Thursday, September 30, 2021

Indy Eleven vs OKC Energy FC - 08.28



- Opponent: OKC Energy FC
- Location: Taft Stadium
- Attendance: 3,677
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Edwards, Timmer, Adewole, Ayoze (C), Partida, Koffie, Gutjahr, Seagrist, Torres, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Sissoko 63' (Partida); Doyle 74' (Ayoze); Ouimette 74' (Adewole): Liu 86' (Torres)
- Unused: Farr, Moon, Wild

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 12' (assist Ayoze)
OKC - Adekoya 87' (assist Basuljevic)

- Bookings:
OKC - Chavez 28' (Yellow)
OKC - Batista 65' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 67' (Yellow)
OKC - Cochran 82' (Yellow)
IND - Cochran 90'+3' (Yellow)
OKC - Bijev 90'+3' (Yellow)

- Referee: John Matto|
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

Here is the good news from tonight's 1-1 draw with OKC: 

  • Indy didn't lose. 
  • Indy scored a goal. 
  • Both of which they hadn't done in three games. 
  • Indy had as many shots on target in this game as they had in the previous three. 
  • Arteaga scored the run-of-play goal. 
  • Indy had an 80% shooting accuracy. 
  • Indy had an 81.3% tackles success rate (compared to the 25% in the game on Sunday). 
  • Partida played fairly well and was one of just a few who seemed to press hard on defense early in the game.
  • Indy is still mathematically eligible for the playoffs.

Here is the bad news from tonight's 1-1 draw with OKC:

  • With tonight's goal, Indy has scored 28 goals in 27 games, while conceding 39.
  • Arteaga had a penalty kick saved in the 81st minute.
  • OKC scored in the 87th minute.
  • Indy remains planted in 7th place in the table.
  • Indy lose another tiebreaker with a team in the 4th playoff spot hunt. Indy and OKC split the season 1W-2D-1L, but the next tiebreaker is goal differential in head-to-head matches, which goes to OKC 5-4.
  • You can only Rennie Rogers Bunker(TM) for so long. 
  • Indy used their final sub in the 86th minute. OKC score the game tying goal in the 87th minute and Wild and Moon are sitting on the bench next to Farr.
  • Mathematically eligible isn't the same as realistically eligible.
  • In my recap for the Tulsa game on September 8th, I estimated that Indy probably needed at least 5 wins and a draw to make the playoffs. Since that game, Indy has picked up 4 points out of a possible 15. With five games remaining, against ATL2, BRM, LOU, TUL, & MEM, I have even less hope they can get enough points to make the playoffs with only 15 points available. 

Random Thoughts:
  • Indy came into the game in 27th place in the USL's Power Rankings. What do you notice about the teams below them? That's right, they are all last place in each of their respective divisions, including Loudoun who is already eliminated from the playoffs (and embarrassed Indy 4-1 earlier this year). 
  • Admittedly, I don't watch every single game across the USL Championship, but Indy has to have the slowest counterattacks in the entire league. There is absolutely no urgency in the majority of them lately.
  • With guys like Ayoze, Law, and Wild who can provide great service, why does Indy get cute with their corner kicks and free kicks in the final third? Put it into the mix where you have Arteaga and Timmer (and Ouimette and Hackshaw when playing).
  • Farr has had some difficult bounces go against him this year, but Edwards' inability to play with both feet is a nerve wrecking affair for a team that tries to play out of the ball, seemingly at all cost. 
  • When does Indy run out of "must win" games? Soon, right? Then it's just playing for pride?

The Game Beckons Game Ball

As I said in the "good news" portion of my thoughts on the game, I thought Partida put in a good shift. Considering his limited time with the team, I thought he was effective in his role. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Indy Eleven vs OKC Energy FC - 08.27



- Opponent: OKC Energy FC
- Location: Taft Stadium
- Attendance: 1,960
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Edwards, Ouimette (C), Timmer, Doyle, Buckmaster, Koffie, Gutjahr, Seagrist, Wild, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Moon 18' (Buckmaster - injury); Liu 64' (Gutjahr); Ayoze (Wild) 75'; Sissoko (Koffie) 75'
- Unused: Farr, Partida, Torres

- Scoring Summary:
OKC - Chavez 30' (assist Bijev)
OKC - Daniels 74' (assist Bijev)

