Sunday, June 6, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 08.06


- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 4,999
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Cochran, Malic, Timmer, Koffie, Sissoko, Ayoze (C), Vassell, Smith, Hamilton, Arteaga

- Substitutions: Wild 45' (Smith); Moon 45' (Malic); Law 45' (Sissoko); Seagrist 59' (Ayoze); Ouimette 75' (Vassell)

- Unused: Edwards, Gutjahr

- Scoring Summary:
MEM - Salazar 3' (assist Kissiedou)
MEM - Murphy 35'
IND - Ouimette 90'+6' (assist Koffie)

- Bookings:
IND - Smith 30' (Yellow)
IND - Cochran 43' (Yellow)
MEM - Atuahene 44' (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

If you're here to hear me rag on the refs you might as well move along. Were they bad? Yes. Was Indy Eleven bad? Yes. In the course of a week, we went from a win against Louisville that I thought felt like a loss, to a draw against OKC that most people thought felt like a loss, to an actual loss against Memphis. Think the bad news is over? Indy heads to El Paso to play former Indy players Dylan Mares and Macca King on the postage stamp field there. El Paso went to penalty kicks with Phoenix in the Western Conference finals last year and was a late Dylan Mares miss away in that game from being in the Championship final. They didn't get worse during the preseason. If you want my pregame prediction, Indy loses.

Somehow NOT a goal. Hmm.
Moving on. 

I've read the tweets and the reddit posts and heard the post-game press conference. Arteaga's non-goal in the 16th was clearly a goal and I could see if from the press box. A guy on the touch line should do better than that. Does a goal there change the complexion of the game? Yes. You know what else changes the complexion of a game? Giving up a goal in the 3rd minute from a 30 yard pass to a forward that should have been marked better by Malic. From that moment, Indy had to chase the game in 80+ degree temperatures (probably 90+ on the field) and we found out that this was not the lineup to get it accomplished.

Vassell Distribution Map
I understand that the number of games right now necessitates some squad rotation, but this was the third different lineup in three games. The three back lineup of Timmer, Malic, and Cochran proves just how valuable Ouimette and Hackshaw are to the Rennie system. They know it, understand it, and play it in a way that tonight's lineup was unable to do. Add to that frustration that Vassell was consistently overmatched on the right side. As a result, he was given acres of space to operate and the back line and the holding midfielders just kept lobbing balls to him over the top that he was unable to do anything with all night long. Rennie made three different substitutions at half and somehow, Vassell was not one of them. From my perspective, he would have never survived until the 75th minute when he was subbed out for the Eleven's eventual goal scorer in Ouimette.

Photo credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
Speaking of the defensive midfielders, the combination of Koffie and Sissoko could have taken some lessons from Mitch Guitar, who looked to me like the very definition of what you want from a holding midfielder. Someone to be there to clean up some mistakes and get the ball distributed to the rest of the midfield/forwards. Koffie and Sissoko seemed to struggle with all of that all night. I'm running the risk of this becoming a Nicky Law fan site, but the midfield functioned much better with his insertion into the lineup at halftime. The guy is on a different level than the rest of the midfielders. 

The first half went so poorly that I regularly saw Smith dropping deep into the defense to try and get the ball forward. With him dropping so deep, that left Koffie and Sissoko (and Vassell) to get the ball moved further up the field. None of them seemed up to the task. When the halftime whistle blew, Indy was down 2-nil and Rennie was forced to shore the midfield and provide more attacking players. He went to the bench immediately after halftime, replacing Smith, Malic, and Sissoko with Wild, Moon, and Law, respectively. With Malic out, Ayoze was dropped back into the back line. I would put Ayoze anywhere on the field and feel comfortable that he would be able to perform well there, but he's been out for a bit and he seemed to hit a wall, which forced Rennie to sub out the captain for Seagrist. 

Photo credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
The addition of Wild, Moon, and Law definitely served its purpose of stabilizing the midfield, but Memphis' 4-4-2 was compact, eliminating much of the passing lanes for Indy. It was the kind of tactic that had me wishing for Pasher over the top. Someone who could run onto a ball over the top to break the compact formation that Memphis was playing. Neither Arteaga or Hamilton are that type of player and they were having their own communication issues with each other, not to mention their inability to stay onside. Indy only had three offside calls, but they seemed to come at bad times. Wild has no fear about taking on players, so that added another component that the first half didn't possess, but he also has the frustrating thing of periodically holding onto the ball for too long. Thought it was nice to see the effort.

Indy looked disconnected and discombobulated from the start and while the substitutes helped, it just wasn't enough to overcome the hole they dug for themselves in the first half. In the post-game conference, Rennie felt that if there had been a couple more minutes of stoppage time in the second half, a second Indy goal was coming. It would be nice to think that since 8 of their 14 shots took place after the 80 minute mark, but standing close to the field, it still seemed like guys were unable to take a good shot or the compact nature of Memphis just literally plugged all of the shooting lanes. 

Make no mistake. Indy had a goal robbed from them, but Memphis had a plan for Indy and executed it perfectly. Again, the refs were bad, but as Josh Mason said in the post-game, "you have to control your controllables." Bad refs are out of your control, but Indy didn't play well enough for the duration of the game to come away with the win. It's that simple for me. They didn't control the things that they could control.

I don't know what lineup Rennie is going to choose to bring out in El Paso, but let's hope it isn't the one we saw tonight. At least not at this point in the season, with another quick turnaround.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Law has clearly become the link-pin for me that becomes obvious when he isn't in the lineup and Indy better figure out a way to function without him because he came into this season having played a majority of the 20/21 season in England at Exeter City. His legs could tire by the end of the year. However, because he came on in a substitutes role and provided the goal to prevent Memphis' clean sheet, Ouimette gets the GBGB for making his presence immediately felt. 

1 comment:

Don said...

I think you are being too kind.