Sunday, August 29, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Real Monarchs SLC - 08.21


- Opponent: Real Monarch SLC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 5,999
- Final Score: 2-0 W

- Starting XI: Farr, Timmer, Cochran, Hackshaw (C), Koffie, Gutjahr, Seagrist, Moon, Law, Wild, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Buckmaster 70' (Moon); Ayoze 70' (Seagrist); Sissoko 75' (Gutjahr); Vassell 75' (Law); Haworth 86' (Wild)
- Unused: Edwards, Ouimette

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 26' (assist Moon)
IND - Arteaga 45'+4'

- Bookings:
SLC - Flores 44' (Yellow)
IND - Gutjahr 45' (Yellow)
SLC - Adams 79' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 79' (Yellow)
IND - Ayoze 84' (Yellow)
SLC - Iloski 90'+5' (Yellow)

- Referee: DeShun Beard
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

I may have finally become a jaded sports "reporter." Indy Eleven win, at home, with a clean sheet, and I'm disappointed with the result. After Indy's 4-1 embarrassment at Loudoun and 6-2 fiasco at Atlanta, a nice solid win at home should make me happy. I was happy. For a half.

This was Indy's third game in their stretch of playing the teams at the bottom of their respective divisions and came into the game with a 0W - 1D - IL record after the aforementioned 4-1 loss to Loudoun and a 1-1 draw to SKCII when Indy couldn't score late in the game to get the full three points. So a win, at home, against a very young Monarchs team was an absolute necessity if Indy want to make the playoffs. 

Indy started well, with good possession in the Monarch's half of the field. Indy must have seen something in the video on the Monarchs, because despite having Moon and Wild together on the right side, who have been Indy's most dynamic players offensively, Indy looked to be making a conscientious effort to attack the left side of the field. Regularly in the early stages of the game, Moon or Wild would remain wide and unmarked, while the ball was pushed back to the left side of the field by the back three of Hackshaw, Cochran, and Timmer. Seagrist and Law had 34 and 22 touches, respectively in the first half, while Moon and Wild each only had 15. It's ironic, or maybe genius managing by Max Rogers, that despite those few touches Indy's first goal came from a pass from Koffie out to the right side to Moon, who did what he has been doing, and attacked the goal before crossing to a sprinting Arteaga at the 6-yard line giving Indy the lead in the 26th minute. 

First Half Heat Map

Based on all of the above, it's further interesting to me that Indy's second goal happened because Wild was playing on the left side of the field. Koffie sent a long ball that Wild chased down, took on players, passed to Law, who fed back to Wild, who was fouled in the box for the penalty kick attempt by Arteaga. Indy's goals were scored as a result of the two players who were at the bottom of the team for touches in the first half.

First Half Shots
Indy was outshot by the Monarchs in the first half, 5 to 4. The difference was that Indy's shots came from inside the 18-yard box and the Monarch's shots were all from distance. Notable of those shots was an absolute screamer from around 25-30 yards away from Iloski that forced Farr into a save as he looked west into the setting sun. Even Farr joked after the game that he probably should have gone with the baseball hat like Jon Busch used to do in those situations.

So Indy went into the halftime locker with a 2-nil lead and Arteaga on a hat-trick watch, having scored both the run-of-play goal in the 26th minute and the converted penalty kick in stoppage time.

Real Monarch's starting lineup consisted of 7 Monarch's players, 3 players on Real Salt Lake contracts, and a goalkeeper so young (and apparently new) that he didn't even show up on the team's Game Notes. Oh, and he isn't even 16 years old. That's right, the Monarch's starting goalkeeper for this game is 15 years old.


Second Half Shots
Yet, Indy came out of the halftime locker with a guy on a hat-trick watch and a 15 year old opposing goalkeeper and looked to park the bus. It wasn't quite a Rennie Bunker because Indy still some opportunities on goal, but the field was definitely tilted in the Monarch's favor for the majority of the second half. At one point, the Monarchs had 4 or 5 corner kicks in rapid succession.

Indy's defense was stout and still limited the Monarchs to long-distance shots and half chances, but they also had some really good opportunities to get themselves on the scoreboard. 

Yes, Indy won.

Yes, Indy kept a clean sheet.

Yes, it helped their standings in the Division thanks to other results.

I just wanted to see them put their foot on their opponent's throat in the second half. As close to each other as the teams in the middle part of the table are to each other in the Division, goal differential is likely going to come into play and Indy still has a -5 goal differential. This was the kind of game where the opportunity was there to put some goals on the scoreboard like Atlanta and Loudoun did to Indy. Neither of those two teams bunkered and Indy's goal differential suffered because of it.

Maybe it was the heat and the age difference. Real Monarch's oldest player on the gameday roster is 27 and he was subbed out at halftime. Maybe the Monarchs adjusted better during the halftime break and used their youth and fresh legs (they hadn't played a game since August 7th) to take it to the older Indy team.

Maybe I'm just asking too much of this team.

Indy are now finished with their out-of-division opponents so every game from here on out take on a different meaning. Indy face Atlanta next Saturday at Carroll Stadium, sitting 4th and 5th in the standings and straddling the playoff line. There will be a lot to play for for Indy, including showing that the previous 6-2 loss to Atlanta was just a bad day at the office.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Arteaga finished the game with a brace and the game winner. That's good enough to get the GBGB by itself. The fact that he caused an opposing player to retaliate against him (Adams probably should have been issued a red card) and send Hackshaw (and others) sprinting to defend him means that Arteaga is well-liked in the locker room. 

Closing Comments

It has happened at other games and I should have taken the time then to acknowledge it, but I think it's great that we're starting to see more female referees in the USL at Indy Eleven games. Other than the yellow card on Adams that I thought should have been a red, I thought this group of referees did a good job. The AR on the main spectator side of the field was Rachel Smith and I just wanted to take a minute and thank her for doing a great job and breaking through the glass ceiling.

Thank you Rachel for being an example that I can show to my daughters.

And for the cheeky over-the-shoulder smile...

Additional Photos

1 comment:

JoeWags said...

“ I just wanted to see them put their foot on their opponent's throat in the second half” - could apply to tonight’s (Oct 2, vs ATL UTD II) game as well. I’m so sick of Indy trying to win every game 1-0. After scoring in the 53rd, we slow played every possible fast break opportunity. We even had a corner in the 88th where we sent a whopping 2 players in the box. No true aggressive attempts to score after the 53rd. And what did it get us? A 1-1 tie against a crappy team, thanks to a 95th min equalizer. Cowardly playing, and cowardly coaching.