Sunday, July 31, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 09.21


- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 10,074
- Final Score: 3-1 L

- Starting XI: Lewis, Ayoze, Vazquez, Jerome, Timmer, Hackshaw, Ingram, McQueen, Aguilera, Asante, Tejada
- Substitution: Rebellon 52’ (McQueen); Wilfredo 64’ (Aquilera); Cochran 77’ (Ingram); Brown 78’ (Timmer)

- Unused: Trilk, Michael, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Aguilera 24’ (assist Timmer)
TBR – Dos Santos 32’ (Penalty Kick)
TBR – Scarlett 45’ (unassisted)
TBR – Fernandes 90’+6’ (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
TBR – Law 16’ (Yellow)
IND – Aquilera 35’ (Yellow) – will miss the next match due to card accumulation
TBR – Dos Santos 50’ (Yellow)
IND – Tejada 54’ (Yellow)
IND – Ayoze 79’ (Yellow)
IND – Rebellon 82’ (Yellow)
IND – Rivera 90’+1’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Joshua Encarnacion
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

Just two weeks after Indy and Tampa Bay embarked on a trade that sent Nicky Law to Tampa and brought Juan Tejada to Indy, the two teams faced off in a perfect night at The Mike with both guys in their teams’ respective starting lineups. Yet, those two players weren’t the only differences in the lineups tonight as the most recent loanees for Indy in Jesus Vazquez slotted into the starting lineup in place of AJ Cochran, and Wilfredo Rivera made the gameday 18 and found his way into the game in the 64th minute to replace Aguilera, who picked up yet another yellow card and looked on the verge of getting another by being just a tad behind on most of his tackles.

Wearing their highlighter yellow kits, Tampa Bay look ridiculous. Seriously, those uniforms are atrocious. They do not play that way though, forcing Lewis into his first of 4 saves in the 3rd minute. Tampa had 11 shots, 7 of them on target, and all 11 of those shots were within the 18-yard box. 

In the 5th minute, another backline error, this one by new signee Vazquez, looked like it might lead to another of Indy's self-inflicted errors. Luckily, Tampa didn’t make great decisions with the ball, and Jerome cleared it to the other end of the field. As Jerome cleared, he caught Dos Santos with a boot, which created a stoppage in play. During the stoppage, Ayoze found Vazquez and gave him a little bit of a talk; looked like a “don’t worry, we’re good.” With one more game, Ayoze will tie Brad Ring as the most capped player in club history. Captain Ayoze doing captain things with the new guy.

As Indy’s first goal developed, I internally questioned Asante’s decision to send the ball wide to Timmer. Nothing against Timmer, but in the moment, it seemed like a questionable decision to take a cross away from one of the USL’s assist and goal scoring leaders, and put it into the path of the team’s right back. Timmer then proceeded to put a cross in a good spot where Cochran couldn’t come get it and Aguilera made a great run to find the ball with his head and redirect past Cochran. I guess that shows why I'm sitting in the press box writing about games.

In the span of the next 8 minutes, the referee made two relatively questionable decisions. The first was not calling Tampa Bay on a call where Aguilera was taken down on a break. A few minutes later, the referee deemed that Lewis had taken down Dos Santos and awarded a penalty kick that made Indy’s lead short-lived. Both were close calls, but at this point in the season, and where Indy sit in the table, Indy can’t keep stepping on their own feet. Indy exacerbated that inability to get out of their own way by Aquilera picking up his 8th yellow card this season, meaning he will miss next week’s game, as Indy continues to struggle with having healthy bodies. Then Indy proceeded to give up another goal in the 45th minute from a corner kick, which forced Indy to go into the locker room with a completely different feeling about how the game was going than it would have been if they had been able to maintain the draw after 45 minutes.

The second half was tilted towards Indy’s defensive half, which was exactly where Tampa Bay wanted this game to be played. In moments, despite not finishing some of their chances, Tampa just played keep away from Indy, forcing defenders to run in circles. Indy managed a couple moments where they looked like they would threaten Tampa’s goal, but nothing significantly. In fact, Indy managed just a single shot in the second half. A lack of shots seems to be a routine refrain for Indy, and the season league stats indicate that Indy has the fewest shots in the league, whereas Tampa is ranked 6th. Tampa Bay had more shots in each individual half than Indy had in total. That's not how you win, or even draw, games, particularly against one of, if not the, best team in the league. The second half looked like a team that has struggled to get results against a team that hasn’t lost since a 3-2 loss versus San Diego at the end of April. These are two teams on different trajectories. Yes, Tampa scored two of their three goals by means of penalty kicks, the second by Fernandes in late stoppage time of the second half, but the better team won.

