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.


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