Sunday, October 9, 2022

Indy Eleven vs Charleston Battery - 09.33


- Opponent: Charleston Battery
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 10,272
- Final Score: 4-1 W

- Starting XI: Lewis, Revolorio, Vazquez, Cochran, Dambrot, Timmer, Ayoze (C), Rebellon, Aguilera, Pinho, Rivera

- Substitution:  Arteaga 58’ (Aguilera); Jerome 58’ (Revolorio); Hackshaw 58’ (Rebellon); Asante 85’ (Ayoze); Tejada 87‘ (Rivera)

- Unused: Trilk

- Scoring Summary:
CHS – Williams 18’ (Barajas)
IND – Cochran 40’ (assist Ayoze)
IND – Pinho 48’ (assist Rebellon)
IND – Pinho 64’ (assist Arteaga)
IND – Own Goal 71’ (“assist” Arteaga)

- Bookings:
CHS – Paterson 88’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Cristian Campo
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Prior to the final home game of the 2022 season, Ayoze announced that he would not be returning, and that the game against Charleston Battery would be his last in front of the Indy Eleven fans. For all that he has been able to do over the years for the club and all the records he now holds for the club, Ayoze hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2019, so it was nice that his last game in an Indy Eleven jersey was a win. We’ve all seen what he can still do with the ball and that his touch hasn’t faltered, but the nagging injuries from seasons playing on turf probably weighed into his decision to not return. If Indy, the city, is lucky, then Ayoze and his family will choose to remain here now that his playing days in Indy are finished. If not, Ayo will still always be #IndyForever.

With just two games remaining in the season, the next being on Wednesday against Birmingham who will be fighting for one of the top 4 spots in the conference, Coach Lowry made some adjustments to the starting lineup as he tried to manage minutes at the end of a long season. The Kids, Revolorio and Rivera, started the game, as well as goalkeeper Sean Lewis who was seeing his first minutes since August after being injured. Starting on the bench were Jerome, Hackshaw, Tejada, Asante, and Arteaga, presumably to have the typical starters against “better” competition versus Birmingham. In the first ten minutes, Lewis was forced to make a few good saves, so “better” competition is a very fine line in the USL. With the lineup adjustment, Timmer slid into the holding midfielder role, continuing his jack-of-all-trades ability.

A frenetic pace in the opening minutes led to opportunities for both teams, but the field was tilted towards Charleston’s offensive half of the field leading to a goal in the 18th minute by Williams after yet another shot was squeezed through an extremely small opening between the post and an Indy goalkeeper. The goal was another example of Indy being punished by their mistakes. While CHS had early opportunities, this was another example where the goal shouldn’t have happened. There were multiple defenders who should have done better, and Lewis should have done better as well. Shortly after the goal, there was some miscommunication between Vazquez and Lewis where they collided with each other, showing that the players in this lineup haven’t had a lot of game time together in those positions. Indy looked out of sync early, and the goal and a collision between a defender and the keeper were the most obvious signs of it.

As the game crept towards the halftime whistle, Indy began to settle into the game, leading to a goal in the 40th minute on a free kick from Ayoze that Cochran headed past Fauroux to level the game. Amazingly, the assist from Ayoze was his first of the season, bringing his club assist record to 22, six more than second place Mares, but brought his season point total to 11 to temporarily equal that of Arteaga, both with 5 goals and 1 assist until Arteaga added his 2nd assist of the season later in the game. It was also Cochran’s first goal of the season, which was just the 3rd goal on the season from a true defender (obviously not counting Hackshaw’s brace since he has been playing more as a midfielder this season). The late first half goal by Indy is how the teams went into the halftime break. The scoreboard read 1-1, but Charleston led in all the other statistics, including possession, shots, shots on goal, and corner kicks (9 to 0). Charleston may be below Indy in the table, but they had a legitimate gripe about going into the break with an even score line. 

