Sunday, May 28, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City FC - 10.11


- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,532
- Final Score: 1-0 L

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

- Substitution: Jerome 6’ (Boudadi – INJURY); Molina 68’ (Rissi); Robledo 80‘ (Lindley); Tejada 80‘ (Guenzatti)

- Unused: Trilk

- Scoring Summary:
LOU – Harris 20’ (assist Serrano)

- Bookings:
IND – Lindley 11’ (Yellow)
IND – Vazquez 29’ (Yellow)
IND – BENCH 52’ (Yellow)
IND – Jerome 77’ (Yellow)
IND – Martinez 81’ (Yellow)
LOU – Pouwels 90’+3’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Indy’s Eleven’s 11th league game of the season was an important one to the team and the fans, with LIPAFC dominating the discussion from fans, and trying to build on last week’s success against Colorado Springs for the team. With the top of the Eastern Conference table trying to pull away from the rest of the conference, it was vital for Indy to get points out of the game to stay in the playoff race now that they have worked themselves back into that position with a 2W-1D-1L record in the last four games. However, to say that Indy has figured things out would be incorrect, as it just takes a look at their results timeline to see that this season has been an up-and-down affair. 

Louisville came into the game after a mid-week home loss to Tulsa, despite leading at halftime. Louisville also came to town with some of Indy Eleven fans’ favorite former players in tow. Tyler Gibson started the game despite being listed as “questionable” in the Louisville match notes, and Dylan Mares came off the bench in the 77th minute. I would love to have either of these guys back on the roster, but for the 90-minutes of this game, they’re just like any other opponent and I hoped they were going to head home unhappy. Unfortunately for Indy fans, that’s not what happened, and our former players made the trek back down I-65 with three points and the first step in claiming the Barrel (TM).

Indy’s short bench continues to limit Coach Lowry’s options with both Rebellon and Dambrot out with injuries, and King picking up a knock ahead of the game. With just 4 available field player subs available, it’s fortunate that Louisville had fewer days rest between games than Indy. I understand the logic behind quality over quantity, but it’s inherent that the players stay healthy to make that work. Otherwise, you continue to see what Indy is facing this year, which is limited substitutions, and forcing the majority of the starting lineup to go the full 90 minutes. When you’re facing a team like Louisville that has quantity AND quality, you’re really forcing a lot out of the team. Compound the injuries coming into the game with the fact that Boudadi grabbed his shoulder after a tackle within the first minute (see above photo...seems innocuous enough), forcing an extremely early substitution. Indy’s depth issue was exacerbated, and completely ruined the anticipated substitution pattern. Coach Lowry and the training staff are holding this team together with bailing wire and duct tape, trying to put guys in positions to get results. It's a good thing many of these guys are veterans, and talented enough players to do it, but there is still an aspect of "round hole, square peg," right now with some of the guys. Lowry has succumbed to a back 5 the last two games just to be able to solidify the defense and not give away goals.

However, just before the 20th minute mark, Louisville put together a couple of opportunities, that eventually lead to a goal by Harris on a corner kick from Serrano. Indy, once again, found themselves behind early and chasing the game. Against Louisville, that is not a good place to be, despite having 70 minutes to try and get back into the game. The injuries along the backline meant that, in essence, Indy fielded 4 centerbacks, affecting how Indy attacked the Louisville defense. Instead of having King or Boudadi or Dambrot attacking up the wings to put pressure on Louisville’s back three, Indy resorted to more long balls over the top of Louisville's defense to try and get Martinez, Guenzatti, or Asante onto the ball, or get opportunities on goal through set pieces. That method of attack has an inherent assumption that you’re going to be able to outrun the defender, time your run better than their offside step, or have an error by the defenders. That’s a difficult assumption with a team like Louisville, but they did have a few uncharacteristic miscues.

Indy came out of the halftime locker room and immediately put a shot on goal in the 48th minute from a Guenzatti header from a Blake cross. The ball had to be parried over the goal by Semmle, and the resulting corner kick was stopped nearly as soon as it began due to a called foul. The next 15 minutes was spent with both teams getting opportunities, but moderately tilted towards Indy. Molina’s substitution in the 68th minute created another level of creativity as he looked to attack Louisville’s backline every chance he could get.

Louisville didn't outright park the bus the last 20 to 30 minutes, but with a quick turnaround from Wednesday's game against Tulsa and an early lead in this game, they were more comfortable staying behind the ball with 9 guys and letting Harris chase balls between Indy's defenders to slow down Indy's attack.  I often don't know what to expect from Coach in the post-game interviews. I have waited for Coach to return to the field for the post-game interview after a loss, only to leave the stadium without getting any kind of reaction from him. He was pumped after this loss. He walked up, ready to talk, ready to express how much he was exciting about the way the team played:
"They go home with the three points, but our performance was superb. That's the reality. With not a single fullback available, Younes goes off after three minutes, Jack playing out here coming inside. The tactical intelligence was superb. Gustavo playing left wingback, doing the best he could. I'm so proud of the guys and if anybody left the stadium, and not feeling proud of that then I want to speak to them because that performance was superb, against a really good team. They didn't get out of their half in the second half." 