Indy wasn’t able to make a dent in Tampa’s lead, and in fact, conceded a third goal by way of another penalty kick in the 90'+6', tying it for the latest goal conceded by Indy in club history (a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United 2 in 2018). With the loss, I see no way for Indy to make the playoffs. There’s the game next week against Pittsburgh, who are in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference, away games at Hartford and Tulsa, and then back-to-back games against the teams leading the respective conferences in San Antonio and Louisville City. Without positive results from any of those games, and at this point, it would surprise me, Indy would need to run the table in September and October, and that seems unfathomable even though the level of competition isn’t as daunting as the current gauntlet of games.

Indy gets another chance next week to try and compete against the top part of the conference as Pittsburgh makes the trip to The Mike. Hopefully, both teams provide a better show of themselves than the 1 shot, 1 goal fiasco that was the first meeting between these two on a rainy midweek game in Pittsburgh. Coach Lowry thought that tonight's game against Tampa Bay showed that Indy can compete against the best teams in the league. For short stretches, I might agree with him, but in general, Indy is far from beating any of those teams. They'll get that chance next week. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I can't keep giving the goalkeepers the GBGB, but with four shots, it's not like I can give it to the forwards or the midfielders. Yet, I'm not sure that I can give it to Lewis tonight since a questionable decision to pursue a ball led to a foul and a penalty kick. I did think that Hackshaw had a decent game back in the holding midfielder role where he started the season for Coach Lowry, but is that an award by default? Maybe. So for another game, I think I'm going to abstain from awarding anybody with the GBGB. 

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901 FC - 09.20


- Opponent: Memphis 901 FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,020
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Lewis, Cochran, Jerome, Timmer, Ayoze, Brown, Aguilera, McQueen, Asante, Tejada, Pinho
- Substitution: Arteaga 13' (Pinho - injury); Hackshaw 59' (Aguilera); Rebellon 59' (McQueen)

- Unused: Trilk, Michael, Revolorio, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Asante 9’ (assist McQueen)
MEM – Goodrum 23’ (assist Buckmaster) 

- Bookings:
MEM – Smith 14’ (Yellow)
IND – Aguilera 24’ (Yellow)
MEM – Fernando 43’ (Yellow)
IND – Brown 79’ (Yellow)
IND – Cochran 90’  (Yellow)
IND – Hackshaw 90’+1’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Natalie Simon
- Adage goals: None.

Thoughts and Opinions

In the midst of the club’s worst slump in Indy Eleven's history, changes had to be made. The most notable of those changes came earlier in the week when the team announced that it was involved in a trade with Tampa Bay that brought Juan Tejada to Indy. Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, that trade sent Nicky Law to Tampa. I already expressed my appreciation for Nicky Law on Twitter the other day, so I won’t rehash it here, but I’m going to miss seeing his class on the field for Indy.

The rest of the shakeup is that Tejada slotted directly into the starting lineup and Arteaga and Hackshaw started on the bench. Missing from the starting lineup or the bench were Ingram, Fjeldberg, and Briggs. Based on Greg Rakestraw’s Soccer Saturday interview with Coach Lowry today, it sounds like there are more changes on the way. My gut says that one of those additions could be Richie Ryan. He’s out at El Paso, he’s a Lowry guy, and solves one of the problems that Coach sees as an issue. In fact, he stated that the team is missing an experienced player in the spine at either the #6 or #8 positions. Guess what Richie Ryan is really good at doing (particularly within Lowry’s system) and where he plays on the field? It might not happen, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me, and is probably one of the key pieces that could stabilize the midfield. As soon as I heard there were issues with Ryan in El Paso, I hoped he might find his way to Indy. We'll see if he is one of those players in the future.

One of the things that a trade like Indy experienced this week, and the starting lineup tonight, shows that nobody is safe. Everybody has to be accountable for the results when they have gone as badly as they have the last couple of months. Indy's effort tonight was drastically different than it has been, and as much as I dislike seeing Law depart, a good portion of that uptick in effort started with Tejada. Coach Lowry described it as a "determination," and I think that's a good way to look at it. The team were more determined to show they have the talent that we all think they do. 
"We wanted it today. So it wasn't pretty at times and I don't think it will all be pretty with this team necessarily, but there was a determination about the performance to defend when we need to defend. When we attacked, we attacked well. We won second balls. We did those things that allow you to stay in games and not concede goals."