- Bookings:
IND - Seagrist 23' (Yellow)
IND - Gutjahr 45'+2' (Yellow)
IND - Koffie 70' (Yellow)
OKC - Kurimoto 90'+2' (Yellow)
IND - Sissoko 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Kevin Broadley
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

The phrase "must win" has seemed like a constant refrain for weeks now and Indy hasn't been very successful at doing that. As a result, they continue to find themselves on the wrong side of the playoff cut line for 10 out of the past 11 weeks. Atlanta and Memphis both hold the tiebreaker over Indy, further making their chances of making the playoffs more difficult. The result on Wednesday now determines who holds the Indy-OKC tiebreaker. Indy brought in four new players in the past two weeks to help that cause, but positive results in back-to-back games in OKC were a must to make the addition of the players meaningful and not just potential steps towards next season. A dwindling bench with Haworth, Cochran, and Hackshaw injured meant that Doyle has already seen minutes, and Partida made the trip to OKC. 

Another refrain that has been constant lately is that Indy isn't catching any breaks and the bad bounces just keep happening. Or that Indy continues to be undone with silly (or bad) mistakes.

So would you expect anything less than to see Buckmaster go down with what looks like a very serious ankle injury (they went straight to the locker room with him) around the 16th minute, further shortening an already depleted bench? Or how about OKC taking a ball from their endline as Ellis-Hayden dribbles about 1/3 of the way up the field, passes easily to Bijev, who dribbles another 1/3 of the way up the field, and then passes to Chavez who had beaten the offside trap, and easily puts it past Edwards? Full length of the field in two passes and Indy are down 1-nil in the 30th minute having already burned a substitute. 

As the first half continued, the fans who have been starting to worry about Farr's effectiveness watched as Edwards ran towards a long ball only to not touch it at all, and then whiff on another ball outside his box (and luckily watched it run across the endline). All of that was after Edwards came to his endline corner of the box and missed getting the ball completely, but was bailed out by the OKC player slipping and not being able to get a good shot/cross.

Forget it. Here's the basics of how this game was lost. 

Indy hasn't scored a goal in 3 games. 

Indy had a single shot on goal, by Law, in the 79th minute

OKC had 11 shots, 7 on target, for a whopping 63.6% shooting accuracy. 

Indy had a paltry 25% tackles success rate. 

Indy's final third had less green than my bank account when my daughter's gymnastics fees are due.

Right now, there is so much wrong with the way things are going that the addition of Ledesma, Partida, and Adewole look like extended tryouts for next season. The fans that still think there is a chance to make the playoffs are like the band on the Titanic, knowing the ship is going down, but trying to put on a brave face and doing your job of supporting. This team was rebuilt after missing the playoffs, and it is looking like an inevitability that this team is going to miss the playoffs this year as well. A new coach will be added and we'll see what players remain (I suspect at least a few are on two year contracts...Law and Arteaga if we're lucky).

Indy go again on Wednesday, maybe with Adewole in the bench, but I wouldn't expect him to play. As they mentioned on the broadcast, when you have back-to-back games like this, often times the second game feels more like an extension of the first game, picking up right where it left off. If that's the case, I don't see how Indy do anything but lose like they did tonight. Their lines were so spread out that OKC easily passed between them, there seemed to be a defeated mentality for a good chunk of the players, and they looked outmatched.

Indy play again on Wednesday at 8:30. Watch at your own risk.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Just so that I don't have to do the "Nope" thing that I did for the Loudoun game, I'm going to give the GBGB to Aidan Liu for making into the game. I never like to see guys make it through the entire season without getting minutes and he was the last one (not counting the Academy guys or the new guys). So good for him.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Indy Eleven to join the USL W League

It was a busy week for Indy Eleven as they added three players in three days, beyond the signing of Liam Doyle on the 13th. This week it was former 2018 USL MVP winner Emmanuel Ledesma on Wednesday, Kevin Partida on Thursday, and Tobi Adewole on Friday. Partida is already with the team, Adewole will be joining them in OKC, and Ledesma could be in town early next week. Indy has added some very significant players for the stretch run towards the playoffs. Whether the additions work, in the time remaining in the season, will be seen in the next couple weeks.

