Sunday, October 2, 2022

Indy Eleven vs FC Tulsa - 09.32


- Opponent: FC Tulsa
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,633
- Final Score: 4-2 L

- Starting XI: Trilk, Timmer, Vazquez, Dambrot, Hackshaw, Ayoze (C), Rebellon, Tejada, Pinho, Asante

- Substitution:  Arteaga 58’ (Tejada); Rivera 58’ (Timmer); Aguilera 69’ (Ayoze); Cochran 69’ (Jerome); Brown 69’ (Hackshaw)

- Unused: Vostal, McQueen

- Scoring Summary:
TUL – Sowinski 17’ (assist McFarland)
IND – Ayoze 24’ (unassisted from free kick)
TUL – Suarez 45’+5’ (Penalty Kick)
TUL – Sowinski 48’ (assist DaCosta)
IND – Ayoze 55’ (Penalty Kick)
TUL – Sowinski 62’ (assist Suarez)

- Bookings:
TUL – Sowinski 5’ (Yellow)
TUL – Bird 31’ (Yellow)
IND – Rebellon 45’ (Yellow)
TUL – Pearson 50’ (Yellow)
IND – Rivera 76’ (Yellow)
TUL – Epps 76’ (Yellow)
TUL – Powder 80’ (Yellow)
IND – Brown 90’+5’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Danielle Chesky
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

As I indicated on Twitter, after Ayoze’s 14 minutes on Wednesday night against Atlanta United 2, Ayo WAS the club’s leader in Minutes, Starts, Games Played, Assists, 5th in Total Points, 6th in Goals, and 2nd in Yellow Cards. With his brace tonight, Ayoze moves into 5th in Goals, tied with Dylan Mares, and 4th in Total Points. Ayoze has put himself at the top of the club’s entire record book. I have wondered for the past two seasons if he would hang up the boots and retire, and this year is no different. His ability, and his vision on the field is still high level, but he continues to pick up the periodic injury and may no longer be a full 90-minute player. With just two more games remaining after tonight’s result, and only one of those at home, Indy fans will have to wait and see what his, and Coach Lowry’s, plan is once we officially reach the off-season. A returning Ayoze wouldn’t surprise me, even if it is in a reduced capacity. His leadership in the team and in the locker room can be invaluable.

For the first time, at least to my memory, Indy had a female center referee in Danielle Chesky. Indy have had other female referees as the center, including Wednesday against ATL2, but I believe this is the first time it has happened in Indy. Overall, I think she did a good job, even if a bit trigger happy with the yellow cards, and it’s good to see more and more women getting the opportunity.

In my discussion about the ATL2 game, this game against Tulsa was important as it related to the final season table, and who could finish as the “best of the rest,” which was a stated goal from Coach Lowry after the game on Sunday. With Indy’s 4-2 loss to Tulsa, Tulsa clawed their way back in front of Indy by a point and both team’s final two games are still going to be important.

In the 11th minute, Tejada looked like he was knocked out after a one-time strike after a corner kick that went straight into Tejada’s head from a very short distance. Tejada managed to get his head turned slightly so that it didn’t hit him square in the face. He walked off the field, but his slow crumble and lack of movement as he laid on the ground was concerning. He must have passed the concussion protocol testing because he eventually made his way back on the field, but as I watched him fall to the ground directly in front of me from my perch in the press box, it made me wonder if he was going to join the ever changing, but always active, Indy Eleven injury report. 

Not long after the game restarted following Tejada’s injury, the defense pulled up for just a fraction of a second, but it was enough for Tulsa’s Sowinski to get to the ball before it crept over the endline, and fired it through Trilk’s legs to open the scoring in the 17th minute. Sowinski’s youthful exuberance meant he got to the ball, and he had enough confidence to put it on frame, even if it was a very small frame from a very acute angle. Seven minutes later, one of the youngest players on the pitch gave way to the one of the oldest players on the pitch as Ayoze set himself up for a free kick just outside the Tulsa 18-yard box by doing Ayoze things. He dribbled through traffic, felt enough pressure on his back/side, and placed himself on his stomach, giving Indy a free kick. Ayoze then proceeded to put an inch-perfect shot around the wall and inside the post past the outstretched arms of Wormell. 

Despite both teams getting some good possession and opportunities at goal, that was nearly how we finished the half. Yet, a late attack by Tulsa and an error by Timmer gave Tulsa a penalty kick in stoppage time of the first half. Suarez stepped up to take the kick and put it to the left. Trilk guessed correctly, but the ball bounced off him and into the right side of the goal. Indy went into the locker room down a goal, despite a relatively acceptable first half. Going into the halftime break, a 2-1 scoreline felt like it was definitely not going to be the final score of the game. I don’t know what Coach Lowry is like in the locker room, but the idea of a “Welcome to Wrexham” style Parkinson Enthusiasm counter seemed like a very real possibility.

Giving up a 3rd goal just minutes into the second half, and the second “adage” goal of the game, if Coach Lowry is prone to obscenities, they were surely in full effect as Indy’s poor defensive struggles reared their head again as Sowinski found the goal again for a brace. The two-goal deficit ramped Indy’s effort and were rewarded with the game’s second penalty kick of the game, this one converted by Ayoze in the 55th minute. Back to a 3-2 game, and it was Tulsa’s turn to ramp their effort, and they found their fourth goal, and Sowinski’s brace became a hat trick, in the 62nd minute. 

Coach Lowry stated after the last home game that one of the goals for the remainder of the season was to provide some excitement for the fans and to make The Mike a fortress. After the fourth Tulsa goal, Indy outshot Tulsa 7 to 2, but just couldn’t get any of them to find their way past Wormell. A combined six goals, 30 shots, 13 shots on target, 25 fouls, and 8 yellow cards fit the bill of trying to make a game exciting part, but a 2-goal deficit certainly doesn’t fit the fortress part. 

A Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday week of games is difficult during any part of the season, but is exacerbated when it gets to the end of the season and bodies are tired. Indy was able to rotate players this week to try and limit the amount of miles on players’ legs and bodies, but the week also puts a strain on players’ minds, which was part of the issue tonight for Tulsa’s goals. The mental mistakes is what may have ultimately doomed Indy in this game.

Indy get a much-needed break before taking on Charleston on Saturday, and finishing the season in Birmingham the following Wednesday. At this point, there’s just a week and a half left in the season before everyone can officially close the book on this season and begin thinking about the off-season changes and the hope for a better season next year. Right now though, Indy fans and players have to try and rationalize the fact that Indy beat the top two teams in the league in back-to-back games and then gave up 3 or more goals in 3 of the next 6 games. It’s been a forgettable season, and this was a forgettable game. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It's been hard this season to reward the GBGB, and I absolutely refused a couple times. There were moments this game where the quality of this team was evident, and moments where they look exactly like what they are; a team on the outside of the playoffs looking in. 

I keep saying that I don't know how many more games we're going to see Ayoze (and I've been saying if for a couple of seasons), but you can't deny his ability and the way that he can still often be the best player on the field. 

Even at his age, it can still take two or three guys attacking him from multiple angles to dispossess him of the ball, and even that isn't a guarantee. His footwork and vision is still high level. His dribbling, passing, and shooting are well above many of the players in this league. The only thing is whether he has the desire and the physical strength to continue past this season. Tonight, Ayoze gets the GBGB for his brace and for making us all feel like he might just be able to play until Indy plays their first game in their new stadium.

Photos (Courtesy of Don Thompson)

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