Indy's goal was built from an absolutely stunning long ball from Ayoze to Pinho. Then reinforcements came barreling into the box. Asante, McQueen, and Tejada were all in the area. When it finally fell to Asante, his quick trigger finally ended Indy's goal scoring futility streak at 459-minutes. The thing that separated this goal from much of what we have seen in recent games is that Indy attacked in numbers. There were good portions of this game where Indy looked to be in a 3-4-3 (minimum) in attack with Arteaga, Tejada, and Asante all pushing forward, with Aguilera not far behind. That difference can be directly attributed to Tejada. While Arteaga and Pinho regularly press, Tejada's pace and constant energy was a difference maker in the setup for that first goal in over 5 games.

When MEM put early shots off the crossbar or post, it felt like some of those breaks that Indy hasn't been getting lately might be actually going Indy's way, and might be enough to help Indy get a result. Indy needs wins. However, with the way that things have been going lately, the fact that fans could leave The Mike and say, "they didn't lose," is a step in the right direction. The fact that it happened against one of the top teams in the conference further makes it feel like maybe they can turn a corner towards more positive results. 

For now, let's enjoy the sight of an opposing coach shrouded in smoke coming out of the BYB, something that Indy Eleven fans haven't seen since May 28th against New Mexico United. While Indy needs to do better at limiting their mistakes that lead to opponent's goals, the end of the longest losing streak in club history can be celebrated as a step in the right direction. Given the way that the results have gone the past 6 weeks, and the opponents, I was convinced that a 9-game losing streak was an unfortunate possibility. 

Next week, Indy welcome back Nicky Law and his new Tampa Bay teammates, for Indy's second game in as many weeks against the top portion of the conference table. Indy still has a hill to climb to get back into a playoff position, but tonight's positive result at least slowed down the downward spiral Indy had been on since the Colorado Springs Switchbacks' game.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I'm going to regurgitate my GBGB text from the NYRBII game, with a slight change.

"Sometimes it can be difficult to determine a recipient of the GBGB. Tonight wasn't even close. Lewis receives this game's GBGB, because Memphis had EIGHT shots ON TARGET." Admittedly some of those shots were from distance and weren't that threatening, but for his first start for Indy, he looked pretty good. His distribution was a bit rough at times, but overall, I was happy with his play. 

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Soccer SupportHER

This is one of my, lately, rare articles that isn't specifically a game recap, end-of-year recap, another coach transition article, or one of my many stadium discussion articles. I think the last one was probably my discussion about my foray into the Scottish Professional Football League and my decision to start supporting Motherwell (as with my support of Purdue, the Cubs, Indy Eleven, etc... that decision has about as much/more grief as it does joy, but I don't regret that decision. I'm glad to be a supporter of Motherwell from across the pond, but I digress.). So I hope this article ends up being a coherent thought of all that I have been thinking this year as it relates to the title of the article.

First, a little background and refresher for the new visitors to the site. Soccer has been in my blood since I was little. With the exception of a single year where I was a 7th grade wrestler (average ability, but still the best in my school in my weight class, which was the lightest weight class available), I literally never played a single minute of another organized sport, and I grew up in Indiana where playing basketball for at least a season is nearly #StateLaw (my fellow Indianapolis residents will get that one). Like my wrestling ability, my soccer ability was average to slightly above average depending on the time/league, but a college career or a professional career were never going to be in the cards. That didn't stop me from playing soccer year round; club, high school, rec leagues, indoor leagues, I found a way to play. Until my body started telling me that I shouldn't play anymore, at an age when I wasn't really ready to give it up.

Photo Credit: @DLTPhotog
After a bit of a soccer hiatus for me, Indy Eleven was announced in 2013 and I was immediately in. I started writing about the games from the start of the first season and have continued to let my keyboard be the way that I experience soccer now midway through Indy's 9th season. There was a few year run where I was a coach for my kids' teams, but they moved onto gymnastics, so I was back to this for my soccer fix. While my focus over the years has always mostly been Indy Eleven, I also wrote about the USWNT and the USMNT in the early days of this site. Like many U.S. fans, I watch the men, sometimes out of a sense of obligation to support them, and I watch the women because I honestly enjoy watching them play. That fact that Lauren Holiday was from my high school just added another layer to my support for them. Until my above mentioned decision to support Motherwell, I didn't support any other clubs, just the national teams.