However, maybe more important than the four players that Indy has added this month was the other announcement that was made on Friday. Indy announced that in addition to the men's team and the Academy teams, they were going to field a team in the upcoming USL W League that is set to start in 2022. Indy will field a team in that inaugural season.

INDIANAPOLIS – The United Soccer League (USL) today announced Indy Eleven as the newest club to join the USL W League. Indy Eleven, a member of the USL Championship men’s professional league, will introduce its women’s senior team in the USL W League in 2022.

Indy Eleven is looking forward to other exciting news, which will also include future announcements around details surrounding its W League entry’s name, logo, and branding; home venue and training locations; staffing model and more at later dates accordingly.

“Indy Eleven has long desired to take a tangible step towards representation in the women’s game, and we are proud to partner with the United Soccer League and the W League to make that a reality,” said Indy Eleven President & CEO Greg Stremlaw. “Indy Eleven is eager to do our part in growing women’s soccer here in Indiana and, just as is the case with our USL Championship team, fulfilling our aim to be the premier club in the USL W League both on and off the field starting in 2022.”

This is something that many, maybe most, fans have wanted to see for a long time. I could probably create a long list of fans who have wanted to add a women's team to the Indy Eleven brand. Admittedly, most of those fans had envisioned that team to be a professional team in the NWSL. However, the USL has taken a serious step at creating more opportunities for women soccer players to continue playing beyond their high school or college years and for those who are not able to play at the highest levels of the leagues around the world. The USL has the aspirations to create a "women’s pathway [that] now includes the Girls Super Y League, the Girls USL Academy, the women’s pre-professional USL W League which kicks off next year, and the women’s professional USL Super League. The USL Super League will apply for Division II sanctioning from U.S. Soccer in the coming months." So this will cover all of the levels below the NWSL, and doesn't, at least at this point, directly compete with that league. 

Until today, the thought has always been that the Indy Eleven wouldn't add a women's team until they had their own stadium. Physically had the stadium and not just the legislative backing they currently have for the stadium. So this announcement came as a complete surprise to me. Everything I have ever seen from the team's financial packets provided to the legislature, a women's team was always included as being necessary to make the stadium work financially. I just didn't expect the chicken before the egg.

Again, those assumptions implied the attendance numbers of a typical NWSL, U.S. Soccer sanctioned Division I level team. The USL Super League is going for Division II status. The USL W League is further down the pyramid than that, consisting of "pre-professional" players. This seems to put the new Indy Eleven team somewhere along the lines of the teams that make up the WPSL. Indianapolis already has two teams that compete in the WPSL; Lady Victory FC and FC Pride. There is also a third team that seems to be, roughly, in the same level of play, which is the Indy Saints that compete in the Ohio Valley Premier League. All of these teams play at high schools with relatively small crowds. These are not the size crowds that Indy assumes in their stadium financials. Though, maybe having a team under the Indy Eleven umbrella will bring in a few more fans than what those other teams see.
Anybody else envision a Saturday doubleheader of the USL-W team, followed by the men's team? There is also the possibility that the Indy Eleven USL-W team, eventually, or maybe immediately in 2023, makes the move to the USL Super League when it starts. 

Sidenote: Laura Mills designed the Indy Saints logo and who has created some of my favorite Indy Eleven posters, including one that inspired a tattoo by Josh Lauritsen.

One of the things that stuck out for me in the announcement from the team and the league was the language that stated there "will also include future announcements around details surrounding its W League entry’s name, logo, and branding; home venue and training locations." All of this implies to me that there's a good chance that Indy Eleven's W team doesn't go by Indy Eleven. Given my above assumptions on attendance numbers, until the team has their own stadium, I would be surprised if the W team plays its games at Carroll Stadium. I would imagine that they play at a high school or at Grand Park on one of the grass fields. As far as the branding goes, as I stated on Twitter on Friday:

"Why would the team use any other logo except for the one that the men's team uses? Men's, Women's, Academy all under the same crest. All IXI family under same watchful eye of Victory." 

Andrew Schmidt replied

"Trying to not be completely cynical but I can see club brass thinking new brand = new merch = more revenue"

My response was that,

"I don't think this is cynical. To me, this is the only reason to have 2 "brands." I'm just of the opinion, that if it's part of "Indy Eleven Sports and Entertainment," then it should look the same."

