Sunday, April 3, 2022

Indy Eleven vs L.A. Galaxy II - 09.04


- Opponent: L.A. Galaxy II
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 8,037
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Panicco, Rebellon, Jerome, Cochran (C), Timmer, Ingram, Brown, Law, Aguilera, Fjeldberg, Pinho
- Substitutions: Powder 75' (Law); Briggs 75' (Ingram); McQueen 82' (Fjeldberg)
- Unused: Trilk, Michael, Ouimette, Revelorio

- Scoring Summary:
LA - Salazar 35'
IND - Aguilera 61'

- Bookings:
LA - Drack 11' (Yellow)
IND - Fjeldberg 12' (Yellow)
LA - Judd 39' (Yellow)
IND - Ingram 74' (Yellow)

- Referee: Nabil Bensalah
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

"Rather be in Naptown
than any place we know."
After being held scoreless in two of their first three games and getting a single goal last week in the draw against Louisville, Indy Eleven fans were hopeful that the first home game of the season would bring some offensive fireworks. Indy fans were rewarded to fireworks, but not many of the goal scoring kind. One of the team's new fan experiences this year are fireworks being set off during the national anthem and after the team scores a goal. Last night, Indy saw the fireworks during the anthem and then just one other time as Indy scored a goal in the 61st minute. 

A burst of rain immediately before kickoff gave way to clear, but cloudy, skies in the early part of the game. However, that burst of rain created the weird skips that Indy fans have come to expect from the deteriorating field at Carroll Stadium, but was not something that the players were accustomed to yet. Some early balls bounced harmlessly out of bounds when the ball didn't check up as expected, and others bounced up and out of reach of other players. Passes looked heavy as balls didn't slow down as they went from player to player. 

However, the weather didn't just bring that afternoon, early evening, rain. It brought with it wind. Wind that became increasingly stronger as the game progressed. In the first half, Indy was headed in the direction that the wind was blowing, and after a couple of good chances from LA in the first couple of minutes, Indy settled in and began to dictate the game and get the bulk of the chances (though not really the possession). However, they struggled to get shots on frame as everything was sailing high. It looked like every Indy shooter was leaning back on their shots forcing everything to sail high, but I asked Coach Lowry if the weather was affecting their shots too. 

"I think it was more just anxiety. It was excitement. It was [that] the guys were excited and it was the first home game. We have to be a little more composed in that area. I think the play to get there was great. A little more composure to hit the net would have been nice."

So now I know Coach isn't going to take the easy excuses with the guys.

However, when you don't finish your chances, even if you're in control of the game, eventually the opposing team is going to get a chance or two and put it away. When LA scored, in the 35th minute, Indy held an 8 to 4 advantage in shots, but a 0 to 1 disadvantage on shots on target. Indy finished the half with 9 shots to 5, but the shots on goal disadvantage increased from 0 to 2. To further make Indy's goal deficit at half more frustrating was that 7 of their 9 shots were within the box. These were not long-range blasts intended to test LA's keeper Sanchez. These were within close range, intended to put Indy ahead. Their inability to stay over the ball or their lack of composure meant Indy had to chase the game in the second half.

The Indy team I saw in this game is starting to more closely resemble what I expected to see from a Mark Lowry coached team. I still think there's a bit less possession that I expected, but that could be a misunderstanding on my part about how much possession El Paso actually held in the past couple of seasons. Yet, the team press, the play from the back, and the absolute bossing of the field from Jerome are all things I saw when I watched El Paso last year.

As with many games, sometimes the plan and the tactics give way to sheer effort, and maybe a little luck. With all of Indy's chances in the first half, it was an absolute busted scenario that gave Indy their goal. Sanchez came off his line to get a ball from Fjeldberg, but the ball found Aguilera instead. The lack of composure that was seen in the first half was nowhere to be found from Aguilera in this instance. As the ball bounced around, including in Sanchez's hands, it found Aguilera who shot the ball through a mass of humanity into the lower right corner of the goal. 

Unfortunately for Indy, they only had a single shot on target after the goal, and it happened with a minute of the goal. The number of shots for Indy was two more than they had for the first three games combined. So, while Coach Lowry and fans would like to see the finishing be a little more clinical and on-frame, it's difficult to fault their effort in getting themselves into position to take shots. As can be seen from the shot chart from the USL match center, Indy took just two of their 16 shots from outside the box. "We have to be a little more composed in that area,' reverberates in my ears as I look at Indy's stats. Indy put themselves in good positions, but let the excitement of the game and the home fans push their shots high and wide. That should get better as the season progresses.

The concern that I had for Indy after the first two games is slowly dissipating. They still have a ways to go, but I'm starting to see progress towards where I think they, and we, want to be.

After a Tuesday U.S. Open Cup contest against St. Louis City 2, Indy go on the road again to play Rio Grande Valley before finally coming back home for back-to-back-to-back weekends at Carroll Stadium to close out the month of April.

Some Final Thoughts 

  • It may have been brief, but #IndyForever Former Indy Eleven player Liam Doyle did a great job controlling Los Dos's backline.

  • Indy lines up in a 4-4-2 diamond under Coach Lowry, but that is a very fluid thing. There were times in defense that Indy was sitting in a flat 4-4-2. So while Hackshaw and Brown are listed in that defensive midfielder role, there were times during this game where L.A. was looking at two lines of very compact Indy players. 

  • Speaking of Hackshaw and Brown... Hackshaw has been the clear opening day leader at that midfielder position. However, his time away with T&T has given Brown a chance to shine in Hack's absence. The team was 0W-0D-2L with Hackshaw and 0W-2D-0L with Brown. Obviously, it's not necessarily a direct correlation, but I asked Coach if he was going to have a decision to make now that Hackshaw is back from international duty.

"Yeah, that's pro sports. Sam stepped in in Hack's absence and Sam's been tremendous. He showed how good he can be for us, a young player 25 years of age. So it's exciting to have that competition in place and that's what we want to create in the team. I don't think there's been enough of that the last couple of years. We want the guys to compete, in a healthy way, compete for the spot, push themselves to be better every single day and that's really going to bring the team together and make them better." 

I think Coach Lowry might be one of those coaches who could make me believe that I could help the team.

  • Ingram is a find. Coach had good words to say about him too. 

  • Periodically, I get reminded that Timmer is deceptively fast. 

  • Aguilera started off the press conference answering questions from Gus Ochoa of Casillero Deportivo and it was requested from Indy staff that questions/answers be in both Spanish and English. I have a good base for my Spanish speaking, but definitely am not as fluent as I would like, and definitely not in an ability to ask questions about a soccer game. Luckily for my pride, Gus asked all the questions from Aguilera that I would have wanted answered and didn't have to try out my Spanish speaking abilities. Gus started with Coach Lowry as well, asking the question in Spanish and English. Coach Lowry, to his credit, began answering in Spanish. Of course he did. He spent three years in El Paso, and has apparently picked up enough Spanish in his life to feel comfortable answering in both languages. He didn't continue that throughout the interview, but it's the first time that I can remember in all my years covering the team that the coach has done that.

    I think Coach Lowry might be one of those coaches who could make me believe I should help the team. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

In a game where Indy struggled to put shots on target, you have to give the GBGB to the guy who not only put on target, but in the goal. Right? Aguilera stayed composed and put his shot on target through multiple players. The goal became what saved a home opener loss into a home opener draw. 

Additional Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)

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