However, Indianapolis is not without soccer teams to support. By my count, there are (at least):

  • Indy Eleven - men (pro - USL)
  • Indy Eleven - women (amateur - USL-W)
  • Lady Victory FC - women (amateur - WPSL)
  • FC Pride - women (amateur - WPSL)
  • FC Pride - girls and boys (amateur - Elite Clubs National League (ECNL))
  • Indy Saints FC - men (amateur - OVPL)
  • Indy Saints FC - women (amateur - WPSL)
  • Old Bhoys SC - men (amateur - OVPL)
  • Indiana Fire Academy (amateur - USL Academy)

That's what I can think of without trying that hard, and that list doesn't take into account Fort Wayne FC (men - USL League Two) or South Bend Lions (men - USL League Two), nor the roughly 30 high schools in Indianapolis (and however many more in the donut counties) or the 4(?) universities in Indianapolis that field soccer teams (same linked list + Purdue, IU, Ball State, DePauw, etc. within around an hour of Indy). Needless to say, if you want to watch soccer, you can probably do so on any day of the week, and multiple times on Saturday. 

So when Indy Eleven announced that they were going to field a women's team in the newly formed USL W League, just like the men's team, I was in. I just hoped that the schedule would allow for me to attend games. I wanted to more actively support Lady Victory FC last season, but, for some reason, the WPSL game schedule was filled with a lot of dates that I couldn't make. This is not my full-time job, I have a wife and kids with their own activities, and despite wanting to support the team, I wasn't successful at it. When Indy Eleven's schedule came out, it was more conducive to me making games, and I decided that if I was going to support them, I was going to do it just like I do for the men. That's why the articles on my site, and all the graphics, all have similar appearances. The women, even if "just" amateurs, were going to get treated by me just like the professional men. 

I hope that I have succeeded in that effort from the women's perspective. I have attended every home game. I sat in the press area and work on my articles (after the first game when the league and the mainstream media were in attendance, I was the only writer in the area, which isn't too dissimilar from the men's games if I'm being honest...), and I provide my thoughts on the games. I did post-game interviews with Coach Dolinsky and with the players. 

Whether they were being paid to play for the Eleven or not, I wanted to treat them professionally.

Photo Credit: @DLTPhotog
I'm ecstatic to see that there are others who treated these games the same way, Amanda Wallace and John Rice (Indiana's Mountain) are just a couple that come to mind. I'm less ecstatic to know that the club itself didn't always treat the team the same way. I have no doubt that they're going to use the women's winning of the Great Lakes division to promote the club, but I have struggled with how they promoted the team. The BYB tries to provide a similar environment, but I wish the club did more. 

Sidenote: I do have some issues with the BYB chants and heckling of opposing keepers. For all my talk that is happening in this article, it does feel like the heckling you would do of a professional male goalkeeper shouldn't be the same heckling you do of an amateur high school or college female. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but maybe take it down a couple of notches. 

For those who are unfamiliar or were not able to attend the women's games, here are just a couple of my (and some females that I know) objections to how the women were treated versus how the men's team is treated and my suggestions. 

Since the very first men's game, a game day poster has been provided to the first 500 hundred fans (I think that's normally the number), as well as a game day program. You can see a list of those posters here. What you'll notice is that there is only one poster for the female team's games; the very first one (which is a great poster from Laura Mills - see poster on the right). However, it wasn't until the Detroit City doubleheader that the women got another poster, and that's only because it was part of the doubleheader treatment. Apparently, the first poster was always envisioned by the club as a "one off" poster. I can tell you that it's not because there weren't artists willing to design the posters for the women. Nor were there game day programs for the women, except, again for that first game. I have been told from staff on the difficulty of providing a game day program for a team where the lineup can have as much fluctuation as an amateur team's lineup can experience. My argument to this is that the first program was a double-sided printed 11x17 page that was folded in half, and then folded in half again. It doesn't have to necessarily be a full-blown book, but something would be nice.

Why do I say this?

