Sunday, October 3, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Atlanta United 2 - 08.29



- Opponent: Atlanta United 2
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 7,999
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Edwards, Gutjahr, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Sissoko, Ayoze (C), Torres, Wild, Arteaga
- Substitutions: Partida 45' (Sissoko); Law 45' (Torres) ; Vassell 82' (Wild); Ouimette 90'+2' (Arteaga)
- Unused: Farr, Doyle, Liu

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 53' (assist Ayoze)
ATL - McFadden 90'+5' 

- Bookings:
IND - Ayoze 15' (Yellow)
IND - Wild 25' (Yellow)
IND - Koffie 50' (Yellow)
ATL2 - Benitez 67' (Yellow)
ATL2 - Mertz 85' (Yellow)
IND - Seagrist 90'+4' (Yellow)
IND - Farr 90'+6' (Yellow - post-game altercation)
ATL2 - Diop 90'+6' (Yellow - post-game altercation)

- Referee: Greg Dopka|
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

The thing about being an Indy Eleven fan this year is that you know the bad things are going to happen. It's just a matter of when. Lately, it has also started to take on a feel of "just make it stop" and "when can it all be over?" That second one might have been officially answered tonight. Despite the additions of Doyle, Adewole, Partida, and Ledesma in recent days/weeks, tonight's loss (and Memphis' dismantling of Tulsa), in all reality puts the playoffs out of the picture.  

The depth has been tested as Hackshaw, Haworth, Moon, Buckmaster, & Cochran were all unavailable for the game. An 18-year old Academy player is starting games (to be fair, he has looked good, but was muscled off the ball a few times tonight). Gutjahr and Seagrist are playing right and left backs, respectively. One of my concerns early in the season was how Law would hold up towards the end of the season having come directly from playing with Exeter City, who were still in the midst of their season. Five games in 15 days and the turf at Carroll kept him on the bench in the first half. Rogers stated after the game that "Nicky’s obviously played a lot of minutes for me and done really well, so we have to manage him." Looks like my early fears may be coming to fruition at a key time for the guys.  Partida, who looked to be the most lively in the game in OKC on Wednesday, isn't really at full match fitness and also sat the first half on the bench. Both of those players came into the game immediately after halftime for Torres and Sissoko, with Rogers indicating that “the game plan in a sense went away in the first half. We saw it and didn’t really love it, so we brought on those lads to help us in the second half."

Halftime Possession

I feel gutted for Edwards because of the 90'+5' minute goal by McFadden that Edwards just couldn't seem to get in his grasp, but this game feels like a microcosm of the season. The bounces continue to go against Indy, they can't seem to capitalize on the chances they do get, and Indy absolutely allowed ATL2 to have possession tonight. ATL2 held a 71.2% to 28.8% advantage in possession at halftime, which only decreased slightly by the end of the game. Bunkering in OKC, which apparently was the game plan in OKC according to Interim Coach Rogers on Soccer Saturday, was also the game plan tonight and didn't work well in the end. 

However, Indy toyed with disaster for most of the game tonight. If ATL2 had been more clinical in their shooting, this game may not have even been close. ATL2 had 20 shots, with only 4 of them officially on target, but a few of them squeaked by just wide of the posts. Indy had just 6 shots, with 3 shots on target; the goal by Arteaga, a second shot by Arteaga that went straight to the keeper, and one by Law from 25 yards out that also went straight to Rios Novo. On a night when the rain and weather could have created all kinds of weird issues for the keepers (see the end of the game), Indy didn't attack the goal enough. I'm going to come back to that in a minute.

Rios Novo Touchmap
Speaking of Rios Novo, Indy's pressure was so relaxed at times that Rios Novo played more like a keeper sweeper. Rios Novo had 63 passes, with a 93.3% passing accuracy and routinely played +40 yards from his endline. He had a touch inside the center circle! This was all made possible because Indy has routinely shown throughout the season that their counterattacks don't always have much pace to them.

