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)

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