Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Indy Eleven vs FC Tulsa - 08.23


- Opponent: FC Tulsa
- Location: ONEOK Field
- Attendance: 2.312
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Farr, Ouimette, Timmer, Hackshaw, Buckmaster, Koffie, Gutjahr, Ayoze (C), Moon, Law, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Wild 65' (Buckmaster); Sissoko 73' (Gutjahr); Haworth 77' (Moon)
- Unused: Edwards, Revolorio, Torres, Liu

- Scoring Summary:
TUL - Marlon 9'
IND - Arteaga 34'
TUL - Suarez 89' (PK)

- Bookings:
IND - Haworth 41' (Yellow - from the bench)
TUL - Corrales 51' (Yellow)
TUL - Marlon 67' (Yellow)
IND - Farr 88' (Yellow)
TUL - da Costa 90'+6' (Yellow)

- Referee: John Griggs
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Say what you want about soccer on a football field, but I'll take that every day over soccer on a baseball field. It's narrow, the turf transitions make it a game of two halves, and it makes everything a compacted battle in the middle part of the field. Games on this kind of field take quality level players (for both teams) and reduces it to bears on ice skates. Lucky bounces or a single moment can define the entire 90 minutes as players try to not end their season/careers by catching a bad patch of sod or sod transition and gingerly run around the field. Games on this kind of field leave a questionable call by a referee as the deciding factor in a game that, if we're being honest, was probably a deserved draw by both teams. So give me football lines every time. 

Coming into the game, Indy had been on a yo-yo, not having a consistent result in 10 games. Starting with a draw against Memphis, Indy results have been D-L-W-L-W-L-D-W-L. If the trend continued, Indy was due for either a draw or a win, which they obviously didn't do and the yo-yo stays down, waiting to get yanked back up again. 

While we can blame the field (and I will do that every single time any team is forced to play on a baseball field), or we can blame the refs (possibly), Indy didn't help themselves by once again giving up an early goal in just the 9th minute of the game. A goal that reminded me of the last second Indy miss against SKCII, but in reverse. Whereas in the SKCII game, Indy had three offensive players and Timmer put the ball off the lone SKCII player in the goal, this one had three Indy defensive players, with one TUL offensive player putting the ball past the three players (including Timmer). So Indy continue to put themselves in holes (metaphorically, but could have been literally with this field) that changes the way they have to play the games.

So while Indy needed a goal, they honestly looked like they didn't know what to do in the final third of the field. Passes when they should shoot; shooting when they should pass. Moon attacking seemingly all by himself, as if he was unaware that there were teammates on the field.

Maybe I'm simplifying, but even the Arteaga goal seemed to come out of nothing but confusion in the box that he manage to blast through three players. It could have just as easily been one of the shots that was blocked. 

While Indy did manage more shots on goal in the second half, the referee's decision to award a questionable penalty in the dying minutes of the game really only provided a convenient scapegoat for Indy fans. Indy didn't deserve to win this game any more than Tulsa deserved to win it. The weather conditions were better than this past Saturday's game, but the field more than made up for the perfect weather, resulting in, once again, ugly soccer on an ugly field.

The standings say that "there's still a chance" for Indy to make the playoffs, but I just don't see how that's possible. Indy have 10 games remaining, with 6 of them against the teams in the playoff positions. Indy play Louisville twice (in Indy, but I don't know if that's better or worse), OKC twice on the road, BRM on the road, and once more against the same TUL team that beat Indy tonight. 

In 2018, it took 48 points to make it into the Eastern Conference playoffs (in 34 games). In 2019, it took 43 points (in 34 games). Let's assume it takes 42 points this year. LOU is already in. BRM needs one more win. TUL needs two wins. Indy sits on 26 points, which means they need at least 16 points. What have you seen out of Indy in recent weeks to make you think they can get 5 wins and a draw to get to 42 points with the above listed games?

I wanted to try and stay optimistic, but tonight's loss sucked the remaining optimism out of me. I'm already starting to look towards what kind of off-season Indy will have and which players could be playing their last games here. That's a tough place to be with so much of the season remaining and I hope they prove me wrong.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Maybe Moon? He legitimately looked pissed off when he was pulled out of the game for Haworth and you can't question his effort. As I implied above, you might be able to question his attacking decisions at times on a field where everybody was so compact that one defender quickly turns into three, but Moon's effort gives him the edge for tonight's GBGB.

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