a draw against Indy would secure their spot in the playoffs. So, one team was playing just hard enough to not lose and the other was playing for pride.

Indy started the game without Law, Ledesma, or Wild on the game day roster, and Moon was on the bench. While Indy has other options for their offense, those are four dynamic players to not have at your disposal. As a result of each team's goals for the game and Indy's roster, Indy started the game dominating possession, but with very little to show for that possession. Tulsa's back four and midfield set a wall that Indy couldn't find a way to break. The game was evenly played, with both Indy and Tulsa getting 9 shots, and Tulsa edging Indy 5 to 4 on shots on target. 

Then Indy scored in the 71st minute off a rocket from Vassell and the entire plan changed for Tulsa. The draw was now out of play. With upcoming games on Wednesday and Saturday against a surging Memphis and a potential other playoff team in OKC, Tulsa decided that they needed to go for the win in Indy rather than wait. Seven minutes later, Tulsa equalized from a scrum off of a free kick. 

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
The good news is that Indy held on for the draw in front of their fans on "Fan Appreciation Night" to give the last part of the season something resembling positive results, with a 1W-3D-1L record in their last five games. 

Indy was also able to celebrate another player reaching 100 appearances with the team as Ayoze reached the milestone with this game. It's difficult to say how many more games Indy gets with Ayo based on his age, but even though he'll turn 36 years old in November, he's still playing better than many guys in this league. We hated to see him play against Indy when he was with the Cosmos, but definitely glad we've been able to get 100 games for Indy. 

Additional Thought

Remember last game when I said that you're going to get some "NO NO NO NO NO" moments from Farr. This one exemplifies it. "This is trouble," is exactly right Brad. I'm not sure why Jordan thought he needed to come out that far, but it nearly put Indy down early in the first half.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
Despite my regular concerns about Vassell's ability to hold onto the ball, the guy played his ass off in this game and he was unafraid to take shots on goal. Something that the team drastically needed because Indy had 0% accuracy on 8 crosses. Vassell, on the other hand, was unafraid to shoot whenever he got the chance. Vassell was responsible for 3 of Indy's 4 shots on target. 

It may not have been the game winner that the team wanted, but it was enough to get Vassell the GBGB.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 08.31



- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,499
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Farr, Buckmaster, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Partida, Moon, Ledesma, Law (C), Arteaga
- Substitutions: Ayoze 72' (Ledesma); Vassell 73' (Moon); Gutjahr 79' (Partida)
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Ouimette, Sissoko

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 85'

- Bookings:
LOU - DelPiccolo 43' (Yellow)
LOU - Gomez 78' (Yellow)
LOU - McCabe 82' (Yellow)
IND - Buckmaster 90'+2' (Yellow)

- Referee: Ricardo Fierro
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
Indy Eleven came into the game against Louisville with 1W-1D-1L record this season, with Louisville having a history of getting positive results in games held in Indianapolis (in all locations really, but we'll keep it to Indy for this discussion). Before the game, Indy held a 2W-5L-1D record with 6 goals for and 14 goals against across all competitions held in Indianapolis. Thanks to an 85th minute goal by Arteaga, Indy walked away from the game with a win, won the season series, and kept LOU out of the top spot in the Central Division, now held by Birmingham. The win was the first step in keeping Indy's playoff hopes alive. The front office spelled out what it would take in this game's preview, so let's run through it quickly with some edits and emphasis from me:

When it comes to possible postseason inclusion, “The Math” has finally caught up to Indiana’s Team, which knows it must win Saturday – and over the following two weekends – in order to keep its slim USL Championship Playoff hopes alive.

Alas, here’s all that needs to happen for the Boys in Blue to make a mind-bendingly complicated run to the postseason come to fruition:

  • Indy wins its final three games (would earn maximum of 40 points)
    • Louisville - Check
    • Tulsa - 
    • Memphis - 
  • Tulsa (currently on 39 pts.) loses their final five matches
    • Tulsa would end on 39 points - drew to Atlanta tonight, putting them on 40 points
    • TUL owns fourth tiebreaker – regular season wins vs. in-division opponents – over IND (would be 10 vs. 11) - Ruh roh, it seems like the FO had a mistake here because even with Tulsa's result last night, Indy still isn't officially out of the playoffs. Though, a Tulsa non-loss does that, no matter what Indy does in the next two games.
  • OKC Energy (currently on 36 pts.) loses their next two matches AND defeats TUL in season finale
    • OKC would end on 39 points - play today against Birmingham and a win for OKC seals Indy's fate.
    • OKC owns second tiebreaker – goal differential in head-to-head meetings (5 to 4) – over IND
  • Atlanta United 2 (currently on 34 pts.) ties or loses to its next match to Memphis AND defeats Tulsa in its season finale - lost to Memphis
    • ATL could end on 37 or 38 points
    • ATL owns first tiebreaker – head-to-head regular season record – over IND
As Mr. Incredible says, "math is math," and right now that math looks like it has finally caught up to Indy, despite playing one of their better games. I receive the press releases for both Indy and Louisville and both teams had an argument for them being the better side and deserving of the win. Looking at all of the stats and putting on whatever rose-colored glasses you might be wearing as a supporter of either team, they're both right. This was an even game and some more clinical finishing by either team and this could have had a very different result to it.

