Saturday, June 12, 2021

Indy Eleven vs El Paso Locomotive FC - 08.07


- Opponent: El Paso Locomotive FC
- Location: Southwest University Park
- Attendance: 5,189
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Ouimette (C), Cochran, Timmer, Koffie, Law, Seagrist, Moon, Wild, Smith, Hamilton

- Substitutions: Gutjahr 45' (Koffie); Arteaga 61' (Moon); Ayoze 62' (Ouimette); Law 78' (Vassell); Sissoko 85' (Wild)
- Unused: Edwards, Malic

- Scoring Summary:
ELP - Ross 2' (assist Solignac)
ELP - Lung 49' (assist King)

- Bookings:
IND - Koffie 6' (Yellow)
IND - Smith 40' (Yellow)
IND - Ouimette 44' (Yellow)
ELP - Rebellon 57' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jon Freemon
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

The number of games the Eleven have played in the past week and a half is the busiest stretch of the games they are going to face all season. Since the Louisville game, Indy played OKC, Memphis, and El Paso and finished with a 1W-1D-2L record, and a -4 goal differential, looking increasingly worse as the run of games progressed. It's difficult to look at Indy's passing accuracy stat of 87% against El Paso and reconcile it with the fact that they were not the better team on the field. I indicated after the Memphis game that I didn't think Indy could win in El Paso and that, unfortunately, came to fruition in a frustrating 2-nil loss. A loss that started much the same way that the Memphis game started.

Before you could get fully comfortable in your couch with your beverage of choice and some snacks. Indy found themselves down a goal in the second minute from a Macca King cross to a wide open Nick Ross, who calmly placed the ball out of Farr's reach whose body weight had him leaning the wrong way. Getting yourself down that early against a team like El Paso is a formidable task during the best of situations. When it's 100-degrees at game time and you have had plane issues that forced you to get into El Paso at 2:00 AM (Indy time), the prospect of getting a positive result goes down drastically. 

"It seems like after these stretch of games that we didn’t have that extra energy we needed to get the goal." - Coach Rennie

Not going down a goal within the first 5 minutes of games would drastically help not having to chase games and Indy have done that in back-to-back games. El Paso's 49th minute goal (proving Indy came out of the halftime locker room as slow the first half), can be chalked up to an individual effort from Luna and getting a 30-yard blast through traffic with Farr having his vision blocked. However, and I hate to single guys out like this, but the first goal was because of poor communication (and effort) from Moon and Ouimette.

As the play begins, the three CBs have a single ELP player covered, with Nicky Law covering the ball and forcing the player away from goal and the middle of the field. El Paso's Nick Ross is making the run on the left side of the field and Moon is behind him, watching the ball. Former Indy Eleven player Dylan Mares is near the ball, but is making a run towards goal as the ball gets recycled out to the right side to former Indy player Macca King.

As King gets on the ball and makes one of his 5 crosses for the game, Dylan has now joined his teammate and are occupying Indy's CBs. Moon is still lagging behind the play and still watching the ball.

The headed ball gets dummied (or missed) and heads to Ross, who has yards of space around him to control the ball, compose himself, and put the ball back across goal as Farr tried to recover. Moon never closed out on Ross or let Ouimette know if Ross's presence so Ouimette was unavailable to get to Ross, even though Timmer and Cochran could have been covering the other ELP attacking players.

I'm not a soccer savant, but it's not difficult to see where the play broke down when watching the replay. This kind of breakdown on defense can't happen that early in the game and indicates to me that the players didn't come out ready to go. It's also disheartening as an Indy fan that the breakdown occurred between two of the returning players, so it can't be rationalized as the new guys still needing time to gell.

Though the way that the starting lineups have changed in the past week and a half, it's no wonder that guys aren't sure where to be at any given time. Lineups and pairings have been tested during this run and not all of them have been good. Additionally, in the early parts of this game, Indy was playing a back four, with Seagrist dropping deep with Ouimette, Cochran, and Timmer to play the ball out of the back. Based upon the Average Position graphic on the USL match center, the tactics evened themselves out to what we have been seeing of the 3-5-2, but Coach Rennie was clearly concerned with the ability of El Paso to get forward. So the Rennie Bunker (TM) was enacted to start the game and it failed regardless. 

