Sunday, March 6, 2022

Indy Eleven Season 9 Preseason vs Chicago Fire

- Opponent: Chicago Fire FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: Closed Door
- Final Score: 2-1 W

- Starting XI: Trilk, Timmer, Jerome, Guest DF #1, McQueen, Aguilera, Hackshaw, Ingram, Rebellon, Briggs, Guest FW #1
- Substitutions: Ault 45' (Guest DF #1); Guest FW #2 72' (Ault); Brown 72' (Guest FW #1)
- Unused: Everybody else

- Scoring Summary:
CHI - 13' (unassisted)
IND - Briggs 51' (assist Ault)
IND - Guest FW #2 84' (assist Briggs)

- Bookings:
IND - Hackshaw 22' (Yellow)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

I managed to make it to two of the Indy Eleven's preseason games. The first was against the University of Indianapolis and the other was this game against the Chicago Fire. However, the average age of the two opponents was probably similar as this was not the Chicago Fire first team, but rather some version of its Academy. Admittedly, I don't know what level the Chicago players fall within the Fire system, but they were a talented group of players. They pressed hard at all levels and consistently put Indy into difficult decision-making positions, often coming out the better of the challenge than their older professional counterparts in Indy. Nicky Law has seen a lot of players over his career, and I overheard him saying, "this guys are good. They were good last year too." While Indy came out ahead with a couple of second half goals that negated the 13th minute Chicago Fire goal, the result of this game, like most preseason games, was not the main focus.

As can be seen from the substitution list, this game was about getting guys 90 minutes of game action to make sure that everybody is match fit. A game the next day in Columbus likely saw the same kind of arrangement with limited substitutions. It also meant that the lineup I saw against the Fire was not the starting lineup that I expect to see this coming Saturday against Loudoun United. 

So how much can I take from this game? Maybe minimal, but there are some key things I noticed.

  • As I mentioned on Twitter, Trilk's voice CARRIED throughout Carroll Stadium. There weren't any fans to drown out his voice, but from where I was sitting 25 rows up and at midfield, I could hear every command he was giving his backline (and Hackshaw...more on that in a second). Trilk is really vocal and was constantly in communication with the defense. Maybe a little worrisome was that they didn't always listen to him, but hopefully, that was just some preseason "I'm going to try and do this against these kids" mentality. If there are breakdowns on defense this year, it won't be because Trilk wasn't offering advice. 
  • I like Hackshaw in the defensive midfielder role. It gives Indy all the things we like about Hackshaw (defensive prowess, his ability to go forward, his ability on set piece headers), but allows him to go forward more without his worrying as much about his defensive responsibilities, while also serving as a protector ahead of the centerbacks. Hackshaw received an emphatic warning from the referee, and then proceeded to get the game's only yellow card 15 seconds later on a hard (but probably legal) challenge. If he had waited 10 minutes, he probably wouldn't have received the card for the same challenge. It was funny to watch though, and you knew the card was coming out of the pocket as soon as Hackshaw did the challenge.
  • The offense that I saw in this game is not what I would expect from a Lowry coached team, but I think the tactics by the Fire players dictated that to some degree. As I said, the Fire players pressed hard at all levels and with a lot of pace. So there were more "long balls" from Indy than I expected or saw during the UIndy game, but they were often necessary as Indy tried to break the wave of Fire players coming at the ball. 
  • With that, Briggs fits the mold of a good target forward. At 6'-4", he towered over most of the Fire players and was able to receive the ball with his back to goal and distribute. So balls over the top weren't necessarily lost. 
  • I'm calling it now that Palmer Ault and Justin Ingram will quickly become fan favorites due to their ability and their energy.
  • The goal from Chicago was the kind of goal that fans hate to see. It was just good individual effort, but Indy should have had it covered. 
  • My only substantial concern was that the forwards and midfielders seem to be a bit too unselfish during this game. I know it was just in my head, but I could imagine the chant, "shoot the ball!" reverberating around the stadium. It's one thing in a preseason game, but I hope these guys don't translate their unselfishness to the regular season games when they are within the box like they were in this game. We can expect Arteaga to take shots, but I hope the rest of these guys do as well.

Other than being a bit colder than I expected it to be, I think this was a good outing for Indy. It checked some boxes as far as fitness, seeing how some guys play together, and maybe more importantly, was a good test against a team that was fast and pressed hard. 

I don't know how Indy did in the game on Saturday against the Columbus Crew's academy team, but the next game counts as they play Loudoun United on Saturday at 6:00 at Segra Field.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I'll give this one to Briggs for his goal and assist. 

Additional Photos (Courtesy of Don Thompson Photography)

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