Saturday, August 13, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Hartford Athletic - 09.23


- Opponent: Hartford Athletic
- Location: Trinity Health Stadium
- Attendance: 4,924
- Final Score: 2-1 L

- Starting XI: Lewis, Dambrot, Vazquez, Jerome, Timmer, Hackshaw, Ayoe, Rebellon, Tejada, Aguilera, Asante
- Substitution: Pinho 58' (Dambrot); Ingram 74' (Rebellon); Rivera 74' (Tejada); Cochran 86' (Hackshaw)

- Unused: Trilk, Brown, McQueen

- Scoring Summary:
HFD - Barrera 19’ (unassisted)
HDF - Martinez 26' (assist Saydee)
IND - Ayoze 45'+2' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
IND - Dambrot 33’ (Yellow)
IND - Hackshaw 43' (Yellow)
HFD - Barrera 53' (Yellow)
IND - Rivera 84' (Yellow)

- Referee: Benjamin Meyer
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

After a June that saw Indy spend the entire month away from home, and a July that bounced between home and away matches before settling into a 3-week homestead that concluded last week with a 2-nil loss to Pittsburgh, Indy began a two-game road trip on the road tonight against Hartford Athletic, one of the few teams in the conference with a similar current winless streak (Hartford at 7, Atlanta at 8, & Indy at 10). With two struggling teams, both teams go into the game feeling that they have a chance to get three points. The game taking place in Connecticut was one of the few spots where you could clearly give the advantage to Hartford. 

Indy allowed that advantage to solidify by giving away two goals in the first 26 minutes. Literally, gave them away. Hartford's first goal by Barrera was another goal where Indy simply did not close down the ball, and so Barrera dribbled the ball closer and closer to the goal until finally deciding that taking the shot himself was not only a good option, but the best option. At no point in the sequence did an Indy defender put himself in a position to slow or prevent the shot. The second goal was on a break and Martinez attacked faster than the Indy defenders and was left alone for an easy pass from Saydee. It was too easy for Hartford to find the opening goal and then expand their lead. 

Indy's touches and ball movement had my regular refrain this season; there were moments when they were really effective. One touch passes, working through Hartford. However, there were just as many moments where everything moved too slowly, and too predictably. It wasn't until late in the first half where Asante switched to the left side of the field where the ball was moved effectively, with purpose, and in a dangerous area. The ball eventually found its way to Dambrot who was bailed out from not taking a first-touch shot, when Jadama slid in and took Dambrot out, setting up a stoppage time penalty kick. In the game where he became the club's leader in appearances, Ayoze stepped up and buried Indy's first penalty kick of the season. The goal pulled Indy back within striking range going into the halftime locker room, but it shouldn't have changed Lowry's halftime speech.

Indy looked better after the break. Not sure I would call them the "dominant" side after the break, but there was definitely an uptick in their performance. Though, not counting the goal from Ayoze, Indy had another half where they had only one shot on target, so getting more than that in the second half was an improvement, All the shots were from distance and didn't significantly test Oettl, but they were on frame. 

Indy has added and removed players, moved players around, adjusted tactics, and continue to have issues around the box. The distribution chart for the game shows so much effective passing in their own half and even into Hartford's half, but once they reach a certain point in the field, they just can't break through. Shots, crosses, passes, all turn to red at that point in the field. As I said earlier, it gets predictable and easy for teams to defend. Another one of my refrains this season (and club history...) is that there is too much talent to get these kinds of results. Yet, game after game, right now those are the results that we're seeing. 

Indy haven't score more than one goal in a game since the Colorado Springs Switchbacks game, which is the first loss in this winless streak. Tonight's goal, from the spot, was just the third goal in nine games. Hartford and Indy had similar totals in shots and shots on target, but Hartford was more clinical, and capitalized on Indy's defensive mistakes. Coach Lowry continues to reiterate that this team is showing that it can complete with the best teams in the league. I continue to reiterate that this team is showing it can compete for small stretches with the best teams in the league, but can equally struggle against the worst teams in the league, and New York Red Bulls II and Hartford certainly qualify for that title.

The small optimistic side of me wanted to believe that Indy could make a run at the playoffs as the level of competition drops in the late part of the season. After tonight's results around the league, Indy sits 14 points out of the last playoff spot. It's nearly impossible to fathom a scenario where Indy make the playoffs this year. To make matters worse, if Indy can't get a win next week in Tulsa, there is a distinct possibility that Indy will go, at least, two full months without a win, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Indy not get a win until mid- to late-September when Indy play Monterrey, Loudoun, and Atlanta in consecutive weeks. The four games before that are all playoff teams.

This is difficult to watch.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I currently dread the Game Beckons Game Ball right now. For setting the clubs appearance record, moving to within 1 game of Ouimette's start record, and tying Kleberson for the club record in made penalty kicks, tonight's GBGB again goes to Ayoze.

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