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
I had two key notes in my book as I watched the game (finally back in the stadium after my back surgery). The first note was in the first half and I wrote that either or both of the Manu's would be getting a yellow card in the second half. Somehow, neither of them did. I'm not perfect.

My second note was at halftime when I wrote that this game had the feel of a game that was going to be decided by a single significant mistake. Given how the Indy season has gone, my fear was that mistake was going to be made by Indy. Fortunately for Indy, that mistake actually happened in the 85th minute when a Nicky Law cross/chip to about 8 yards from the goal line was attempted to be cleared by Gomez, who swung and missed, and the ball dropped perfectly to Arteaga who powered it home past Hubbard. Cue the smoke and cue the archery.

In Louisville's attempt to find the equalizer, Arteaga nearly had another and Vassell had a chance too in the closing minutes. In the end, the single significant mistake by Gomez was what decided the game and Indy's fans rejoiced a much needed win against a rival, not caring about the other results that could go against them. 

For further proof that I really don't know what the hell I'm doing and why anybody would read what I have to say...

In the 72nd/73rd minute, Max Rogers subbed off Ledesma and Moon, who I thought had been the most dynamic players moving forward for most of the night. In fact, I wrote in my notes that Moon seems to be the only player whose first instinct is to go forward, rather than backwards. He will make a pass backwards, but he seems to do it begrudgingly. In a game where Indy had to get the three points and needed to score goals, it seemed like an odd choice, particularly for Vassell who I have thought all season has had difficulty holding onto the ball and is easily dispossessed. Yet, after that substitution, the heat map confirms what the eyeball test believed to be true. The field was tilted towards LOU's goal and twelve minutes later, Arteaga found the back of the net and the defense held on to give Indy the win.

Rivalry games in lower division soccer seem like they are mostly for the fans because the players come and go so frequently that it's hard for the players to be as invested in the rivalry. So the fans' explosion of joy after the win was cathartic against a team that has had their number over the years, but after the game Max Rogers stated, “I think it’s more for the fans, to be honest with you, it’s bragging rights for them. In the team, we want to look at the bigger picture more and get into the playoffs and be challenging for things higher up the table. But for the way this year has gone, there’s no reason why we can’t be very pleased with how we’ve done in the series [against Louisville].”

As it stands, Indy took care of the first step and a long line of dominos have to fall to make the playoffs. They did the first step, winning the season series against Louisville along the way. Whether the game against Tulsa next Saturday means anything beyond pride for the players, could be answered later tonight.

Additional Thoughts

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
I missed her name (those kinds of announcements are hard to hear when the Exitos radio commentators are working the pre-game in the press conference), but will add it when I get it from the team. However, I think her performance of the national anthem was my favorite one of the season. Thank you Sha' Howard for an excellent version.

After the game, I was milling about and kids had started wandering onto the field after one of the security guards realized there wasn't any harm in it and either walked away entirely or was turning a blind eye to it. As I stood there, a little boy and his mom walked up beside me. You could just tell that he wanted to join the other kids, but was afraid he was going to get in trouble, despite his mom saying that he could go onto the field. She even said, "is the field lava?" at which point I made sure I caught his eye and jumped back off the field saying, "the field is lava?" About a minute later, mom was still trying to convince him that it was okay, when I noticed an unused ball near me. I went over to it, caught his eye again, and passed him the ball. The second that ball hit his foot, his eyes got bright, he smiled, and took off with the ball straight to the goal. Where he played with the other kids until mom and dad made him leave. I told her that it reminded me of a quote by a player (I left out that it was the quote by Luke Boughen that created the name for my site), where he said, "When the ball is kicked towards me, I consider the game beckoning me. The game wants me." That's all that kid needed. He needed the game to beckon him and know that the game wanted him. Whatever else happened last night with the game itself, it's that moment that I hope sticks with me for a long time because it made me so happy to know that such a simple thing from me helped convince him and brought him (and his parents) joy.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
You know you're going to get a couple moments from him where his sweeper-keeper mentality is going to make you yell, "NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!," but Jordan Farr is also going to make some great saves along the way too. If we're honest, of the three keepers that have played this year, you trust Farr's feet much more than the other two. The save immediately after halftime where he managed to get a paw to the ball to push it wide of net despite starting to lean the wrong way was athletic and required strong hands. He also had some really good punches on Louisville corner kicks to help clear the danger and let the defense reset. So for his effort, Jordan gets the GBGB tonight.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion FC - 08.30


