Sunday, March 12, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 10.01


- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Al Lang Stadium
- Attendance: 6,893
- Final Score: 1-1 D

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

- Substitution:  Rebellon 59' (Rissi); Tejada 68' (Fjeldberg); Robledo 84' (Lindley)

- Unused: Trilk, Jerome, Torres, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
TBR – Areman 57’ (assist Dalgaard)
IND - Quinn 90'+6' (Penalty Kick)

- Bookings:
TBR – Dennis 2' (Yellow)
TBR - Guillen 27' (Yellow)
TBR - Dalgaard 38' (Yellow)
IND - Blake 63' (Yellow)
IND - Tejada 89' (Yellow)
TBR - Lasso 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

It's been 130 days since I have written anything at all on this site related to soccer or Indy Eleven, taking the full amount of opportunity available to me during the off-season to do other things, including using my writing chops to work on a novel that I've been trying to write for a couple of years. I was unable to make it to any of the preseason games, so my first look at this Indy Eleven team came tonight when they stepped on the field to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies. 

While I may have spent the team's offseason doing other things, Indy have been busy. There were only three starters that were on last year's roster, two of which weren't on the team at the beginning of 2022 (Asante and Vazquez), and the other (Fjeldberg) finished 2022 with a different team. Throw in the fact that Indy debuted their brand new red away jerseys, and to say that this is a "new look" Indy Eleven would be an understatement. Even the coaching staff has a slightly different look with the addition of Ayoze as an assistant coach, as he transitions from being a player. 

New goalkeeper. Vazquez was the only holdover for the back four. A new midfield. A new forward up top. This team has been rebuilt entirely with players that Coach Lowry feels fit ideally into his preferred 4-4-2 diamond/4-3-3 possession heavy, high-pressing lineup. Indy took that new lineup into a tough environment to play a perennial powerhouse in the Eastern Conference and came away with a 1-1 draw.

With all that being said, Indy stole this point from Tampa Bay. I know Coach thinks that the Indy deserved the point, and while there is some validity to that statement, Indy were fortunate to get a penalty kick in the dying minutes of the game. Yes, Guenzatti was fouled, but it occurred outside the box and shouldn't have been awarded the penalty kick. Not sure why it had it, but the game's Match Center after the game indicated a VAR review and a penalty not awarded. That has since disappeared, but it's like somebody in the league HQ disagreed with the call. Also makes me wonder if the league is considering the use of VAR, and testing it behind the scenes.

So, the team heads back to Indy with a fortunate point on the road due to some good fortune and some less than clinical finishing by Indy. Indy finished with 3 shots on target and 8 shots, but the late game drama should have never occurred if Fjeldberg had put away a point blank rebound shot in the 32nd minute off of a Blake shot from outside the box. Fjeldberg was active, but wasn't as clinical as he should be in front of the goal. 

We can chalk that up to this being the first game of the season, as both teams had moments where they looked disjointed and didn't know where their teammate was going to be or where they should be. Both teams are going to improve, but this game definitely had moments where it looked like they were playing a step up in competition from their preseason opponents.

During one of Coach Lowry's Tactical Tuesdays segments, he discussed a teams ability and need to not always win the first ball, but always win the second ball. If Indy is going to continue to win aerial duels at the rate they did against Tampa Bay, they better work hard to get to the second ball. Indy won just 18% of the aerial duels in the first half, and managed to get that to just 22% for the game. With the aerial presence we've seen out of past Indy teams, I can't remember ever seeing a discrepancy that large.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Oettl's save of Cal Jennings' 20th minute penalty kick attempt kept Indy in the game early as both teams settled into the game. He looked confident with the ball at his feet. As the team works to settle into their press and attacking, having his presence in goal certainly helped in this game.

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