Saturday, March 12, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Loudoun United FC - 09.01


- Opponent: Loudoun United FC
- Location: Segra Field
- Attendance: --
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Panicco, Cochran, Jerome, Hackshaw (C), Powder, McQueen, Law, Rebellon, Ingram, Briggs, Pinho
- Substitutions: Brown 62' (Rebellon); Fjeldberg 62' (Ingram); Aguilera 90'+3' (Law); Ault 90'+3' (Briggs)
- Unused: Trilk, Timmer, Ouimette

- Scoring Summary:
LDN - Smith 43' (Ku-Dipietro)

- Bookings:
IND - Hackshaw 20' (Yellow)
LDN - Greene 62' (Yellow)
LDN - Hope-Gund 70' (Yellow)
LDN - Lilliard 84' (Yellow)
IND - Briggs 87' (Yellow)
IND - McQueen 90' (RED)
LDN - Smith 90'+5' (Yellow)

- Referee: John Matto
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

The Mark Lowry era starts with a whimper and an uninspiring 1-0 loss to Loudoun United, that also watched McQueen exit to the showers early on a late game red card. Luckily for Indy fans, there are 33 more regular season games before this season is in the books, but this was not the game that Indy expected with the hiring of Mark Lowry and the off-season signings.

To paraphrase Devon Kerr on the telecast, Lowry has indicated that what separates his preferred style of play now from his early coaching days is that he is less concerned with the aesthetics of how the game "looks" as long as the guys are playing the style he wants from them. This was certainly true in the game as Indy didn't maintain much position, finishing the first half with Loudoun holding a 67% to 33% advantage in possession, and that only got slightly better by the end of the game. More importantly, Indy went down 1-0 in the 43rd minute on a counterattack from Loudoun that didn't get slowed down, despite there being sufficient defenders back to handle the attack. Indy's only shot on goal in the first half came from local product, Justin Ingram, in the 2nd minute, and it was easily saved by Loudoun's Zamudio as Ingram didn't get much on it. Indy only managed one more shot on goal the rest of the game, in the 76th minute by Fjeldberg. That's a long stretch of the game where Indy couldn't put anything on frame. As can seen by the 1st half average position chart, it was a crowded midfield and Indy didn't have any answers on how to break through it.

This looked markedly different than the Lowry led El Paso games I watched last season. Possession was nearly non-existent, passes were not as accurate, and significantly more long passes. If we're being honest with ourselves, this looked like a Martin Rennie bunker and hope game on the road. I have full faith that this isn't what we're going to see every game, but this was not the start to the season that I wanted to see. With upcoming road games against Tampa Bay and Louisville, this has all the markings of Indy being in a 3-game hole before they ever see the home confines of Carroll Stadium.

Loudoun was awarded a penalty kick in the 78th minute on a questionable call on a shoulder tackle from second-half substitute Brown. Panicco went the correct direction and pushed Hopkins' ball away from the goal, maintaining Indy's ability to stay in the game. A scramble ensued before Indy finally cleared the ball. "Ball don't lie." 

However, better play does, and Loudoun deserved this win. They were the more dominant and more composed team. They created more chances, while limiting Indy to almost nothing. They took it to Indy from the start and Indy never found an answer against them.

Indy are going to need to figure some things out in the coming week, because a trip to Tampa Bay is on the docket for next week. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

In a game that looked like this, the GBGB came down to a single moment. To my knowledge, Panicco didn't get many moments during the preseason games, but stopping a penalty kick doesn't require you to have much time on the field with your teammates. It just requires you to guess correctly on the penalty kickers direction and then have a strong enough hand to it to push it aside. Panicco did that, keeping Indy from going further in the hole late in the game.

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