Sunday, March 26, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Detroit City FC - 10.02


- Opponent: Detroit City FC
- Location: Keyworth Stadium
- Attendance: 6,893
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Oettl, Boudadi, Diz Pe, Vazquez, Rebellon, Lindley, Blake, Quinn, Martinez, Asante, Guenzatti (C)

- Substitution:  Tejada 80' (Martinez); Robledo 87' (Quinn); Jerome 90'+8' (Asante)

- Unused: Trilk, Fjeldberg, Rissi, Torres

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Rebellon 62' (unassisted)

- Bookings:
IND - Boudadi 14' (Yellow)
DET - Ballard 16' (Yellow)
IND - Asante 21' (Yellow)
IND - Martinez 33' (Yellow)
DET - Matthews 39' (Yellow)
DET - Williams 48' (Yellow)
DET - Matthews 74' (Yellow - RED)
DET - Carroll 90'+6' (Yellow)
DET - Lehland 90'+9' (Yellow) 

- Referee: Jervis Atagana
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

In Indy Eleven's previous 9 seasons, they have started with positive results in the first two games (all away games each season) 5 times, only one of which culminated in a trip to the NASL or USL playoffs. So, Indy's four points out of their first two games is no guarantee of season success. However, Saturday night's match in Detroit looked like an Indy team that was in control of the game for the majority of the game. Despite the blustery conditions in Keyworth Stadium where the cold and the 30+ mph winds consistently pushed the ball everywhere, Indy was able to hold onto the ball, move it around the field, and set up good chances.

Indy had a 2 to 1 possession advantage, and were much more effective at controlling the tempo of the game. They struggled to translate that to a significant number of shots, but executed a short corner style set piece in the 62nd minute to perfection, which Rebellon blasted through so much traffic that Steinwascher could do nothing about it but watch it go past him as he was rooted to his spot. 

As I watched the game, every Tactical Tuesday that the team has released recently, came flooding back to me as Coach Lowry has explained the tactics of this team. When to high press. How to high press. Playing against a direct team. Why to high press. Exploiting wide areas. Lowry's explanation of Indy's system was in full display on Saturday afternoon against Detroit. 

The only deviation from his lessons on "when to high press" was a few moments when I thought the forwards were exerting a bit too much energy chasing the ball when Steinwascher had the ball. He's pretty good with the ball at his feet, which goes against Lowry's Tactical Tuesday lesson. Detroit certainly met the "playing against a direct team," though with more than 30% of their passes being of the "long ball" variety with a less than 60% accuracy (42% in Indy's half of the field). Many of Detroit's unsuccessful passes came from the back as the defense was forced to relieve some of the pressure. 

Detroit did manage to keep Indy to a 28% accuracy rate on their shots, and a paltry 17% on successful crosses, so those are some definite points the team would like to improve upon moving forward. It was also clear that Indy also felt that the team had an advantage attacking Detroit's left side of the field. There were many moments were Rebellon, on the left, was staying as close to the sideline as possible and was without any pressure, but the ball would swing back to the right side of the attack. I'm not sure what it was that Indy thought they could exploit, but it happened frequently enough that Rebellon's raised arms in the air caught my attention each time as he begged to have the ball swung his way from the center backs.

This was a good win, in a difficult place to play, during miserable weather conditions (despite what you might believe from the streaker that ran onto the field late in the game). Once Indy took the lead, and then had the man advantage after Matthews' 74th minute second yellow card sent him to the locker rooms to warm up early, Indy very professionally saw the game out. This felt like a different result than what last year's team would have accomplished.

There are still a lot of games to be played, but this felt like a different team from even last week's team, despite its positive result last week in Tampa Bay. Indy returns home to play their home opening next Saturday against Las Vegas Lights, and former players Justin Ingram and Andrew Carleton. I suspect the two players will receive different welcomes from the BYB, but maybe I'm wrong. It should be a win for Indy, but to this point in the season, Las Vegas is also undefeated, having played to a couple of draws against Rio Grande Valley and Orange County.  

My final thought on the game is that at some point during this season, Oettl is going to allow a goal from 40+ yards out when a player chips him after a bad giveaway from a player in front of him. He definitely played the "sweeper-keeper" role in this game (in line with the tactics laid out by Lowry in the Tactical Tuesdays), and it nearly cost him twice in this game. The first time, Detroit did find the goal after a giveaway by Lindley, but there was an offside call to negate it. The second time, it took all of Oettl's 6'-2" frame to stop the ball from going over his head. The play was ultimately stopped for another offside call, but my worry that this will eventually happen this season increased. I won't go so far as to say I guarantee it, but after watching it happen twice against Detroit, it seems highly likely.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Other the Rebellon's goal, this felt like a solid team win, so awarding the GBGB feels difficult to do. As a result, Rebellon gets it for putting his shot low, hard, and through traffic in a spot away from the keeper. With the amount of traffic in the box and the weather conditions, it's a shot that could have gone somewhere else, but his strike found the back of the net, giving Indy their first win of the season.

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