Sunday, August 28, 2022

Indy Eleven vs San Antonio FC - 09.25


- Opponent: San Antonio FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 10,081
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Trilk, Dambrot, Cochran, Jerome, McQueen, Brown, Hackshaw (C), Rebellon, Aguilera, Tejada, Asante
- Substitution: Vazquez 10’ (Cochran – injury); Pinho 73’ (Aguilera); Ingram 73’ (Dambrot); Michael 89’ (Tejada); Timmer 90’+4’ (Rebellon)

- Unused: Lewis, Rivera

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Dambrot 40’ (assist Tejada)

- Bookings:
IND – Tejada 14’ (Yellow)
IND - Brown 45’+4’ (Yellow)
SA – Khmiri 79’ (Yellow)
SA – Abu 86’ (Yellow)
IND – Trilk 90’+8’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Calin Radosav
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Ayoze was honored tonight before the game in recognition of his becoming the club’s appearance leader, surpassing Brad Ring, but he did it in street clothes with another injury suffered last weekend. Indy’s Injury Report looks like a list of “what-ifs” and “what could have beens.” Arteaga (who could be out the rest of the season), Ayoze, Briggs, Meredith (also likely the rest of the season), and Lewis as questionable. I’m told Pinho was supposed to be a starter tonight, but felt something during pregame that pushed him to the bench. Cochran went down with an injury in the 7th minute and Indy was forced to burn an early substitute. That makes it difficult to keep consistency and fluid thought processes, both offensively and defensively. It’s not difficult to see how this affects the squad as you watch passes go to nobody because one player thought another was going to make a run that they didn’t make (strangely, several times Aguilera was that guy that didn’t go where other players expected him to go). Or defenders who make the wrong read on a pass, letting an opponent get in behind them. 

Indy fans had hoped that Jordan Farr’s return to Indy would have been full of storylines about two top teams competing to stay near the top of their respective tables, and a good performance by Farr that ultimately went for naught as Indy won the game. What Indy fans received, however, was Farr’s San Antonio leading the Western Conference while Indy sits so far out of the playoff picture that the math says they have a chance, but all other evidence points to a final game against Birmingham on October 15th. While the playoffs look to be out of the question at this point, Indy fans were treated to see Indy Eleven's first win since June 4th, and postponing San Antonio’s ability to secure their place in the postseason, which they could have done tonight, by getting a 2-1 win over the Western Conference leaders.

IIndy looked like they were going to make it through the first half nil-nil, by dealing fairly well with San Antonio’s press. Indy spent enough time in SA’s defensive half to prove Lowry's belief that they can compete with any team in the league. A spectacular reaction save from Trilk in the 37th minute was a key part of keeping that first half clean sheet as he pushed the ball over the crossbar. Then pure effort by Dambrot in the 40th minute put Indy ahead 1-nil, and in a position they haven’t found themselves lately; ahead and ahead against a top team. After that, San Antonio ratcheted up the pressure as they tried to find the equalizer. Despite a nervy moment right before the halftime whistle where Indy gave up a free kick just outside the 18-yard box and picked up a yellow card by Brown that will force him to miss the next game due to yellow card accumulation, Indy’s defense kept San Antonio off the board. 

After the halftime break, it was good to see that Indy didn’t immediately go into a bunker in the hopes of defending for 45 minutes. That’s not Lowry’s style to bunker at that point in a game, but that is a tactic that Indy fans have seen many times over the years, regularly with predicable poor results. The lack of a bunker forced the Indy players to be switched on tonight for the entirety of the game and it allowed them to beat a very good San Antonio team. With the exception of the shots/shots on target advantage for San Antonio (12/6 to 5/2, respectively), every other statistic indicates that Indy went toe-to-toe with the Western Conference leaders.

There have been games this season where Hackshaw has not looked like himself, but he was playing inspired ball tonight. Hackshaw played in the defensive midfield role next to Brown, and it was effective tonight. In his captain role, he found good times to go forward, to be fully defensive, and when to use his captain armband to get in the referee’s ear. Jerome also looked like a different player tonight. No, I take that back; he looked like the Jerome that I saw in dozens of games for El Paso. It’s been a subtle difference between Jerome’s play in ELP and his play here, but he looked like the player that I saw more often in ELP. It was a good performance from the veteran players.
This was a good game for Indy. Indy played like a team that was not afraid of the fact that they were playing the team that has reached 50 points faster than any team in USL Championship history. They looked like the team that Lowry has hoped they would be. 

When asked why the team was successful tonight, Lowry indicated, 
"We had a plan to neutralize San Antonio's long balls. They have three big forwards; three big centerbacks. Definitely goes end-to-end very quickly. ...We knew we could control the second balls. It's been over the last three of four weeks, we're sticking to the strategy that we've been going on with the system and how we've been playing in general has been pretty good the last three games. So, it was coming."

Louisville comes to town on Wednesday, having lost to Miami tonight. Louisville isn't going to want to make it two losses in a row and are going to be more motivated then normal. Could tonight's win against a Western Conference opponent come at a price when the Eastern Conference leader comes to town? San Antonio is a physical team and Cochran went out with an injury in the 10th minute with a leg injury and was supported by the training staff on his way to the locker room after the game. Rebellon went off in the 89th minute after a few knocks. Tejada will likely be under concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head late in the game. With an already depleted bench, a midweek game against a motivated Louisville team who statistically dominated Miami but still lost, could make for a frustrating night for Indy if the player rotation can't be done for Indy. Luckily, Louisville will be on short rest as well.

For now though, Indy fans can celebrate a victory against one of the best teams in the league. Lowry has said Indy can compete against the best teams, and tonight I agree that they did just that, and not just for moments. Indy competed against one of the best teams for the entire game.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Dambrot started a home game for the first time, with his family in attendance. He hustled his way to a shot on goal that he put past Jordan Farr, who has 10 clean sheets in 26 games. The rest of his stats aren't any more eye catching than the other Indy defenders, but Dambrot provided the goal that gave Indy a win for the first time since June 4th. That alone might have warranted him getting the Game Beckons Game Ball, but it was the effort from him that he displayed to get that goal that pushes him over the edge. That's the kind of effort that this team needs for the final 9 games of the season.

Additional Photos (@DLTPhotog)

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