- Opponent: Birmingham Legion FC
- Location: BBVA Field
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 3-1 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Partida, Ayoze (C), Moon, Ledesma, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Vassell 67' (Ayoze); Wild 67' (Ledesma); Gutjahr 81' (Partida); Sissoko 81' (Koffie)
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Ouimette

- Scoring Summary:
BHM - Brett 8' (assist James) 
IND - Law 42' (assist Moon)
BHM - Crognale (Eli) 74' 
BHM - Rufe 90'+4'

- Bookings:
BHM - Kavita 45' (Yellow)
BHM - Vancaeyezeele 54' (Yellow)
BHM - Rufe 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

After seeing the Match Notes from Indy, I posted the following on Twitter: 

Well, Indy did their part in that equation. FC Tulsa, however, lost to El Paso and this is being written before Memphis plays. So, once again, Indy is still mathematically eligible for the playoffs. The end of this season is like watching a car crash in super slow motion. You know the end result, but you can't take your eyes off of it and each incremental step is more and more painful since you know you can do nothing about the result that you know is eventually coming.

Indy gave up an early goal in the 8th minute to Nico Brett, but managed to pick one back right before halftime thanks to a Moon cross that Law one-touched over Van Oekel. Moon was playing right back as part of Rogers' ten-man bunker in the first half. At times, it looked like a 5-4-1, with the 5 and 4 portion of that arrangement being separated by 10 yards and the 1 part of that arrangement 30 yards away. This was after they were already down a goal.

In what has become an all to regular refrain, if it can go badly for Indy, it will go badly for Indy. Down a goal, with time running out, Indy pulled Farr up to Birmingham's box on a corner kick. Bounce around, ends up with Rufe, who promptly kicks a 55-yard ball up the field and into Indy's goal. His first ever goal came from the opposite side of midfield.

That's just kind of the way this season has gone.

It feels like this was the final straw, but the math doesn't say that it is. As a viewer watching the slow motion car crash, I kind of want the wreck to happen so that we can assess the damage and begin to tend to the wounded. 

Indy return to Carroll Stadium on Saturday to play this year's final installment of LIPAFC against Louisville. The guys are still fighting to the end, but the math seems like it is catching up to them and the car wreck is going to happen. Having the car wreck happen against LOU might be a fitting and painful way to officially miss the playoffs.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Just to simplify things for me, tonight's GBGB goes to the goal scorer in Nicky Law. He had the goal and 2 of the 4 shots on target. One the other side of the ball, I thought Timmer had a good game as well.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Atlanta United 2 - 08.29



- Opponent: Atlanta United 2
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 7,999
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Edwards, Gutjahr, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Sissoko, Ayoze (C), Torres, Wild, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Partida 45' (Sissoko); Law 45' (Torres) ; Vassell 82' (Wild); Ouimette 90'+2' (Arteaga)
- Unused: Farr, Doyle, Liu

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 53' (assist Ayoze)
ATL - McFadden 90'+5' 

- Bookings:
IND - Ayoze 15' (Yellow)
IND - Wild 25' (Yellow)
IND - Koffie 50' (Yellow)
ATL2 - Benitez 67' (Yellow)
ATL2 - Mertz 85' (Yellow)
IND - Seagrist 90'+4' (Yellow)
IND - Farr 90'+6' (Yellow - post-game altercation)
ATL2 - Diop 90'+6' (Yellow - post-game altercation)

- Referee: Greg Dopka|
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

The thing about being an Indy Eleven fan this year is that you know the bad things are going to happen. It's just a matter of when. Lately, it has also started to take on a feel of "just make it stop" and "when can it all be over?" That second one might have been officially answered tonight. Despite the additions of Doyle, Adewole, Partida, and Ledesma in recent days/weeks, tonight's loss (and Memphis' dismantling of Tulsa), in all reality puts the playoffs out of the picture.  

