Sunday, July 4, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion FC - 08.11



- Opponent: Birmingham Legion FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,999
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Edwards, Ouimette, Cochran, Buckmaster, Timmer, Ayoze (C), Law, Moon, Wild, Smith, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Koffie 45' (Ouimette); Seagrist 74' (Moon); Hamilton 77' (Smith)
- Unused: Dick, Gutjahr, Malic, Vassell

- Scoring Summary:
BRM - Brett 8' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
IND - Ouimette 7' (Yellow)
BRM - Lapa 29' (Yellow)
BRM - Servania 69' (Yellow)
IND - Ayoze 76' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jervis Atagana
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

USL Stats - Ayoze & Law Distribution
I suppose we should start with the good news. Indy Eleven have Ayoze and Nicky Law on their roster. We have known for a long time that Ayoze may be ageless, that he has one of the best touches in the league, and regularly makes opposing players look silly as he weaves out of trouble with the ball attached to his foot. The addition of Nicky Law to the roster, and his recent push further up the field under interim manager Max Rogers, has created a dynamic force on the left/center of the field. Ayoze and Law accounted for 135 of the team's 559 passes, or 24% of the passes, completing 84.8% and 91.3% of their passes, respectively, often in very tight conditions. I found myself not focused on the larger parts of the game because I got lost in watching the movement of these two players. If we can't enjoy wins at Carroll Stadium, make sure you are appreciating the level of soccer these two guys display for us. 

Photo Credit: Don Thompson
(not the PK goal, but look at that commitment)
Now for the bad news. Indy lost, once again, at home, giving Indy a 1W-1D-4L record at home this year, losing the last three home games. It's starting to feel like the next win is going to end up being a cathartic storming of the field moment like in 2014. The team just doesn't look as confident at home. Despite holding a 2 to 1 advantage in possession, Indy had half as many shots on target as Birmingham (6 to 3) and, once again, gave up an early goal. Indy have been scored on 14 times so far this year (including both home and away games). Nine of those goals have come in the first half, but 5 of those have come in the first 15 minutes, and 4 of those have come in less than 8 minutes of game time. This team continues to put themselves in early deficits and this was no different as Birmingham was awarded an early penalty kick that Nico Brett (another #11 player...5 of the 14 goals against Indy have come from players wearing the #11) calmly placed into the left side of the goal as Bobby Edwards guessed the wrong way and went to the right. 

Eight minutes in and the chasing of the game began. It's a bad trend. In those games where they have given up early goals, the team has finished with a 0W-1D-3L record, with the draw being the 3-3 fireworks against Louisville. Other than the LOU anomaly, the only other goal scored in the three losses was the stoppage time goal from Ouimette against Memphis. It's almost like the "here we go again" reaction from the fans is being said by the team as well. Combine that with the added pressure of continuing to feel like they are underperforming for the home fans and it seems to cause a ripple effect where they look disconnected and out of sync. How many unforced errors, turnovers, and misplayed balls did we see for a team in their 11th game together?

Maybe Rennie was right and it is the field. Yes, both teams have to play on it, but maybe it just seems to affect Indy more. I don't know, but the scoring prowess we saw from Indy against SKCII and LOU was not on display last night. Or maybe it's a mindset in the tactics. Watching the game last night, I felt like BHM's first touch pushed them in an offensive direction, whereas Indy's first touch is regularly in a defensive direction. Also, Indy seem to routinely send in crosses where the guys in the box are never going to get to the ball over their taller defensive counterparts. We've already established that I love Ayoze and Law, but they're much better at sending in crosses to Arteaga, Moon, and Hamilton than trying to be on the receiving end of those crosses. That being said, one of the better sequences of the night was when Arteaga took his defender to the endline, picked up his head for a split second to look to see who was in the box, fired a ball across the goal face that Law narrowly missed, and then Ayoze laid out to try and put it back across the goal. It ultimately lead to that disheartening crescendo and wane of the fan's cheers, but the hustle from all three guys was enjoyable to watch.

My last thought for the game (season) is to ask why Hamilton is stuck on the bench until the late portions of the game? Part of me really wants to see he and Arteaga up top again together. They have shown sigs of not being on the same page with each other in the early parts of the season, but hopefully they are getting that worked out. I want to see Hamilton as the target forward with Arteaga's energy playing off of that. I understand Wild's energy and his desire to attack the defense, but it seems like there is something missing. There have only been two games where they started the game together and therefore had extended minutes with each other (SKCII and Memphis). While I described above how the Memphis game went, in the SKCII game, both guys scored. Coincidence? Probably, but it's still a partnership that I think the team needs to explore to find more goals.

Indy heads to Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday and OKC next Saturday. Two teams lurking just below Indy in the table, waiting for their chance at an early goal to put Indy on the back foot and a chance to take over Indy's spot above the playoff eligible line.     

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I should stop apologizing for this, but Law and Ayoze are on a different level this year. In a game where it's difficult to pinpoint another player as having a truly standout performance, I have to give the GBGB to these two guys. 

Jokingly, I want to give it to Hackshaw, because it is depressingly clear how much he is missed when he is away with Trinidad & Tobago.


If you watched the New Mexico United versus El Paso Locomotive game last night, you saw three goals. Former Indy Eleven players Brian Brown scored the first goal for NM in the first half and then Dylan Mares scored the game tying and game winning goals in a span of less than 2 minutes in the second half. Oh, and some guy name Tyler Pasher scored for Houston as well, with a gorgeous one-touch shot. It's fun to watch the guys have success. 

Additional Photos

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