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)

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