The depth has been tested as Hackshaw, Haworth, Moon, Buckmaster, & Cochran were all unavailable for the game. An 18-year old Academy player is starting games (to be fair, he has looked good, but was muscled off the ball a few times tonight). Gutjahr and Seagrist are playing right and left backs, respectively. One of my concerns early in the season was how Law would hold up towards the end of the season having come directly from playing with Exeter City, who were still in the midst of their season. Five games in 15 days and the turf at Carroll kept him on the bench in the first half. Rogers stated after the game that "Nicky’s obviously played a lot of minutes for me and done really well, so we have to manage him." Looks like my early fears may be coming to fruition at a key time for the guys.  Partida, who looked to be the most lively in the game in OKC on Wednesday, isn't really at full match fitness and also sat the first half on the bench. Both of those players came into the game immediately after halftime for Torres and Sissoko, with Rogers indicating that “the game plan in a sense went away in the first half. We saw it and didn’t really love it, so we brought on those lads to help us in the second half."

Halftime Possession

I feel gutted for Edwards because of the 90'+5' minute goal by McFadden that Edwards just couldn't seem to get in his grasp, but this game feels like a microcosm of the season. The bounces continue to go against Indy, they can't seem to capitalize on the chances they do get, and Indy absolutely allowed ATL2 to have possession tonight. ATL2 held a 71.2% to 28.8% advantage in possession at halftime, which only decreased slightly by the end of the game. Bunkering in OKC, which apparently was the game plan in OKC according to Interim Coach Rogers on Soccer Saturday, was also the game plan tonight and didn't work well in the end. 

However, Indy toyed with disaster for most of the game tonight. If ATL2 had been more clinical in their shooting, this game may not have even been close. ATL2 had 20 shots, with only 4 of them officially on target, but a few of them squeaked by just wide of the posts. Indy had just 6 shots, with 3 shots on target; the goal by Arteaga, a second shot by Arteaga that went straight to the keeper, and one by Law from 25 yards out that also went straight to Rios Novo. On a night when the rain and weather could have created all kinds of weird issues for the keepers (see the end of the game), Indy didn't attack the goal enough. I'm going to come back to that in a minute.

Rios Novo Touchmap
Speaking of Rios Novo, Indy's pressure was so relaxed at times that Rios Novo played more like a keeper sweeper. Rios Novo had 63 passes, with a 93.3% passing accuracy and routinely played +40 yards from his endline. He had a touch inside the center circle! This was all made possible because Indy has routinely shown throughout the season that their counterattacks don't always have much pace to them.

The most egregious of these counterattacks (for me anyway) happened in the 79th minute. Law pressured a ball at midfield that led to a hard pass from Stanley toward Diop. Partida went hard to the ball and poked it away to Arteaga 15 yards away. Arteaga collected the ball, turned, and dished it out to the wing to Ayoze, but then slowed down for just a tick until a streaking Law goes past him and must have said, "VAMOS!" on his way past. Wild was on the right side making a run in one of the closest things to a fast break that I can remember in the game, giving Indy a 4 vs 2 break. What resulted was no cross from Ayoze to any of the guys, but instead pulled it from within ATL2's box back towards the center circle and a safe pass to Koffie. On the other side of the field, Wild raised his hand in disbelief that nothing came from that attack. Meanwhile, Koffie sends "a nervy pass" in the general vicinity of Adewole, but Diop intercepted in a break the other way that Timmer did well to help usher over the endline for a corner. Not only did Indy not get anything out of it offensively, it nearly led to a chance on the other end.

There was another similar moment in the 72nd minute. Ayoze slipped a gorgeous pass through the ATL2 backline to a streaking Seagrist. Instead of putting a ball into the mix in the center of the 6-yard box where Arteaga was waiting and Wild was waiting on the far post, Seagrist placed a rocket into the wrong side of the side netting. 

Shots After the 53rd Minute
Indy's offense doesn't allow for many mistakes by the defense. Indy didn't create enough chances, particularly after going up a goal. After Arteaga's goal, Indy mustered just three more shots. One was the aforementioned shot on target by Law, one more by Wild in the 59th minute, and one was the aforementioned shot by Seagrist, which was Indy's last shot in the game. In the 72nd minute. 

Much like it came back to bite them in OKC, and seemingly frequently throughout the season, you can only bunker for so long before a defensive mistake overrides the lack of chances you are creating on the other end. 

The guys put 50% of their shots on target, but I don't think the tactics have been helping them recently. I'm just a "so called pundit," but whether I call it the Rennie Bunker (TM) or the Rogers Bunker (TM), it feels like a recipe for what happened tonight. There are obviously times when a bunker makes sense, but Indy attempted to do it for 90 minutes tonight and they succeeded for 90'+5', but eventually that bunker tends to break. 

At the start of the game, both Rakestraw and Hauter envisioned this game as a high paced game with both teams trying to get as many opportunities on goal as possible, because both teams absolutely needed the 3 points to give themselves a chance for the playoffs. Indy did not do that.