The most egregious of these counterattacks (for me anyway) happened in the 79th minute. Law pressured a ball at midfield that led to a hard pass from Stanley toward Diop. Partida went hard to the ball and poked it away to Arteaga 15 yards away. Arteaga collected the ball, turned, and dished it out to the wing to Ayoze, but then slowed down for just a tick until a streaking Law goes past him and must have said, "VAMOS!" on his way past. Wild was on the right side making a run in one of the closest things to a fast break that I can remember in the game, giving Indy a 4 vs 2 break. What resulted was no cross from Ayoze to any of the guys, but instead pulled it from within ATL2's box back towards the center circle and a safe pass to Koffie. On the other side of the field, Wild raised his hand in disbelief that nothing came from that attack. Meanwhile, Koffie sends "a nervy pass" in the general vicinity of Adewole, but Diop intercepted in a break the other way that Timmer did well to help usher over the endline for a corner. Not only did Indy not get anything out of it offensively, it nearly led to a chance on the other end.

There was another similar moment in the 72nd minute. Ayoze slipped a gorgeous pass through the ATL2 backline to a streaking Seagrist. Instead of putting a ball into the mix in the center of the 6-yard box where Arteaga was waiting and Wild was waiting on the far post, Seagrist placed a rocket into the wrong side of the side netting. 

Shots After the 53rd Minute
Indy's offense doesn't allow for many mistakes by the defense. Indy didn't create enough chances, particularly after going up a goal. After Arteaga's goal, Indy mustered just three more shots. One was the aforementioned shot on target by Law, one more by Wild in the 59th minute, and one was the aforementioned shot by Seagrist, which was Indy's last shot in the game. In the 72nd minute. 

Much like it came back to bite them in OKC, and seemingly frequently throughout the season, you can only bunker for so long before a defensive mistake overrides the lack of chances you are creating on the other end. 

The guys put 50% of their shots on target, but I don't think the tactics have been helping them recently. I'm just a "so called pundit," but whether I call it the Rennie Bunker (TM) or the Rogers Bunker (TM), it feels like a recipe for what happened tonight. There are obviously times when a bunker makes sense, but Indy attempted to do it for 90 minutes tonight and they succeeded for 90'+5', but eventually that bunker tends to break. 

At the start of the game, both Rakestraw and Hauter envisioned this game as a high paced game with both teams trying to get as many opportunities on goal as possible, because both teams absolutely needed the 3 points to give themselves a chance for the playoffs. Indy did not do that.

I don't know what to say anymore. This has been a frustrating season and the late-season reinforcements have been a necessity, but also seem like it's too late to matter. According to Stremlaw, Ledesma is now in town and so will likely be available for selection next Sunday against Birmingham. While BHM have already solidified their place in the playoffs, they're not going to let off the gas as the ability to get a home game is still in play for them. Given how differently Indy played tonight than I expected, I haven't the foggiest idea how they will try to play Birmingham.

On a more positive note, Ayoze to Arteaga. At this point, Indy should just put that on repeat. Arteaga finds ways to get his head to balls and Ayoze can still put a ball on a dime. Indy rode Pasher's ability to get past defenses last year. Indy needs to win out to give themselves a chance at the playoffs and Ayoze to Arteaga would be a good way to try and get that accomplished. Though as I said after the OKC game, "Mathematically eligible isn't the same as realistically eligible."

My favorite quote from the game tonight, that didn't have anything to do with the game was from Brad, who said, "I have a fan that oscillates. That's how I know that word." In a game were my brain was constantly wondering when the game was going to go down the toilet, that line made me laugh out loud.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It's not easy being a late-season addition to a team. I imagine it's exponentially harder to be a late-season addition and be thrust immediately into the starting lineup. However, that is exactly what has happened for Adewole and I think he has played extremely well given the circumstances. It's always difficult for me to pick a player for the GBGB in a loss draw. With very little time with the team and absolutely minimal training time with the guys given the playing schedule, I think Adewole is deserving of some praise for his ability to lead the back line with Timmer. So Adewole gets the GBGB tonight.3

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

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