Photo Credit: Robbie Mehling
Because after that first game, I witnessed little girls (and boys) line up with their posters and their programs waiting to have these amazing athletes, females that they could look at and aspire to be like, sign their poster or program. I watched some little girls bring the poster back the next game to get other signatures. After that, there was never anything provided by the club for those little girls and boys to more easily facilitate them to have an interaction with Maddy Williams, Katie Soderstrom, Mackenzie Wood, or the McCarthy sisters. Those were potentially new fans that could want to see other games, maybe even a men's game. 

The club claims they want to grow the game, but, again apparently, without providing enough budget to do even what I would consider the bare minimum effort to help the fan experience. To me, it's not that difficult to at least look like you care, but not spend a ton of money. Print both team's rosters (Indy and the visiting team) on an 8.5x11 piece of paper so that fans can at least put a name to a number. Kids could get those signed if they wanted. If the numbers change (like the last home game where 14-year old Emma Johnson was wearing the jersey of #19 Selena Barnett), then have the PA announcer make an announcement about the name/number change. I just wish that instead of saying, "we don't have the budget" to do "equal" things for a women's amateur team as we do for a men's professional team, that they would have at least considered ways to do low-budget "equitable" things. I received a piece of paper telling me the rosters the last time I went to a high school game and that's, obviously, not associated with a professional organization. Grand Park seats around 1,000 people in the main stand, and that's been the announced attendance all season. That's 2 reams of paper at $15 per ream at Staples for a total of $30 so that fans know who is playing, and maybe even splurge and put the schedule on the back so that they know when they can see the team play again. So $30/game multiplied by 6 games, and you've spent less than $200. That's bare minimum effort to get you close to "equitable" even if not "equal," and that's more than what the club did this year for those kinds of things. Are there other expenses? Sure, but you're telling me that one of the club's sponsors wouldn't want to spend $200 to help cover the costs of those "programs" if their logo could be on it too? You can do the same kind of math with the posters. If you assume a crowd of 5,000 for the men (which is about normal these days) and 500 posters, that's 10%. 1,000 fans at the women's game multiplied by 10% = 100 posters. How much does that cost?

Why does this bother me? 

One because I'm human, and I hope, a good person and I don't think it's fair. 

Two, I have daughters and I regularly witness this kind of shit happening to them. 

Third, Indy Eleven NEEDS to grow their fan base. Every financial description from the club related to the future stadium has had the inclusion of a professional women's team to help make the stadium financially viable. You know how you have fans ready for that in 3 or 4 years? You treat the amateur team equitably or equally. Additionally, by my count, there were around 8 women on this year's Indy Eleven team who were on last year's division winning, and undefeated, Lady Victory FC team, including names like Soderstrom, Wood, Isger, Chatterton, Barnett, McLaughlin, not to mention Coach Dolinsky who lead Lady Victory and now Indy Eleven to winning seasons. You know who was on Lady Victory FC's team this year? Soderstrom's little sister Susie. Anna Isger, Abby's sister (I assume that's their relation). Including a few players who were playing (I think) for both Indy Eleven and Lady Victory like Chatterton, Dean, Barnett, Phillips, and Reason. 

Whether Indy Eleven's professional women's team is a 1st division team in the NWSL or a 2nd division team in the upcoming USL Super League, there is already an inherent connection between the Eleven squad and the Lady Victory squad, notwithstanding the fact that Dolinsky has coached both teams and works with the Lady Victory coach, Jimmy Carson, at Sogility! Treating this group of athletes and their fans well would funnel down into the next group of girls/women who may already be living in the same household as this current group. 

Photo Credit: Indy Eleven
Indy Eleven has claimed they want to be a premier club in the United States, regardless of division or league. To me, you do that by doing the simple things that I mentioned above. Indy may have one of the best streams for their USL W team than most other teams (thanks to Rakestraw and ISC Sports), but they are lacking on those other details. 

I also think that they have a responsibility to their own "brand." Ask Coach Dolinksy or any of the players that were on Lady Victory's team last year that were on this year's Indy Eleven team how many fans were normally at the games last year. The BYB didn't show up to those games (at least not in the same kind of numbers). I didn't show up at those games. The BYB was at the W League games because of the connection between the Indy Eleven and the BYB. 