I don't know what to say anymore. This has been a frustrating season and the late-season reinforcements have been a necessity, but also seem like it's too late to matter. According to Stremlaw, Ledesma is now in town and so will likely be available for selection next Sunday against Birmingham. While BHM have already solidified their place in the playoffs, they're not going to let off the gas as the ability to get a home game is still in play for them. Given how differently Indy played tonight than I expected, I haven't the foggiest idea how they will try to play Birmingham.

On a more positive note, Ayoze to Arteaga. At this point, Indy should just put that on repeat. Arteaga finds ways to get his head to balls and Ayoze can still put a ball on a dime. Indy rode Pasher's ability to get past defenses last year. Indy needs to win out to give themselves a chance at the playoffs and Ayoze to Arteaga would be a good way to try and get that accomplished. Though as I said after the OKC game, "Mathematically eligible isn't the same as realistically eligible."

My favorite quote from the game tonight, that didn't have anything to do with the game was from Brad, who said, "I have a fan that oscillates. That's how I know that word." In a game were my brain was constantly wondering when the game was going to go down the toilet, that line made me laugh out loud.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It's not easy being a late-season addition to a team. I imagine it's exponentially harder to be a late-season addition and be thrust immediately into the starting lineup. However, that is exactly what has happened for Adewole and I think he has played extremely well given the circumstances. It's always difficult for me to pick a player for the GBGB in a loss draw. With very little time with the team and absolutely minimal training time with the guys given the playing schedule, I think Adewole is deserving of some praise for his ability to lead the back line with Timmer. So Adewole gets the GBGB tonight.3

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Indy Eleven vs OKC Energy FC - 08.28



- Opponent: OKC Energy FC
- Location: Taft Stadium
- Attendance: 3,677
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Edwards, Timmer, Adewole, Ayoze (C), Partida, Koffie, Gutjahr, Seagrist, Torres, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Sissoko 63' (Partida); Doyle 74' (Ayoze); Ouimette 74' (Adewole): Liu 86' (Torres)
- Unused: Farr, Moon, Wild

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 12' (assist Ayoze)
OKC - Adekoya 87' (assist Basuljevic)

- Bookings:
OKC - Chavez 28' (Yellow)
OKC - Batista 65' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 67' (Yellow)
OKC - Cochran 82' (Yellow)
IND - Cochran 90'+3' (Yellow)
OKC - Bijev 90'+3' (Yellow)

- Referee: John Matto|
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

Here is the good news from tonight's 1-1 draw with OKC: 

  • Indy didn't lose. 
  • Indy scored a goal. 
  • Both of which they hadn't done in three games. 
  • Indy had as many shots on target in this game as they had in the previous three. 
  • Arteaga scored the run-of-play goal. 
  • Indy had an 80% shooting accuracy. 
  • Indy had an 81.3% tackles success rate (compared to the 25% in the game on Sunday). 
  • Partida played fairly well and was one of just a few who seemed to press hard on defense early in the game.
  • Indy is still mathematically eligible for the playoffs.

Here is the bad news from tonight's 1-1 draw with OKC:

  • With tonight's goal, Indy has scored 28 goals in 27 games, while conceding 39.
  • Arteaga had a penalty kick saved in the 81st minute.
  • OKC scored in the 87th minute.
  • Indy remains planted in 7th place in the table.
  • Indy lose another tiebreaker with a team in the 4th playoff spot hunt. Indy and OKC split the season 1W-2D-1L, but the next tiebreaker is goal differential in head-to-head matches, which goes to OKC 5-4.
  • You can only Rennie Rogers Bunker(TM) for so long. 
  • Indy used their final sub in the 86th minute. OKC score the game tying goal in the 87th minute and Wild and Moon are sitting on the bench next to Farr.
  • Mathematically eligible isn't the same as realistically eligible.
  • In my recap for the Tulsa game on September 8th, I estimated that Indy probably needed at least 5 wins and a draw to make the playoffs. Since that game, Indy has picked up 4 points out of a possible 15. With five games remaining, against ATL2, BRM, LOU, TUL, & MEM, I have even less hope they can get enough points to make the playoffs with only 15 points available. 

Random Thoughts:
  • Indy came into the game in 27th place in the USL's Power Rankings. What do you notice about the teams below them? That's right, they are all last place in each of their respective divisions, including Loudoun who is already eliminated from the playoffs (and embarrassed Indy 4-1 earlier this year). 
  • Admittedly, I don't watch every single game across the USL Championship, but Indy has to have the slowest counterattacks in the entire league. There is absolutely no urgency in the majority of them lately.
  • With guys like Ayoze, Law, and Wild who can provide great service, why does Indy get cute with their corner kicks and free kicks in the final third? Put it into the mix where you have Arteaga and Timmer (and Ouimette and Hackshaw when playing).
  • Farr has had some difficult bounces go against him this year, but Edwards' inability to play with both feet is a nerve wrecking affair for a team that tries to play out of the ball, seemingly at all cost. 
  • When does Indy run out of "must win" games? Soon, right? Then it's just playing for pride?

