Sunday, April 9, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Oakland Roots - 10.04


- Opponent: Oakland Roots SC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,334
- Final Score: 0-3 L

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

- Substitution:  Robledo 68’ (Boudadi); Rebellon 68’ (Quinn); Tejada 82’ (Asante); Rissi 82’ (Dambrot); Torres 88’ (Lindley)

- Unused: Trilk, Jerome

- Scoring Summary:
OAK – Mfeka 43’ (assist Formella)
OAK – Formella 71’ (unassisted)
OAK – Rito 78’ (assist Nane)

- Bookings:
OAK – Morad 19’ (Yellow)
OAK – Klimenta 23’ (Yellow); 83’ (Yellow) – RED
IND – Tejada 85’ (Yellow)
OAK – Tamacas 86’ (Yellow)
OAK – Hackshaw 90’+2’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Matthew Thompson
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

To complete Indy’s three games in a week run to start the month of April, Indy have welcomed former teammates and old friends to The Mike. This week, Neveal Hackshaw made his return to Indy with his new club Oakland Roots. While Hackshaw has long been a fan favorite of Indy fans, for the ninety-minutes of this game, Hack was just another player to harass. Afterwards though, the BYB called Hackshaw over to say hello, and he obliged because he's a good dude.

Both Indy and Oakland entered this game having played mid-week games as part of the U.S. Open Cup; Indy against Michigan Stars, and Oakland against El Farolito FC. Oakland played on Tuesday night and had an easier time with their opponent than Indy did with theirs. They both finished their games with 3-1 scorelines, but Indy’s victory took extra time to accomplish, meaning Indy had a day less rest and another 30 minutes of action on their legs. Boudadi, Vazquez, and Guenzatti all went the distance in the game against a physical Michigan Stars team, putting 210 minutes of game time (plus stoppage times) on their bodies this week before they played a single minute in tonight’s game. Vazquez and Guenzatti played the entirety of this game to be the week’s iron men.  

Remember when I said a couple games ago that it was unclear whether we were starting to see Coach Lowry’s preferred starters from a deep, but not large, roster? Well, four games in and I think we can definitively say we know his preferred starters. In Indy’s first 4 league games, Lowry has started 9 of the same 11 players in every single game. Oettl is the team’s #1 keeper. Vazquez and Diz Pe are the preferred centerback pairing, with Boudadi on the right side. Lindley, Blake, and Quinn are the midfield, and Asante and Guenzatti are up top. The other 2 spots in the starting lineup have been spread out between Dambrot, Fjeldberg, Martinez, Rebellon, and Rissi.   

In a rarity so far this season, Oakland controlled the early possession, ultimately forcing Oettl into more saves than he’s had the entirety of the rest of the season combined. Whereas Las Vegas and Michigan set back in an attempt to stifle Indy’s attack, Oakland came out in a much more attacking mode. When Indy had the ball in Oettl’s hands/feet, Oakland had three players in position to immediately press once he laid the ball off to the defenders or midfielders. If Indy broke the initial pressure, Oakland were quick to recover to set up a back line of 5 defenders. In the early stages of the game, Indy found it difficult to get the ball through that back line as the passing lanes closed.

Once Indy’s press became quicker and further up the field, Indy’s possession numbers began to increase, and Oakland found themselves on their heels needing to have some last-ditch defensive recoveries. Around the 15th minute, Indy began to alternate between decent chances and corner kicks. Unfortunately, none of those chances resulted in a goal, but the attack was persistent. 

Oakland found some counterattacks around the 30th minute, but they couldn’t do much with their opportunities either until the 43rd minute when Formella put a ball over the top that found Mfeka sprinting through the back line and in a spot that forced Oettl to make a decision. He was unable to get to the ball as Mfeka tapped the ball around Oettl, and he easily ushered the ball across the line, putting Oakland up right before halftime. Oakland had attempted this same play several times leading up to their goal, but had either been called offside or Oettl had bailed out the defenders by getting to the ball. In that goal scoring instance, all the things Oakland had been trying to do finally worked and had them celebrating a lead in the halftime locker. 

Oakland put a second goal on the board in the 71st minute due to a bad giveaway as Indy tried to play out of the back. The initial shot from Mfeka was blocked by Oettl, but the follow-up from Formella was blasted by both Diz Pe and Oettl who were left scrambling to get a body part in front of his shot. Neither could do anything with the shot, and Indy found themselves staring at a two-goal deficit with time running thin. At which point, Indy turned up the pressure, which further opened up the game for Oakland’s counterattack. Oakland fixed that pressure by scoring their third goal of the game, in the 78th minute, in much the same fashion as their first goal; a perfectly timed pass that broke Indy’s off-side trap, and sent Rito one-on-one with Oettl. Rito chipped Oettl who was making a run out to cut off the angle, and Indy found themselves down 3-nil. 

Spectators began their departure from the stadium, and all they really missed after that 78th minute goal was Hackshaw making his appearance into the game, and a second yellow card on Klimenta that allowed Indy to finish the game with a man advantage. Interestingly, Oakland's 3rd goal pushed Indy into a dubious milestone since the goal was the club's 400th conceded goal in club history (across all competitions, including the mid-season friendlies that don't count towards the "official" stats). If that makes you wonder, Indy have 370 goals. If that makes you wonder, Indy have had just 3 seasons with positive goal differentials, with 2016 at +21 and 2019 at +20, which not surprisingly, also coincided with Indy's two most successful postseason runs. 

Indy’s persistent inability to capitalize on their chances in the early part of the game forced them to enter the second half chasing the game. At some point, Indy’s finishing touch is going to start providing some early goals, allowing Indy to turn all their possession into something positive and start to turn the screws on their opponents. Right? Indy has seen high volume scorer after high volume scorer come thru Indy without being able to produce at the same rate, but that’s not going to happen this year, right? Right? Through four league games, Indy has scored 1 goal from the run of play, despite out-possessing their opponents by an average of 70% to 30%, being more accurate in their passing by 20 percentage points, outshooting by a margin of 32 to 22, and having a +40 advantage in crosses.

At times tonight, it felt like guys were looking for perfect windows to shoot instead of putting the ball on target to force a save or get a rebound. In theory, the pieces are there for this team to score a ton of goals this season. In practice, they’re not getting it done yet.

Indy head to Orange County next weekend who will be trying to get their first win of the season, having gone 0W-3D-2L so far in their 2023 campaign. Indy will be looking to show that they can do something with all of their possession. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

This feels like kind of a cop-out, but I'm going to give the GBGB to Vazquez and Guenzatti simply for the 300 minutes of game action they put on their bodies this week.  

Additional Photos (Don Thompson Photography)

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