Which is only partially true. I do think that they should be the same, for the very reason that I stated in the first tweet. The club I support in Europe follows that model.

However, this is the United States, and I can also see my daughters not wanting "their club" to look like "my club." I hate to say this, but Louisville's NWSL team could have easily followed the branding of the men's team and rode the coattails of a very successful men's team. However, they created a new brand under the umbrella of the Louisville brand and it's a good Racing Louisville brand. We won't get into the fact that Racing Indy was what the Indy fans were using as the placeholder name long before Indy Eleven became Indy Eleven. <sarcasm font>I'm sure it's just a coincidence, right?</sarcasm font>

I have also done the thought exercise on what a women's team might look if they didn't go with Indy Eleven branding. You've seen my articles on the stadium. You didn't think that was all I was thinking about, did you? 

Then earlier this year, Peter Wilt indicated in a response to a comment from Peter Evans that Molly Kruger, Tom Dunmore, and he (Peter Wilt) had also been flushing out those details. 

Beyond the fact that this had to be early in the history of the club since Tom left to go to IMS in early 2017, Peter indicated in the tweet, that the brand "wasn't IXI." When I asked Peter for some clarification about this he indicated, "It was consistent, but not the same. We liked the idea of [a] women's team having their own identity that had a thread connecting the two."

Peter, willing to share a lot of things with me, declined to share any of those details. Yet. So the rest of this is speculation and the results of my thought exercise on a women's team.

A thread that connects the two...
  • Checkers
  • Victory
  • Red and Blue
  • Star from the Indianapolis flag

Lady Victory. 

Indy Victory.

Peter Evans has said it. I've thought it dozens of times. Indy Victory with Lady Victory as the center just works. Even Lady Victory works pretty well. Though I can hear the folks that hate when female teams are called "the Lady Giants" or "the Lady Tigers." My point in this case would be that there are no "Victory" that the "Lady" is preceding. Lady Victory would be unique to the women's team. For the sake of the rest of this article, I'm calling the team Indy Victory, whether it is the name that is ultimately selected or not. "Indy Victory" can be the new "Racing Indy."

I don't know what kind of details Molly, Tom, and Peter decided, but I know that Patrick Cummings, the creator of Indy Eleven's crest and a large chunk of their early brand appearance, created multiple iterations of logos before the one that we all know was finally selected. What if it was some iteration of one of those? There were a lot of options from Patrick, so what if it was one of the versions that made everybody's Top 5, but wasn't ultimately selected (to be clear, I don't know that the one to the left was one of those, but it drew my eye in the above linked iterations). It's unique, doesn't follow the normal crest appearance, and seems to highlight Victory, a female, even more than the selected Indy Eleven crest does. 

Replace "Indianapolis XI" with "Indy Victory", adjust the colors so that the checkerboard pattern is different, and Patrick's Indy Eleven crest moves closer to an Indy Victory crest. For full disclosure, Patrick Cummings had nothing to do with the abomination edit of his original sketch other than to provide me with the original file above (I was having difficulty adjusting Victory's colors easily and didn't want, yet, to spend the time to do it properly). There's a lot that I don't like about my quick color adjustment, but it was adjusted mainly to prove a point. 

It isn't that difficult to take an Indy Eleven brand and adjust it to an Indy Victory brand with some "threads connecting the two."

I don't know that Indy Victory is the club's direction. I don't know that they will stick with the red, white, and blue. I don't know how an Indy Victory team affects, works with, or puts out of business the other pre-professional teams in Indy like Lady Victory FC, FC Pride, and Indy Saints. I don't know anything other than Indy has another pre-professional women's team to support, this one is under the Indy Eleven Sports and Entertainment umbrella.

For now, that's a good start.

I'm glad that Indy Eleven has finally made the step into the women's game. Giving more women the opportunity to continue playing is something I'm glad to see. I do wonder why it took this long? Indy could have easily added a team at this level in the WPSL or the OVPL, like the other Indy teams. 

I hope this signifies that whatever financial hit the team took with the COVID-19 pandemic, they feel secure enough to add yet another layer to the club. Lastly, this should further signify that a stadium IS coming, since having a dedicated stadium makes having a pre-professional women's team easier.