The Game Beckons Game Ball

As I said in the "good news" portion of my thoughts on the game, I thought Partida put in a good shift. Considering his limited time with the team, I thought he was effective in his role. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Indy Eleven vs OKC Energy FC - 08.27



- Opponent: OKC Energy FC
- Location: Taft Stadium
- Attendance: 1,960
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Edwards, Ouimette (C), Timmer, Doyle, Buckmaster, Koffie, Gutjahr, Seagrist, Wild, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Moon 18' (Buckmaster - injury); Liu 64' (Gutjahr); Ayoze (Wild) 75'; Sissoko (Koffie) 75'
- Unused: Farr, Partida, Torres

- Scoring Summary:
OKC - Chavez 30' (assist Bijev)
OKC - Daniels 74' (assist Bijev)

- Bookings:
IND - Seagrist 23' (Yellow)
IND - Gutjahr 45'+2' (Yellow)
IND - Koffie 70' (Yellow)
OKC - Kurimoto 90'+2' (Yellow)
IND - Sissoko 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Kevin Broadley
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

The phrase "must win" has seemed like a constant refrain for weeks now and Indy hasn't been very successful at doing that. As a result, they continue to find themselves on the wrong side of the playoff cut line for 10 out of the past 11 weeks. Atlanta and Memphis both hold the tiebreaker over Indy, further making their chances of making the playoffs more difficult. The result on Wednesday now determines who holds the Indy-OKC tiebreaker. Indy brought in four new players in the past two weeks to help that cause, but positive results in back-to-back games in OKC were a must to make the addition of the players meaningful and not just potential steps towards next season. A dwindling bench with Haworth, Cochran, and Hackshaw injured meant that Doyle has already seen minutes, and Partida made the trip to OKC. 

Another refrain that has been constant lately is that Indy isn't catching any breaks and the bad bounces just keep happening. Or that Indy continues to be undone with silly (or bad) mistakes.

So would you expect anything less than to see Buckmaster go down with what looks like a very serious ankle injury (they went straight to the locker room with him) around the 16th minute, further shortening an already depleted bench? Or how about OKC taking a ball from their endline as Ellis-Hayden dribbles about 1/3 of the way up the field, passes easily to Bijev, who dribbles another 1/3 of the way up the field, and then passes to Chavez who had beaten the offside trap, and easily puts it past Edwards? Full length of the field in two passes and Indy are down 1-nil in the 30th minute having already burned a substitute. 

As the first half continued, the fans who have been starting to worry about Farr's effectiveness watched as Edwards ran towards a long ball only to not touch it at all, and then whiff on another ball outside his box (and luckily watched it run across the endline). All of that was after Edwards came to his endline corner of the box and missed getting the ball completely, but was bailed out by the OKC player slipping and not being able to get a good shot/cross.

Forget it. Here's the basics of how this game was lost. 

Indy hasn't scored a goal in 3 games. 

Indy had a single shot on goal, by Law, in the 79th minute

OKC had 11 shots, 7 on target, for a whopping 63.6% shooting accuracy. 

Indy had a paltry 25% tackles success rate. 

Indy's final third had less green than my bank account when my daughter's gymnastics fees are due.

Right now, there is so much wrong with the way things are going that the addition of Ledesma, Partida, and Adewole look like extended tryouts for next season. The fans that still think there is a chance to make the playoffs are like the band on the Titanic, knowing the ship is going down, but trying to put on a brave face and doing your job of supporting. This team was rebuilt after missing the playoffs, and it is looking like an inevitability that this team is going to miss the playoffs this year as well. A new coach will be added and we'll see what players remain (I suspect at least a few are on two year contracts...Law and Arteaga if we're lucky).

Indy go again on Wednesday, maybe with Adewole in the bench, but I wouldn't expect him to play. As they mentioned on the broadcast, when you have back-to-back games like this, often times the second game feels more like an extension of the first game, picking up right where it left off. If that's the case, I don't see how Indy do anything but lose like they did tonight. Their lines were so spread out that OKC easily passed between them, there seemed to be a defeated mentality for a good chunk of the players, and they looked outmatched.