If you want to grow your brand, it's all of those little details that can take them from a good club to a great club to a premier club. The USL W League has a hashtag of #SupportHER. I'm trying to do what I can, and I hope my club decides to do a little more for this team next year, particularly if Indy isn't one of the inaugural teams in the Super League.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Indy Eleven vs New York Red Bulls II - 09.19


- Opponent: New York Red Bulls II
- Location: MSU Soccer Park
- Attendance: 424
- Final Score: 1-0 L

- Starting XI: Trilk, McQueen, Timmer, Cochran, Hackshaw, Ingram, Aguilera, Ayoze, Asante, Arteaga, Pinho
- Substitution: Law 61' (Aguilera); Fjeldberg 69' (Ingram); Briggs 89' (Cochran)

- Unused: Lewis, Brown, Revolorio, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
NYRBII - Rafanello 53' (assist Adebayo-Smith)

- Bookings:
IND - Asante 45'+3' (Yellow)
IND - McQueen 49' (Yellow)
IND - Ayoze 75' (Yellow)
NYRBII - Cragwell 77' (Yellow)

- Referee: Melvin Rivas
- Adage goals: None.

Thoughts and Opinions

Coming into the game, Indy was on a 5-game losing streak (Indy's longest in club history), and a 4-game (360 minute) scoreless streak. NYRBII came into the game losing 4 of their last 5 games (3 in a row), on a 5.75-game scoreless streak (516 minutes; last goal was in 24th minute against San Diego on June 2nd), and having conceded 15 goals in that stretch, including a 5-nil result to El Paso and a 6-nil result to Louisville. 

Distribution from Indy Defenders
Right now, Indy looks like a team that doesn't know how to break down opposing defenses. Things take too long to develop, allowing the opposing defenses time to get back behind the ball. Once that happens, the ball heads backwards towards Indy's CBs and GKs. Then Indy's offense has to restart everything, but with the other team's defense setup and ready to defend again. So at some point, the back-and-forth passing and possession from Indy ends up being a long pass from the back line over the midfield in the hopes that the forwards can do something with it. However, the forwards end up being on an island as the midfield has dropped back to help get the ball forward. Imagine having Asante, Ayoze, and Law in your midfield and constantly bypass them, which is what Indy is consistently doing.

Then it just takes a couple of mistakes from the defense, or the goalkeeper, and Indy have to work even harder to try and claw a result. Tonight's mistake was that Indy's defense didn't track Rafanello on the left side. So in the 53rd minute, a cross from Adebayo-Smith went across the box untouched for an easy finish from Rafanello, and Indy conceded a goal to a team that hadn't scored, to that point, in roughly 6.25 games.

This team looks completely different than the Indy team before the June road trip. Indy's only victory since the road trip started was the 4-3, Arteaga first-half hat trick game against the near-the-bottom of the table Charleston Battery. Yet, Indy couldn't figure out a way to beat the actual bottom-of-the table New York Red Bulls II, who picked up their first home game win in the 2022 season, and only their second win all season. 

Let me rephrase that for those in the back. 

Indy lost to the worst team in the conference, and it wasn't even close.

Let that sink in.

Indy get to follow-up this game with three home games against the teams ranked 2nd, 3rd, & 4th in the conference (Memphis, Tampa, & Pittsburgh, respectively, and in that order). The way the team looks right now, this now current 6-game losing streak, and 5-game scoreless streak (450 minute) could easily balloon to a 9-game losing streak before heading on the road again to Hartford. An early season 4-game win streak turned into an up-and-down result period before the bottom has dropped out. 

At this point, can Indy find a way to claw themselves back into any kind of playoff position? It's the old Indy Eleven refrain. There's too much talent on this team to be getting this many poor results. Yet, here we sit hoping Coach Lowry and the boys figure out how to put together a game that doesn't look difficult to watch, and I'm not talking about the tactics. If Indy can't win playing "pretty" soccer, then they're going to need to figure out a way to get back to playing the "ugly" soccer that was at least getting positive results in the early portion of the season.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine a recipient of the GBGB. Tonight wasn't even close. Trilk receives this game's GBGB, because NYRBII had EIGHT shots ON TARGET. If it wasn't for some great saves from Trilk, this game could have been much worse. A 1-nil loss to the worst team in the conference could have been much worse if it hadn't been for a goalkeeper that keeps getting shoved out of the starting role, but keeps making saves.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Minnesota Aurora - 01.13 (Playoffs)