As the guys and Rennie have said since Wednesday, this run is on them and they need to do better. They're professionals and shouldn't use excuses for the results. That being said, Coach Rennie indicated that he does factor into how he looks at a stretch of games not just by the results, but by the circumstances. There is something to be said for that, but this run could see them drop far down the table depending on this weekend's results.

I want to remain optimistic, but the team does not look like a team yet and we're 7 games into the season. The tactics and lineups have been cycled through at a staggering rate, communication is still not there between defenders nor between attacking players, and the best player on the field so far (in my opinion) came to Indy mid-season from his team in England and is 33 years old, so I question his legs towards the end of the season. The team has also not looked like a cohesive unit without Hackshaw on the left side and this might not be the last time the team is without his services this year as he plays for Trinidad & Tobago. This difficult run of play may not be the last one we see from this team, particularly if history is any indication with a Rennie coached Indy squad.

Indy return to the Mike on Tuesday night to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who have also not had a great run of form to start the season. Will a longer run of rest days help Indy recover from this stretch to get them back in the win column? Or will Indy again start slow and get down early, allowing teams to clog the middle and dare them to play over the top as they have been forced to do recently without any success? We all know that this stretch of games have forced the team into player management mode, but now that these games are in the rearview mirrow, I think we're about to see exactly what players Rennie thinks are his "starters" and who are "depth."

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Photo Credit - EM Dash (from Louisville game)
While his goals against average isn't spectacular and he hasn't been able to keep a clean sheet since the Sporting Kansas City II game, I don't think too many people would argue that many of the goals haven't been Farr's fault. As Rennie put it in the post game, "The score line shouldn’t detract how good his performance was." In this run of 4 games, Jordan has been forced into 16 saves and so I think it's time he get some GBGB credit.


Jim Skelly said...

Not sure how you can blame Moon at all for the first goal. Looked to me that Indy was playing a 4 back all game. Moon is clearly goal side of his defensive responsibility. Ouimette is sucked way too far central, he is the RB. If Moon falls all the way down to Ross then the player at the top of the area could just as easily been as dangerous with no Indy player within 15 yards.

Could Moon have shouted at Ouimette? I guess so, but there is no telling if that happened or not.

Drew said...

Respectfully disagree that Moon did not play a part in the defensive breakdown.

Ross, the left midfielder is more Moon's responsibility than Borelli who is way up the field as the left back. To me, it seems obvious that Moon did not provide any indication to Ouimette that Ross was making the run because Ouimette only slightly turns his head during the play so that he can keep track of Solignac. There's never an indication from his actions that Moon was making him aware of a player behind him. He is completely unaware that Ross had made the run. Yes, Ouimette is really far central, but that was because he had been tracking Solignac from the start of the play and Solignac pulled him centrally. If Moon had tracked Ross, the shot is more difficult or doesn't occur and if Ross recycled the ball back out, Borelli had started backpedaling and was 30 to 35 yards from goal. That's much easier to defend than a guy who is taking a shot from 8 yards out.

One could argue that if Wild had tracked King (the right back) better when King made the run forward, the cross doesn't happen and we're not having this conversation.

When you're as defensively minded as Indy Eleven want to be, (run of play) goals are scored because of defensive breakdowns. I think a few people ultimately caused this goal, including Moon.

Jim said...

I agree, that an extra effort by Moon may have saved the day, but Indy was clearly playing a back four and Moon was playing high up the field all game - not his usual wingback position. Indy wasn't playing 3-5-3, it was more of a 4-2-3-1, with Moon as one of the "3". So, I don't agree that Ross is more his responsibility than Borelli. Ouimette is not a CB here, he is the RB. He needs to be able to hand off a centrally running player and maintain his defensive zone. I would also place a lot of blame on the tactical roulette that Rennie seems to be doing game to game.

Jim said...

wasn't playing 3-5-2*

Drew said...

Tactical numbers are just numbers, but Indy plays a 3-5-2 when in offense, and regularly plays a 4th in the back when transitioning to defense. However, defensive and field awareness dictates that Moon needed to do better. When the play starts (, Ouimette is clearly covering Solignac and Ross is 20 yards behind the play, next to Moon. Ross begins his run, Moon doesn't follow. As the play progresses, you can see Timmer pointing to Mares so that Cochran can cover and Timmer can stay to the left side of the field. Ross continues, Moon doesn't follow and as I've said before, it does not appear that he provides any indication to Ouimette that Ross was there.

I firmly believe this goal was a result of poor effort and communication.