Indy play again on Wednesday at 8:30. Watch at your own risk.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Just so that I don't have to do the "Nope" thing that I did for the Loudoun game, I'm going to give the GBGB to Aidan Liu for making into the game. I never like to see guys make it through the entire season without getting minutes and he was the last one (not counting the Academy guys or the new guys). So good for him.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Indy Eleven to join the USL W League

It was a busy week for Indy Eleven as they added three players in three days, beyond the signing of Liam Doyle on the 13th. This week it was former 2018 USL MVP winner Emmanuel Ledesma on Wednesday, Kevin Partida on Thursday, and Tobi Adewole on Friday. Partida is already with the team, Adewole will be joining them in OKC, and Ledesma could be in town early next week. Indy has added some very significant players for the stretch run towards the playoffs. Whether the additions work, in the time remaining in the season, will be seen in the next couple weeks.

However, maybe more important than the four players that Indy has added this month was the other announcement that was made on Friday. Indy announced that in addition to the men's team and the Academy teams, they were going to field a team in the upcoming USL W League that is set to start in 2022. Indy will field a team in that inaugural season.

INDIANAPOLIS – The United Soccer League (USL) today announced Indy Eleven as the newest club to join the USL W League. Indy Eleven, a member of the USL Championship men’s professional league, will introduce its women’s senior team in the USL W League in 2022.

Indy Eleven is looking forward to other exciting news, which will also include future announcements around details surrounding its W League entry’s name, logo, and branding; home venue and training locations; staffing model and more at later dates accordingly.

“Indy Eleven has long desired to take a tangible step towards representation in the women’s game, and we are proud to partner with the United Soccer League and the W League to make that a reality,” said Indy Eleven President & CEO Greg Stremlaw. “Indy Eleven is eager to do our part in growing women’s soccer here in Indiana and, just as is the case with our USL Championship team, fulfilling our aim to be the premier club in the USL W League both on and off the field starting in 2022.”

This is something that many, maybe most, fans have wanted to see for a long time. I could probably create a long list of fans who have wanted to add a women's team to the Indy Eleven brand. Admittedly, most of those fans had envisioned that team to be a professional team in the NWSL. However, the USL has taken a serious step at creating more opportunities for women soccer players to continue playing beyond their high school or college years and for those who are not able to play at the highest levels of the leagues around the world. The USL has the aspirations to create a "women’s pathway [that] now includes the Girls Super Y League, the Girls USL Academy, the women’s pre-professional USL W League which kicks off next year, and the women’s professional USL Super League. The USL Super League will apply for Division II sanctioning from U.S. Soccer in the coming months." So this will cover all of the levels below the NWSL, and doesn't, at least at this point, directly compete with that league. 

Until today, the thought has always been that the Indy Eleven wouldn't add a women's team until they had their own stadium. Physically had the stadium and not just the legislative backing they currently have for the stadium. So this announcement came as a complete surprise to me. Everything I have ever seen from the team's financial packets provided to the legislature, a women's team was always included as being necessary to make the stadium work financially. I just didn't expect the chicken before the egg.

Again, those assumptions implied the attendance numbers of a typical NWSL, U.S. Soccer sanctioned Division I level team. The USL Super League is going for Division II status. The USL W League is further down the pyramid than that, consisting of "pre-professional" players. This seems to put the new Indy Eleven team somewhere along the lines of the teams that make up the WPSL. Indianapolis already has two teams that compete in the WPSL; Lady Victory FC and FC Pride. There is also a third team that seems to be, roughly, in the same level of play, which is the Indy Saints that compete in the Ohio Valley Premier League. All of these teams play at high schools with relatively small crowds. These are not the size crowds that Indy assumes in their stadium financials. Though, maybe having a team under the Indy Eleven umbrella will bring in a few more fans than what those other teams see.
Anybody else envision a Saturday doubleheader of the USL-W team, followed by the men's team? There is also the possibility that the Indy Eleven USL-W team, eventually, or maybe immediately in 2023, makes the move to the USL Super League when it starts. 

Sidenote: Laura Mills designed the Indy Saints logo and who has created some of my favorite Indy Eleven posters, including one that inspired a tattoo by Josh Lauritsen.

One of the things that stuck out for me in the announcement from the team and the league was the language that stated there "will also include future announcements around details surrounding its W League entry’s name, logo, and branding; home venue and training locations." All of this implies to me that there's a good chance that Indy Eleven's W team doesn't go by Indy Eleven. Given my above assumptions on attendance numbers, until the team has their own stadium, I would be surprised if the W team plays its games at Carroll Stadium. I would imagine that they play at a high school or at Grand Park on one of the grass fields. As far as the branding goes, as I stated on Twitter on Friday:

"Why would the team use any other logo except for the one that the men's team uses? Men's, Women's, Academy all under the same crest. All IXI family under same watchful eye of Victory." 