- Opponent: Minnesota Aurora FC
- Location: TCO Stadium
- Attendance: 6,200
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Wood, Chatterton, Bahr, McCarthy (Ro) (C), Smith, Rogers, McLaughlin, Cherry, Chester, Soderstrom, Williams

- Substitution: Leonard 45' (McLaughlin); Johnson 70' (Chester); Bulatovic 73' (Smith); Sochacki 82' (Leonard)

- Unused: Beard, Gajdobranski, Isger, Ware, Lindley (AND if I go by the USL W Match Center... Foulk, Lynch, Dean, MacNab, Marin, Barnett, Kraszula, Dewey, Phillips, Reason, Koger, McMahon, Soderstrom (Susan), and McCarthy (Ra)... the league is nothing if not consistent in their randomness of how things are documented...)

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Rogers 34' (assist Cherry)
MN - Turner 50' (assist Rapp)
MN - Inokawa 68' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
IND - Cherry 69' (Yellow)
MN - Bennett 73', 90' +2' (Yellow/Yellow - RED)
IND - Chatterton 79' (Yellow)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

I had hoped that I wouldn't have to write one of these; a post-game assessment of a loss by the women's team. It took all the way to unlucky game number 13 to do it, but the women were finally on the wrong end of a final scoreboard, losing 2-1 on the road to an undefeated Minnesota Aurora FC team. It's a shame that two of the three undefeated teams in the league played each other in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, but given the nature of the league, travel has to be limited. Yet, as a biased spectator, Indy didn't deserve to have their season finish on the road in the first game of the playoffs after going undefeated in the regular season.

Further, as a biased spectator, Indy was the better team tonight. The 6,200 fans in attendance may dispute me, but Indy dominated the first half. Indy was the better team, it was just that the team didn't get some of their normally electric effort to pay off. 

We saw it one other time this year with Soderstrom. She and Maddy Williams are human. They can miss penalty kicks. I don't know her that well, but I think Williams will tell you that she should have done better on her penalty kick attempt in the 25th minute. Maybe. But when the goalkeeper has already taken a good-sized step in the right direction before Maddy ever kicks the ball, the odds start to move more towards the keeper. Yet, even after the miss, it still felt like Indy's game. Rogers' goal in the 34th minute was the goal that Indy had been working toward all half. These were two high scoring teams and Minnesota wasn't going to go down easily, so Indy lone goal at that point didn't feel like it would be enough, nor that it would be their last. 

The second half just didn't go the way it was planned. An early goal after halftime. Then the slowest penalty kick in the history of soccer snuck by Wood's outstretched arms. After that, Minnesota just had to keep everything in front of them, blast the ball back across the halfway line when all else failed, and fall down at the slightest of touches. The refereeing reminded me of the difference between the refereeing in the Big Ten basketball season versus the refereeing in the other league's around the country. The physicality that was allowed in the Great Lakes Division was apparently more than what was allowed in the Heartland Division, and Indy doubled their season total of yellow cards in a single game, as Cherry and Chatterton picked up cards late in the half.

I don't know how to end this, and I hope to have some future women's team content soon. This is my ninth season writing recaps and opinions about Indy Eleven. I can honestly say that I have started to wonder whether I wanted to do it any longer. However, having the chance to write about this group of women has rekindled that desire to write. This is a special group that Coach Dolinsky put together and they deserved to go out with at least one more game in front of their home fans. Sometimes it just doesn't work out that way, but I can't wait to support the next iteration of this team next year.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Not today. No single player is getting the GBGB. I want it to go to the entire team for this game. The entire team deserves it for the game and for the season that provided Indy fans. Thanks!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Detroit City FC - 01.12 & 09.18

Summary - Women

- Opponent: Detroit City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 3,092
- Final Score: 3-0 W

- Starting XI: Wood, McCarthy (Ro) (C), Leonard, Chatterton, Smith, McLaughlin, Chester, Rogers, Cherry, Soderstrom, Williams

- Substitution: Isger 30' (McLaughlin); Bulatovic 45' (Williams); Dean 63' (Chester); Johnson 63' (Cherry); Kraszula 63' (Chatterton); Sochacki 63' (Soderstrom); Phillips 65' (Wood)

- Unused: 

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Soderstrom 25' (assist Chatterton)
IND - Chester 60' (unassisted)
IND - Soderstrom 62' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
DET - McCarthy 83' (Yellow)

- Referee: ??
- Adage goals: None

Photos from @DLTPhotog