Sunday, July 25, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion FC - 08.15


- Opponent: Birmingham Legion FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 5,999
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Dick, Buckmaster, Ouimette, Cochran, Seagrist, Timmer, Gutjahr, Ayoze (C), Law, Moon, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Hamilton (Gutjahr 63'), Wild (Buckmaster 63'), Vassel (Ayoze 86')
- Unused: Edwards, Koffie, Malic, Sissoko

- Scoring Summary:
BHM - Kasim 54' (assist Dean)
IND - Own Goal 77' (Kavita) 
BHM - Dean 90'+1'

- Bookings:
BHM - Servania 45'+1' (Yellow)
BHM - A. Crognale 64' (Yellow)

- Referee: Kevin Fikar
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

Birmingham came into this game on 14 days rest and the 2nd spot in the Central Division standings. Indy came into this game on a downward trajectory. Despite playing at Carroll Stadium, this game had the feel of not IF Indy would lose, but by how much. While the shots became a bit more even by the end of the game with Indy having 3 shots on goal and Birmingham having 5 shots on goal, Indy had a single shot on goal in the 1st half and it came in the 45th minute. The halftime stats also indicated that Indy had zero chances created, while Birmingham had 7.

If you're looking for positivity, this is the wrong place to find it. My notes on the game are littered with things that the players are either blatantly doing wrong or things that I just personally feel could be the problem. I've decided to not call out all of those notes because it doesn't take much to see those mistakes happening when you watch the game.

I have been clamoring to see a Hamilton-Arteaga front line and interim coach Rogers granted my wish for the final 27 minutes of the game. From the match stats, it looks like there were 9 official chances created by Indy Eleven players; Ayoze (5), Law (2), Moon (1), and Wild (1). The two forwards didn't account for any of the chances created, but did account for Indy's three shots on goal. Though Arteaga's single shot on goal came in the aforementioned shot in the 45th minute. 

It could be argued that when you are only giving yourself three shots on goal, you better make them count, and Indy Eleven aren't doing that. It could also be argued that if you aren't connecting on your few chances on goal, you have to be stout defensively for the full 90 minutes and that is definitely not happening. 

I had two thoughts last night as I watched the game. The first is more general, the second is more tactical related.

  1. This feels like the 2017 season. On paper, Indy should be performing much better than they are right now. In 2017, it was a rash of injuries that made consistency difficult. This year, it's been a constant change of the lineup, a mutually departed coach, and an adjusted tactical formation under Rogers. Given that this season is just short of the halfway point, it feels like things aren't going to gel and what you see now is what you are going to get under a new coach (if that happens during the season). Something is off and it's difficult to see it getting any better.
  2. Every time I felt like the team was having a good push forward, the ball made its way back out to the wings where it was either crossed (31 times) where there aren't a ton of guys on the field who are going to legitimately win a header against Alex Crognale (other than Ouimette, Cochran, or Timmer on recycled corner kicks) or sent backwards after BHM recovered. There seemed to never be a consistent attempt to break down the BHM defense through the middle of the field and so the BHM defense knew that they didn't have to worry about it. I decided to go back through the highlights to find out how Indy have scored their goals because it felt like they were coming from either set pieces, through the middle of the pitch, or through one-touched passes.
    - Birmingham - Quick restart near half to touchline, towards goal, one-touched by Law to the middle of the box, one-touched shot by Smith, rebound goal from Arteaga
    - SKCII - 1st goal by Hamilton from corner kick; 2nd goal by Arteaga after Wild attacking center of pitch
    - Louisville - 2 penalty kicks from Hamilton
    - OKC - Moon goal from corner kick
    - Memphis - Late goal by Ouimette on flurry on corner kick recycle
    - SKCII - 1st goal - Wild through the middle, out to Ayoze who one-touched it to Law making the run through the box; 2nd goal - Moon through the middle, to Arteaga, one-touched to Wild.
    - Louisville - 1st goal cycled around with mostly one-touch passes (Hackshaw to Smith header); 2nd goal was recycled corner (Moon to Hackshaw); 3rd was Ouimette to Arteaga in the middle of the pitch to Smith to Arteaga through one-touch passes)
    - Atlanta - Error in center of pitch, Moon picks up and runs basically straight at goal and then centers to Hamilton
    - Memphis - Moon straight through the center of the pitch

There has only been one goal that could even be close to be considered a goal from a cross, and even it (the Law goal vs SKCII) was more of a one-touch pass from Ayoze who was still within the box. Indy doesn't have the players nor the history of showing it to be effective for teams to worry that it is going to work. I didn't rewatch the game to confirm, but I don't remember any significant attacks in this game that forced the BHM defense in the middle to deal with an attack straight up the middle of the pitch.

Either way, Indy aren't converting on their limited chances and aren't closing out players on defense at key moments in the game. That's how you lose games and how you continue to slide down the standings. Based on the results of this season to date, it's hard to imagine Indy making the playoffs unless something drastic happens. Maybe that's a new coach (no word from the team on that progress) or maybe that is just the guys winning a couple of games in a row and gaining some faith that they are capable of getting more consistent results. 

As it stands today, it feels like 2017 and another scorched Earth rebuild is in the off-season after the new coach gets hired and has a say in the roster rebuild. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

If I'm picking out a player that stood out for me in a positive way, I guess it would be Moon. He's the one that most consistently feels like he's working hard on both offense and defense and isn't afraid to attack the defense.

Photos (Courtesy of Don Thompson Photography)

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