Andrew Schmidt replied

"Trying to not be completely cynical but I can see club brass thinking new brand = new merch = more revenue"

My response was that,

"I don't think this is cynical. To me, this is the only reason to have 2 "brands." I'm just of the opinion, that if it's part of "Indy Eleven Sports and Entertainment," then it should look the same."

Which is only partially true. I do think that they should be the same, for the very reason that I stated in the first tweet. The club I support in Europe follows that model.

However, this is the United States, and I can also see my daughters not wanting "their club" to look like "my club." I hate to say this, but Louisville's NWSL team could have easily followed the branding of the men's team and rode the coattails of a very successful men's team. However, they created a new brand under the umbrella of the Louisville brand and it's a good Racing Louisville brand. We won't get into the fact that Racing Indy was what the Indy fans were using as the placeholder name long before Indy Eleven became Indy Eleven. <sarcasm font>I'm sure it's just a coincidence, right?</sarcasm font>

I have also done the thought exercise on what a women's team might look if they didn't go with Indy Eleven branding. You've seen my articles on the stadium. You didn't think that was all I was thinking about, did you? 

Then earlier this year, Peter Wilt indicated in a response to a comment from Peter Evans that Molly Kruger, Tom Dunmore, and he (Peter Wilt) had also been flushing out those details. 

Beyond the fact that this had to be early in the history of the club since Tom left to go to IMS in early 2017, Peter indicated in the tweet, that the brand "wasn't IXI." When I asked Peter for some clarification about this he indicated, "It was consistent, but not the same. We liked the idea of [a] women's team having their own identity that had a thread connecting the two."

Peter, willing to share a lot of things with me, declined to share any of those details. Yet. So the rest of this is speculation and the results of my thought exercise on a women's team.

A thread that connects the two...
  • Checkers
  • Victory
  • Red and Blue
  • Star from the Indianapolis flag

Lady Victory. 

Indy Victory.

Peter Evans has said it. I've thought it dozens of times. Indy Victory with Lady Victory as the center just works. Even Lady Victory works pretty well. Though I can hear the folks that hate when female teams are called "the Lady Giants" or "the Lady Tigers." My point in this case would be that there are no "Victory" that the "Lady" is preceding. Lady Victory would be unique to the women's team. For the sake of the rest of this article, I'm calling the team Indy Victory, whether it is the name that is ultimately selected or not. "Indy Victory" can be the new "Racing Indy."

I don't know what kind of details Molly, Tom, and Peter decided, but I know that Patrick Cummings, the creator of Indy Eleven's crest and a large chunk of their early brand appearance, created multiple iterations of logos before the one that we all know was finally selected. What if it was some iteration of one of those? There were a lot of options from Patrick, so what if it was one of the versions that made everybody's Top 5, but wasn't ultimately selected (to be clear, I don't know that the one to the left was one of those, but it drew my eye in the above linked iterations). It's unique, doesn't follow the normal crest appearance, and seems to highlight Victory, a female, even more than the selected Indy Eleven crest does. 

Replace "Indianapolis XI" with "Indy Victory", adjust the colors so that the checkerboard pattern is different, and Patrick's Indy Eleven crest moves closer to an Indy Victory crest. For full disclosure, Patrick Cummings had nothing to do with the abomination edit of his original sketch other than to provide me with the original file above (I was having difficulty adjusting Victory's colors easily and didn't want, yet, to spend the time to do it properly). There's a lot that I don't like about my quick color adjustment, but it was adjusted mainly to prove a point. 

It isn't that difficult to take an Indy Eleven brand and adjust it to an Indy Victory brand with some "threads connecting the two."

I don't know that Indy Victory is the club's direction. I don't know that they will stick with the red, white, and blue. I don't know how an Indy Victory team affects, works with, or puts out of business the other pre-professional teams in Indy like Lady Victory FC, FC Pride, and Indy Saints. I don't know anything other than Indy has another pre-professional women's team to support, this one is under the Indy Eleven Sports and Entertainment umbrella.

For now, that's a good start.

I'm glad that Indy Eleven has finally made the step into the women's game. Giving more women the opportunity to continue playing is something I'm glad to see. I do wonder why it took this long? Indy could have easily added a team at this level in the WPSL or the OVPL, like the other Indy teams. 

I hope this signifies that whatever financial hit the team took with the COVID-19 pandemic, they feel secure enough to add yet another layer to the club. Lastly, this should further signify that a stadium IS coming, since having a dedicated stadium makes having a pre-professional women's team easier.

I look forward to seeing the details of the Indy Eleven USL-W team brand, and then learning how similar they are to Molly, Tom, and Peter's efforts.