After the break, Indy tilted the field towards their offensive half and tilted it immediately after returning from the locker room. A 48th minute corner kick lead to a recycling effort that went from a chipped pass from the center of the box from Dambrot to Rebellon’s header back across the goal to Pinho’s header past Fauroux. With two adage goals by Indy on both sides of halftime, Indy went from a goal down to a goal up, and they didn’t take their foot off the gas. Less than 3 minutes later, Pinho put another ball off the crossbar, nearly extending their lead even further less than 5 minutes into the half. In the first 10-minutes of the second half, Indy had 4 shots; two of which were on target, and a third off the crossbar. 

Just before the game reached the 60th minute, Indy had a line change of substitutions, which led to another short period of the team being out of sync. It didn’t take long for the team to work out of the difference in personnel playing styles, demonstrating their ability in the process. The substitutions pushed Indy to a two-goal lead by the 64th minute, and then quickly to a three-goal lead in the 71st minute. The energy took a noticeable uptick from Indy in the 2nd half compared to the first half, but the substitutions, particularly Arteaga, took the game to another level. 

The goal in the 64th minute resulted from Hackshaw's newfound use of his ability to throw the ball in over the defense on out-of-bounds restarts in the opposition's half of the field. His throw was headed away by CHS, but only as far as Arteaga, who creatively put a header around his defender and into the path of an onrushing Pinho. Pinho collected, and then slotted the ball nicely around Fauroux. Indy then had opportunities on goal every two minutes until Arteaga finally saw his attempted cross ricochet off Asensio and past Fauroux for the fourth goal of the night.

In the 85th minute, Ayoze made his curtain call on his Indy Eleven career to a standing ovation from the majority of the 10,000+ fans in attendance. The referee tried to speed along the substitution, but Hackshaw and others appeared willing and eager to risk getting a yellow card for time wasting to be able to give Ayoze his proper due as he exited the game. I don’t know what Ayoze’s plan is for the future, but between his time with the Cosmos and the five seasons in Indy, Indy fans have been treated to an exceptional player. 

Indy ultimately outshot Charleston in this game, and finished with a comfortable 3 goal differential. Yet, the things that have plagued this team all season continued to rear their heads in this game. Seemingly whenever Indy has made mistakes, they have been punished for them. If Indy had been more clinical around goal, this game would have been a laugher. Rivera had an opportunity within the first minute that could/should have been scored. Pinho and Rivera both put shots off the crossbar from the six-yard box. Admittedly, Charleston could have added a couple of their own, making this game a 7-3 kind of affair, but those are the kinds of shots and defensive errors that have taken wins to draws and draws to losses. Coach Lowry is convinced that the players that he will keep from this roster and add to it during the offseason will push this team to a top of the table team next season. As I’ve routinely stated, I believe in Lowry. Only time will determine what players he keeps, what players he adds, and whether they are as successful as he has guaranteed, but in conversation after conversation with him, he truly believes that this season has been an aberration and will not be the norm for Indy moving forward.

Indy head to Birmingham on Wednesday before being official spectators of the playoffs like the rest of us. Whatever happens in the offseason and next season, Indy finished this season with a home record of 9W-2D-6L. It’s the 3W-3D-10L record on the road that did in Coach Lowry’s inaugural season in Indy. Yet, the success at home is promising, particularly given that the first part of the season was on the old, crappy turf that everyone is in agreement was horrible to play on. Indy will look to ride their recent good run of form to play spoiler to Birmingham’s postseason goals.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
It would be easy to give the GBGB to the sentimental favorite of Ayoze in his final game. Or to give it to Pinho for his brace. Both are worthy of receiving it. Yet, despite the fact that his stats are a bit underwhelming, I have to give tonight's GBGB to Rivera. His movement was good. His energy was good. He provided opportunities for other players. If he had his feet right, he would have had a goal within the first 50 seconds of the game, and if he had gone for a little bit more placement over power, he would have been rewarded with a goal in the 80th minute. The first one was unlucky. The second one is a shot that Coaches Lowry and Williams will show him in the video review, and one he'll learn from moving forward. That may not be in Indy, but rather back in Orlando City as his loan expires, but if Orlando don't see him in their plan for next year, I can definitely see him being a part of next season's Indy Eleven roster. 

Photos (Courtesy of Don Thompson)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck Ayoze in whatever is next.