I look forward to seeing the details of the Indy Eleven USL-W team brand, and then learning how similar they are to Molly, Tom, and Peter's efforts. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 08.26



- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: AutoZone Park
- Attendance: 3,716
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Ouimette, Timmer, Hackshaw, Moon, Koffie, Gutjahr, Ayoze (C), Wild, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Doyle 55' (Hackshaw - injury); Buckmaster 73' (Moon); Seagrist 82' (Ayoze); Torres 82' (Koffie)
- Unused: Edwards, Liu, Sissoko

- Scoring Summary:
MEM - Murphy 31'

- Bookings:
IND - Moon 28' (Yellow)
MEM - Paul 56' (Yellow)
MEM - Reynolds 75' (Yellow)
MEM - Cropper 90' (Yellow)
MEM - Kissiedou 90'+6' (Yellow)

- Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

About 7 hours before the start of this game, Indy Eleven announced that Emmanuel Ledesma was signed and would be joining the team for the rest of the season. As I mentioned on Twitter after the announcement, a key part of what was sent to the season ticket members was the fact that Ledesma is "currently completing the paperwork process for entry into the United States and is expected to join Indiana’s Team as early as next week." That means that he, obviously, wasn't available for this game, but it also means that he won't be available for the first OKC game, and presumably, the second OKC game on Sunday-Wednesday. 

Now that I have that out of the way, welcome to your regularly scheduled complaint about soccer in baseball stadiums. Memphis' temporary turf looked two-inches thicker and heavier and with a very defined crease between the permanent grass and the Crapgrass. For those unaware, Crapgrass comes from a very specific seed that flourishes best in baseball stadiums around the country where USL games are played. Despite Crapgrass's proliferation on narrow soccer fields throughout the Eastern conference, Indy hasn't figured out to play on them. During Rennie's blow-up before exiting the team, he indicated that he had a vision for the way this team should play and they couldn't do that on the Carroll turf. Apparently, that vision has remained with Rogers and the rest of the staff, and also applies to crapgrass stadiums. The team has a certain way they want to play, and come hell or high water, they are going to play that way this year. With no Pasher this year to who they can bomb the ball over the top, the team continues to build slowly from the back, giving teams easy ability to get behind the ball in numbers and to cut off passing lanes. In this game, on this field, even the counter-attacks took a slow pace to them.

Last game, Hoppenot found a crap ball deflect off of him after a Ouimette slide to get to the ball, then Lancaster rises between two of Indy's best defenders and headers in Ouimette and Hackshaw. Tonight, Murphy is sandwiched between Ouimette and Hackshaw and Farr puts a ball off Murphy that bounces back over Farr and into the net in the 31st minute. 

Those are the kinds of things that happen in a season that wasn't meant to be. 

It also doesn't help that Indy's only shot on target came IN. THE. 10TH. MINUTE. Indy went 80 minutes (more if you count the 9 minutes of second half stoppage time) without getting a shot that required a save from Cropper. 

"One of the best build-ups, resulted, frankly, in nothing for Indy." - Rakestraw

He only said it once, but he probably could have said it more. Indy didn't give themselves enough opportunities to win and a weird goal for Memphis sealed their fate. 

With tonight's loss, the chances of Indy making the playoffs took one more extremely negative hit. Ledesma will get in town just in town to play the final 4 or 5 games, when it looks like it won't matter. The addition of his skill could be added too late to make any difference. Though that also requires some assumptions on his fitness, having not played in 3 months, and his ability to quickly acclimate to the team and Indy.

One fluke goal and Indy's season has all the appearances of being over. Yeah, yeah, they have points available and they can have results go their way and they can still make the playoffs, particularly with two upcoming back-to-back games against the current 4th place team. However, nothing about this season, including tonight's game where guys at times looked lethargic or resigned to the fact that they were going to lose, provides any indication that the season is going to end any way other than the way that it looks like right now. Indy on the outside, watching the playoffs from home and fans wondering what players, if any, will be returning next year, who will be coaching those players, and if those players will ever be playing at Eleven Park.

