Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Indy Eleven vs St. Louis City SC 2 - 2022 U.S. Open Cup


- Opponent: St. Louis City SC 2
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: --
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Trilk, McQueen, Ouimette, Cochran (C), Powder, Law, Brown, Fjeldberg, Aguilera, Briggs, Michael
- Substitutions: Pinho 63' (Fjeldberg); Rebellon 69' (Michael)
- Unused: Svetanoff, Ingram, Jerome, Revolorio, Timmer

- Scoring Summary:
STL - Armstrong 18' (assist Yaro)
STL - Kuzain 72' (assist Pompeu)

- Bookings:
STL - Kuzain 70' (Yellow)
IND - Rebellon 84' (Yellow)

- Referee: --
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

With three games in the span of a week, Indy Eleven adjusted the starting lineup across all levels for their first U.S. Open Cup game in three years. Trilk replaced Panicco in goal; Ouimette, Powder, and McQueen started along the backline; Fjeldberg dropped into the midfield; and Michael replaced him up top with Briggs. Interestingly (at least to me), when Indy played STL during the preseason, Indy’s starting lineup was fairly similar to the one that started tonight. 

While not an issue during this past Saturday’s game, the setting sun was a little bit of a factor in the early part of the game as Indy forced STL’s goalkeeper, Creek, to look into the sun. Unfortunately, Indy didn’t provide any meaningful threats on goal when the sun could have been a factor. In fact, in the 18th minute, STL put themselves ahead thanks to a shot by Armstrong that was blasted by Trilk after McQueen lost Armstrong and Yaro sent a looping ball over the rest of the defense. Down a goal early, Indy found themselves staring at an unfriendly deficit, bringing back nightmares of the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open Cup losses against the Michigan Bucks and Mississippi Brilla FC, respectively. 

Indy controlled possession through the majority of the beginning of the first half, but St. Louis’ press kept that possession in safe areas for them, including a significant portion of the possession being in Indy’s own half of the field. Indy could not figure out a way to break through STL’s high press and energy, and as the half progresses, possession began to tilt more and more towards STL. 

Zero shots. Not zero shots on target… Zero shots, of any kind, for Indy in the first half. STL’s compact line of defense was just impenetrable in the first half (photo to the right is from the second half, but the compactness of STL's defense was like that the entire game). As much as I was starting to feel optimistic about Indy’s offense on Saturday, I reverted back to how I felt when Indy played Loudoun in the first game of the season. To say that the offense was absolutely anemic is a gross overstatement. The offense was basically non-existent in the first half.

Immediately after halftime, it was clear that Lowry used some strong words and Indy responded with quicker passes and more urgency to get between or over the STL defense. Indy had more diagonal balls from Powder to Rodney. However, by the 60th minute, STL had weathered Indy’s initial post-halftime push and they settled into the adjustment.

In the 72nd minute, Indy’s backline again didn’t track properly and Diaz had an easy and clear shot on goal that Trilk had no chance of stopping. Despite Indy being able to generate more opportunities for themselves after halftime, STL still looked like the better team and found themselves with a two-goal lead. 

Admittedly, STL isn’t your typical third division team (as an example of that, there were five STL staff members in the press box, which is an absolute rarity for away teams against Indy… and that includes Louisville who doesn't have to travel that far), but it's not like Indy didn't know what to expect from STL since the two teams played to a 1-1 draw during the preseason. Indy looked uninspired during the first half, slower than STL in the second half, and just generally out of sync. I lost count of how many times passes were sent out of bounds as players weren't on the same page with each other.

Indy’s inability in the U.S. Open Cup has reached an absolutely frustrating level. Different players, different coaches, different schemes. The results continue to be the same for Indy Eleven when it comes to the Cup. An early exit. Unfortunately for fans who would like to see Indy succeed in the Cup, the trip ended tonight. Fortunately, it doesn't further dig themselves in the league table hole that they are currently digging. "If you want to get out of the hole, you have to first stop digging." The past two league games looked like Indy was at least slowing down on that dig, but after tonight's game, it looks like they might have started digging again.

The guys have a short rest and then travel down to Texas for an intra-conference clash with Rio Grande Valley FC, who is also mired in their own poor start. After winning their first game, RGV is on a three-game losing streak. After tonight's performance, I hope the guys are fired up to show that they just have a rough night against a good, fast, and organized opponent.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I could probably give somebody a game ball, but mostly only for their effort in the second half. At halftime, I would have been hard pressed to find any player that I would say stood out, positively, enough to get the GBGB. I think I'll give it to Briggs, for his desire (in the second half) to actually shoot the ball towards frame. 

Photos (Courtesy of @DLTPhotog)

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