Sunday, October 17, 2021

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 08.31



- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 6,499
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Farr, Buckmaster, Timmer, Adewole, Seagrist, Koffie, Partida, Moon, Ledesma, Law (C), Arteaga
- Substitutions: Ayoze 72' (Ledesma); Vassell 73' (Moon); Gutjahr 79' (Partida)
- Unused: Edwards, Doyle, Ouimette, Sissoko

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Arteaga 85'

- Bookings:
LOU - DelPiccolo 43' (Yellow)
LOU - Gomez 78' (Yellow)
LOU - McCabe 82' (Yellow)
IND - Buckmaster 90'+2' (Yellow)

- Referee: Ricardo Fierro
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
Indy Eleven came into the game against Louisville with 1W-1D-1L record this season, with Louisville having a history of getting positive results in games held in Indianapolis (in all locations really, but we'll keep it to Indy for this discussion). Before the game, Indy held a 2W-5L-1D record with 6 goals for and 14 goals against across all competitions held in Indianapolis. Thanks to an 85th minute goal by Arteaga, Indy walked away from the game with a win, won the season series, and kept LOU out of the top spot in the Central Division, now held by Birmingham. The win was the first step in keeping Indy's playoff hopes alive. The front office spelled out what it would take in this game's preview, so let's run through it quickly with some edits and emphasis from me:

When it comes to possible postseason inclusion, “The Math” has finally caught up to Indiana’s Team, which knows it must win Saturday – and over the following two weekends – in order to keep its slim USL Championship Playoff hopes alive.

Alas, here’s all that needs to happen for the Boys in Blue to make a mind-bendingly complicated run to the postseason come to fruition:

  • Indy wins its final three games (would earn maximum of 40 points)
    • Louisville - Check
    • Tulsa - 
    • Memphis - 
  • Tulsa (currently on 39 pts.) loses their final five matches
    • Tulsa would end on 39 points - drew to Atlanta tonight, putting them on 40 points
    • TUL owns fourth tiebreaker – regular season wins vs. in-division opponents – over IND (would be 10 vs. 11) - Ruh roh, it seems like the FO had a mistake here because even with Tulsa's result last night, Indy still isn't officially out of the playoffs. Though, a Tulsa non-loss does that, no matter what Indy does in the next two games.
  • OKC Energy (currently on 36 pts.) loses their next two matches AND defeats TUL in season finale
    • OKC would end on 39 points - play today against Birmingham and a win for OKC seals Indy's fate.
    • OKC owns second tiebreaker – goal differential in head-to-head meetings (5 to 4) – over IND
  • Atlanta United 2 (currently on 34 pts.) ties or loses to its next match to Memphis AND defeats Tulsa in its season finale - lost to Memphis
    • ATL could end on 37 or 38 points
    • ATL owns first tiebreaker – head-to-head regular season record – over IND
As Mr. Incredible says, "math is math," and right now that math looks like it has finally caught up to Indy, despite playing one of their better games. I receive the press releases for both Indy and Louisville and both teams had an argument for them being the better side and deserving of the win. Looking at all of the stats and putting on whatever rose-colored glasses you might be wearing as a supporter of either team, they're both right. This was an even game and some more clinical finishing by either team and this could have had a very different result to it.

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
I had two key notes in my book as I watched the game (finally back in the stadium after my back surgery). The first note was in the first half and I wrote that either or both of the Manu's would be getting a yellow card in the second half. Somehow, neither of them did. I'm not perfect.

My second note was at halftime when I wrote that this game had the feel of a game that was going to be decided by a single significant mistake. Given how the Indy season has gone, my fear was that mistake was going to be made by Indy. Fortunately for Indy, that mistake actually happened in the 85th minute when a Nicky Law cross/chip to about 8 yards from the goal line was attempted to be cleared by Gomez, who swung and missed, and the ball dropped perfectly to Arteaga who powered it home past Hubbard. Cue the smoke and cue the archery.

In Louisville's attempt to find the equalizer, Arteaga nearly had another and Vassell had a chance too in the closing minutes. In the end, the single significant mistake by Gomez was what decided the game and Indy's fans rejoiced a much needed win against a rival, not caring about the other results that could go against them. 

For further proof that I really don't know what the hell I'm doing and why anybody would read what I have to say...

In the 72nd/73rd minute, Max Rogers subbed off Ledesma and Moon, who I thought had been the most dynamic players moving forward for most of the night. In fact, I wrote in my notes that Moon seems to be the only player whose first instinct is to go forward, rather than backwards. He will make a pass backwards, but he seems to do it begrudgingly. In a game where Indy had to get the three points and needed to score goals, it seemed like an odd choice, particularly for Vassell who I have thought all season has had difficulty holding onto the ball and is easily dispossessed. Yet, after that substitution, the heat map confirms what the eyeball test believed to be true. The field was tilted towards LOU's goal and twelve minutes later, Arteaga found the back of the net and the defense held on to give Indy the win.

Rivalry games in lower division soccer seem like they are mostly for the fans because the players come and go so frequently that it's hard for the players to be as invested in the rivalry. So the fans' explosion of joy after the win was cathartic against a team that has had their number over the years, but after the game Max Rogers stated, “I think it’s more for the fans, to be honest with you, it’s bragging rights for them. In the team, we want to look at the bigger picture more and get into the playoffs and be challenging for things higher up the table. But for the way this year has gone, there’s no reason why we can’t be very pleased with how we’ve done in the series [against Louisville].”

As it stands, Indy took care of the first step and a long line of dominos have to fall to make the playoffs. They did the first step, winning the season series against Louisville along the way. Whether the game against Tulsa next Saturday means anything beyond pride for the players, could be answered later tonight.

Additional Thoughts

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
I missed her name (those kinds of announcements are hard to hear when the Exitos radio commentators are working the pre-game in the press conference), but will add it when I get it from the team. However, I think her performance of the national anthem was my favorite one of the season. Thank you Sha' Howard for an excellent version.

After the game, I was milling about and kids had started wandering onto the field after one of the security guards realized there wasn't any harm in it and either walked away entirely or was turning a blind eye to it. As I stood there, a little boy and his mom walked up beside me. You could just tell that he wanted to join the other kids, but was afraid he was going to get in trouble, despite his mom saying that he could go onto the field. She even said, "is the field lava?" at which point I made sure I caught his eye and jumped back off the field saying, "the field is lava?" About a minute later, mom was still trying to convince him that it was okay, when I noticed an unused ball near me. I went over to it, caught his eye again, and passed him the ball. The second that ball hit his foot, his eyes got bright, he smiled, and took off with the ball straight to the goal. Where he played with the other kids until mom and dad made him leave. I told her that it reminded me of a quote by a player (I left out that it was the quote by Luke Boughen that created the name for my site), where he said, "When the ball is kicked towards me, I consider the game beckoning me. The game wants me." That's all that kid needed. He needed the game to beckon him and know that the game wanted him. Whatever else happened last night with the game itself, it's that moment that I hope sticks with me for a long time because it made me so happy to know that such a simple thing from me helped convince him and brought him (and his parents) joy.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
You know you're going to get a couple moments from him where his sweeper-keeper mentality is going to make you yell, "NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!," but Jordan Farr is also going to make some great saves along the way too. If we're honest, of the three keepers that have played this year, you trust Farr's feet much more than the other two. The save immediately after halftime where he managed to get a paw to the ball to push it wide of net despite starting to lean the wrong way was athletic and required strong hands. He also had some really good punches on Louisville corner kicks to help clear the danger and let the defense reset. So for his effort, Jordan gets the GBGB tonight.

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