Indy plays OKC on Sunday and then again on Wednesday. Whether the effort to sign Ledesma means anything may likely hinge on what happens in the next week.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

There aren't a lot of positives that stick out in a game like this, but I thought Timmer had a decent game, considering that Ouimette was in and out a couple times with injuries, Hackshaw actually left the game with an injury, and Doyle inserted into the middle. Timmer dealt with a lot and mostly did so well. That's not the most glowing pronouncement for the GBGB, but that's what we get tonight.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 08.25



- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,499
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Ouimette, Timmer, Hackshaw, Moon, Koffie, Gutjahr, Ayoze (C), Wild, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Buckmaster 69' (Gutjahr); Seagrist 69' (Ayoze)
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Liu, Sissoko, Torres

- Scoring Summary:
LOU - Hoppenot 41'
LOU - Lancaster 36' (assist Hoppenot)

- Bookings:
LOU - Del Piccolo 32' (Yellow)
IND - Hackshaw 56' (Yellow)
IND - Arteaga 60' (Yellow)
IND - Timmer 65' (Yellow)
IND - Farr 71' (Yellow)
LOU - Hoppenot XX' (Yellow from the bench - at least according to Rake/Hauter but nothing official from the USL stats) 
LOU - McCabe 80' (Yellow)
LOU - Souahy 83' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jeremy Scheer
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

For those new to my site, here's a bit of a background on me. I'm not a journalist and this isn't my day job, which is being an engineer. I'm just a fan who has carved out a way to write about my local team. It wouldn't be accurate to describe my writing as journalistic, but my objectively tends to slide further on games against Louisville. Keep that in mind for later...

Indy Eleven - 1st 30' Distribution
Louisville has a way of keeping the same guys on the roster for long periods of time. They returned 18 guys from last season's Easter Conference finalist team. That familiarity breeds an understanding of where guys are going to be going forward, but also when in defense. Louisville presses hard on defense, leaving opposing players with very little time on the ball and forcing them into quick decisions; decisions that Louisville hopes are bad decisions. Indy has the technical ability to pass out of that pressure in a lot of positions, but clearly decided coming into the game that sometimes the best option is to go over that pressure. In the first 30', Indy was passing "long" at a clip of 34% of their passes, which is way above their season average of around 14%. By halftime, that number had reduced slightly to 29% at halftime, but it didn't change much during the second half. Indy finished the game at 22% of "long" passes. It's effectiveness can be debated when you look at guy's passing accuracy (even typically accurate passer Law was at 78%), but Indy never really went away from it.

Right before halftime (feel like those "adage" goals thing is something that has been a problem this year), Louisville got on the board through Hoppenot. Hoppenot... I hate that fucking guy. He just seems to have balls bounce his way against Indy. He's full of attitude. Yet, he seems to continue to find ways to run my night. Tonight, that was a toe-poke goal in the 41st minute that found its way under Farr and then an assist to Lancaster (who I dislike nearly as much) in the 69th minute that sent Indy to a 2-nil defeat. Hoppenot had just 26 touches and 10 passes (only 40% accurate on those passes) and Lancaster had just 16 touches (and just 4 passes!) and yet they find a way to get a win despite Indy having a legit case that they were the better team for good chunks of the game.

That is what separates a playoff team in Louisville, and a potentially non-playoff team in Indy. The bounces just haven't gone Indy's way this year and the yo-yo season continues. Indy needs positive results and they just can't seem to consistently get them. Thanks to the results tonight, and regardless of what happens with Memphis tomorrow, Indy finished the night in the same spot in the table as they came into it; in 6th place and out of the playoffs. The optimists will tell you that the next four games are against the three teams that are in the immediate running for the final playoff spot since it looks like Louisville, Birmingham, and FC Tulsa are closing in on wrapping up the first three spots. The pessimists (I'm one of those) will point out that the next three of those games are on the road (including a long road trip to OKC on a Sunday-Wednesday doubleheader), all take place within the next two weeks that continues Indy's month of weekend-midweek-weekend run of games (counting the exhibition against the Chicago Fire), and the lone game at the end of the run at home is against a team that has a 2W-1D-0L record against Indy this year, holds the tiebreaker, and has outscored the Eleven 8-3, including the 6-2 embarrassment in Atlanta at the beginning of August. Oh, and after that run of games, Indy play the current top three teams in the division. 

I feel like I have said this before, but Indy needed a positive result from this game; from both a confidence perspective and from their placement in the table. Yet here I am again writing about Indy's struggles to win games and their ever decreasing chances of making the playoffs. The bad news of any potential good news is that if Indy were able to make the playoffs, there's a good chance they'll be facing Tampa Bay, who haven't conceded a goal in 801 minutes after their 8th consecutive shutout. So there's that.

Yeah, I'm writing from a place, again, of pessimism. Another loss at home, to Louisville, will do that. Indy now head to Memphis on Wednesday before their two-game road trip to OKC. If Indy wants to have any chance of making the playoffs, they probably need wins in at least two of those games, and given that Memphis has games in hand on Indy, a win there would go a long way. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I normally give the GBGB to the most impactful player of the game, what would be considered the MVP by other outlets. With that in mind, I wasn't sure who to give the recognition. Then it occurred to me. Well, actually, I toyed with giving it to Farr for blasting a drop kick off of Lancaster after the second goal, but that's kind of petty of me, even if I enjoyed seeing that kind of emotion from a guy like Farr. 

You can tell how much a team appreciates a teammate by their reaction when that player becomes part of an altercation. Arteaga and former Indy Eleven player Tyler Gibson got into a shoving match and reinforcements were quick to come to Arteaga's back. So I thought about giving it to Arteaga for the love his teammates show for him, but I have a hard time giving it to the team's striker when he didn't have a single shot; not just on target, no shots period. Sidenote: this is back-to-back games where Arteaga hasn't registered a shot and he only had one shot the game before. That's not good.

But one of the guys that came to Arteaga's defense was Karl Ouimette. Indy's newest member of the century club, which he achieved with tonight's game, and the club's recent career games started and minutes played leader. From well away from the action, Ouimette came up to support his teammate and bark an earful at Gibson, who started the altercation with a shove in Arteaga's chest. Reminded me of a recent match when Hackshaw did the exact same thing for Arteaga. Defensive guys looking out for the offense. Yet, Ouimette's vehement defense of his teammate tonight gets him my GBGB in a difficult home loss to Louisville.

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Chicago Fire - Exhibition


- Opponent: Chicago Fire
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 3-1 L

- Starting XI: Edwards, Hackshaw, Doyle, Buckmaster, Koffie, Sanchez, Liu, Moon, Law, Revolorio, Arteaga
- Substitutions: 
30' Line Change
- IN = Tepe, Voiles, Torres, Minzey, Sissoko, Mackey
- OUT = Hackshaw, Buckmaster, Koffie, Moon, Law, Arteaga

60' Line Change
- IN = Svetanoff, Timmer, Gutjahr, Benitez, Wild
- OUT = Edwards, Doyle, Sanchez, Minzey, Tepe

- Unused: Farr, Dick, Cochran, Ouimette, Ayoze, Seagrist, Haworth, Vassell

- Scoring Summary:
CHI - 25' (own goal by Doyle)
CHI - 44' Rodriguez (assist Monis)
CHI - 54' Rodriquez
IND - 88' Wild (assist Torres)

- Bookings:
CHI - 49' Baumgartner (Yellow)
CHI - 51' Monis (Yellow)
IND - 73' Mackey (Yellow)
CHI - 90'+1' - Kocs-Washburn (Yellow)

- Referee: Unknown
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

I couldn't make the game, so tonight, you get a Recap in Tweets.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

For getting his first minutes (90 of them) in an Indy Eleven jersey (albeit in an exhibition game), and for being one of the Academy players to go the full ninety minutes, I'm going to give dual GBGBs to Aiden Liu and Ecris Revolorio, respectively. Great job guys!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Sporting Kansas City II - 08.24



- Opponent: Sporting Kansas City II
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 5,999
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Farr, Ouimette, Timmer, Hackshaw, Buckmaster, Koffie, Gutjahr, Ayoze (C), Wild Law, Arteaga

- Substitutions: Moon 74' (Ayoze); Haworth 74' (Buckmaster); Sissoko 82' (Koffie)
- Unused: Edwards, Revolorio, Torres, Liu

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Wild 77' (assist Moon)

- Bookings:
IND - Koffie 64' (Yellow)
IND - Hackshaw 87' (Yellow)
IND - Wild 89' (Yellow)
SKCII - Cuic 90'+3' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jonathan Bilinski
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Indy had 3 games this past week, with limited depth due to a number of reasons. From the departures of Smith and Hamilton, to the World Cup qualifiers for Vassell, to the injuries to Seagrist and Cochran, Indy's recent lack of depth has forced interim coach Rogers to stick to the same 14 players, but also suit some of the Academy players and Aidan Liu in the gameday 18 (notable that Liu is the only non-Academy player who hasn't seen minutes this year). Rogers didn't tap into the Academy players or Liu against Tulsa and didn't tap into those players in this game despite some heavy legs at the end of the game by some key players. With the current issues of depth, Indy might be regretting the upcoming friendly on Tuesday against the Chicago Fire, with a vital LIPAFC game against Louisville next Saturday. The heavy legs we saw tonight aren't going to get lighter with a mid-week friendly, unless Vassell, Seagrist, and Cochran are able to make their returns. Or unless nobody really gives much effort in the friendly...

1st Half Shots
Even with the heavy legs, Indy pressed early in this game and it presented them with chances. However, most of them were from distance as Indy finished the first half with 13 shots, but 8 of them were outside the box. Many of those shots seemed like an opportunity existed for a better, in the box, shot. With the shots Indy created in the first half compared to what SKCII was able to create, but without any goals scored to give Indy some breathing room, I was fearful that this was going to play out like some of the other games where Indy let "lesser" teams grow into the game and it came back to hurt them.

Fortunately for Indy, their defense consistently pushed SKCII into bad or long distance shots, most of which came after the 70th minute and only two in the first half. While Indy's 19 shots were buoyed by Wild's 8 shots (a few of them to the exasperation of Arteaga, who didn't register a single shot in the game), none were more important than Wild's 77th minute turn and score after Moon's insurgence of much needed energy put a ball in a place where Wild was able to finally get one past McIntosh. 

From that point on, it was Indy doing everything they could to defend the win, even with their heavy legs growing heavier. Indy didn't record another shot after the game winning goal, but some "professional fouls" and time wasting brought out two of their three yellow cards as Indy worked to secure the win. 

This game was a must win. Coming into the game, the 4th thru 7th place spots in the table were separated by 4 points, with Indy sitting in the 6th spot. While this "so called pundit" has been saying that the chances to make the playoffs were looking worse and worse with each result, a loss tonight would have likely pushed that door even further closed. Despite Indy's move back above the playoff cut line with this win, I still contend that a playoff spot is not guaranteed considering the games remaining. The win today didn't hurt their chances, which is what a loss would have obviously done.

In what has been a routine refrain regarding this team, Indy had to win to give themselves a chance to make the playoffs and do it against a team that they "should" beat. They only managed a single goal as their ability to put away their chances continues to be an issue, but that was all it took tonight with the defensive effort. At this point of the season, and with the team stands in the table, getting points and wins at home is what matters most, no matter how it gets done.

So Indy fans, celebrate a home win. Celebrate being on the correct side of the playoff line. And maybe, just maybe, root for Louisville tomorrow since a positive Louisville result is better for Indy than an OKC Energy positive result, and Louisville is going to make the playoffs anyway. If you can't bring yourself to root FOR Louisville, then root really hard AGAINST OKC. I mean, it's the least we can do as fans after the Indy players did whatever it took to gut out a 1-nil win against SKCII tonight after a rough, grueling week.

Again, Indy play Tuesday in a friendly against the Chicago Fire before playing another divisional opponent next Saturday against Louisville. Both games are at home so at least the team doesn't have any travel to deal with in this second of back-to-back weeks of midweek games.

Maybe this game is the start to proving me wrong. Maybe this is a playoff team.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Koffie Distribution
There are nights when picking a winner of the GBGB is difficult (or in the case of the Loudoun debacle, impossible), and I can't always pick Law (who had a team high 5 chances created). However, there are other nights, like tonight, when a single player stands out for me. Tonight, that was less so in the stats, but significantly with the intangibles and the eyeball test. That player tonight was Gershon Koffie. He was 94% accurate with his passes overall, and 92% accurate with his passes in SKCII's half of the field. He had some key passes and some very key interventions. He just seemed to make the right moves tonight, and I don't always think that about his play. He probably wants his two shots back as they were not really on target, but that's nitpicking on an otherwise stellar game from the Ghanian.