I agree that the effort was there, particularly given the early injury and the adjustments in personnel that have been made as a result of the other injuries, but Louisville didn't have to take unnecessary risks and they didn't. Louisville got an early lead, and let Indy chase the game; something they haven't been very good at doing this season. Indy gave themselves opportunities to get a point (or more) out of the game, but the spot that is still missing from the squad is a true number 10; a guy who can, and will, turn and attack the defense to set up easier shooting lanes for the other Indy players. Coach agreed with that sentiment after the game, while praising the effort from Molina, who was a massive attacking spark at the end of the game. 
"We don't have many guys that can go 1v1, that can create things. Something I've said for awhile about this group. It's one of the reasons I changed the system because I don't feel like we have a #10 in the middle that can turn and beat players. I'm not saying he's a #10, but he's a guy that can go 1v1, at wide with his left foot, gets the crowd on their feet. He's exciting. He's got quality. He's a great sub to have right now. He's got to still grow and understand the defensive side of the game, but I think we saw tonight that he's an asset to this group."

For his part, Molina was ready to do exactly what the coaching staff wanted him to do, "first and foremost, you have to take what the coach gives you and what he wants. That's something they told me, to go at them, go 1v1, get services into the box. ... I love to dribble, that's always been me. I'm never going to go away from that."

With a 1/3 of the season in the books, Indy still has a high ceiling, but not if they can't keep guys healthy, or don't bring in some other guys to fill the gaps that keep growing as guys succumb to injury week after week. Indy's quality over quantity approach to the season has forced Lowry to also throw out his preferred 4-4-2 diamond arrangement using players he selected to play it. Indy selected great players to fit the system (with the aforementioned lack of a true #10), but are now having to find out if those players are great positional players, or great players. From Coach's perspective, with a tactical adjustment, and an increase in effort from his players, "what I saw tonight gives me hope and I can roll with that."

"They've got a great squad. I mean, they have 22, 23 top players now. That's where we need to be. Unfortunately, we don't even have 18. That's the difference in the clubs. Right there. So they're able to managed 2 game, 3 game weeks. The subs they bring in are experienced players. I thought my subs were great, but you have two 20-year olds on the bench. ... But that performance against them, I'll take that every day of the week."

Indy return to action at conference leading Charleston on a rare Friday night contest. With both the men's and women's teams playing on Friday night, at the same time, fans will try to spread their attention to both squads. Fans attending the women's game at Grand Park will be keeping one eye on their phones to keep track of what is going on at the men's game, and the fans watching at home are going to want to double monitor the evening's activities. With the current injury bug, we'll see if there will be a new face announced this week for the Boys. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
When a player goes down with an injury within 90 seconds of the starting whistle, and an already depleted bench due to other injuries, guys have to step up and play outside of their normal roles, and definitely outside their projected role coming into the season. To hold a team like Louisville to a single goal, from a set piece, means that guys all over the field put in a solid shift. However, the guy that seemed to keep standing out for me was Quinn. He seemed to be all over the place, making good decisions, with some timely defensive interventions. So while I thought about giving the GBGB to Jerome for his solid effort in an emergency near-starter role, Quinn was the player who kept standing out to me. 

Additional Photos (Don Thompson Photography)


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Kings Hammer - 02.03


- Opponent: Kings Hammer
- Location: Corcoran Field
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Edwards, Sexton, Watson, Bahr, Chatterton, Hershfelt, Rogers (C), Kraszula, Soderstrom, K., Chester, Lindley

- Substitution: Whitsett 45' (Kraszula); Kugler 62' (Sexton); Vanegas 72' (Lindley); Dewey, R. 72' (Chatterton); Houweling 78' (Chester); Hunt 78' (Soderstrom, K.)

- Unused: Reason

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Vanegas 76’ (unassisted)

- Bookings:

- Referee: ?
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Thanks to the camera microphone being able to capture every command, adjustment, and exasperation that came from the two coaches on the sideline (something Indy fans hope will be an impossibility when Indy Eleven play their home opener on June 2nd at Grand Park), the discussion of this game is going to be intermingled with the coach's commentary.
Several of Indy's players are familiar with the Xavier field, either because they played their home games there (Bahr, Dewey, R., Dewey, S, and Rogers) or they played away games there as part of the Big East conference. When you're playing your third straight road game to start the season, it's a nice benefit to have the game on a field that is familiar to the players, which was not the case for the St. Charles and Lexington games. 

"Addy, Addy, Addy!" and Watson sent a cross-field ball to Chester with space to run at the goal.

Soderstrom off the crossbar in the 4th minute from just outside the 18-yard box. This will be a reoccurring theme in this game...

"1v1, 1v1!" at Soderstrom to tell her she could turn and take on her defender.

"We have to find the space that Cassidy is creating!"

"Keep working Blue, we'll get it!"

"Organize early!" after the ball went out for a deep Kings Hammer throw-in.

Indy was a step faster in their running and speed of thought. Kings Hammer coach kept shouting "connect the next pass," just trying to hold some kind of possession, but Indy had the Kings Hammer defenders chasing shadows for most of the first half. 

"Find the 2nd runner, not the 1st runner!"

Last year's #23 was Robyn McCarthy, an All League defender. This year's #23 is Trinity Watson, and in the first two games she has played for Indy Eleven this season, she has been filling McCarthy's shoes nicely. She's making good decisions as the right CB, is controlling her area perfectly, and can put a cross-field pass on a dime. Reminds me a lot like Robyn.

Not long after a drop ball restart in the 28th minute because a ball was pinged off the referee, Lindley received a pass from Soderstrom and took a one-time shot that pinged off the post. A 40th minute low cross from Hershfelt ran across the goal mouth, through a mass of humanity, and the shot on goal from Lindley was blocked. At this point, Indy was starting to feel like there was an imaginary lid or force field on the Kings Hammer goal. 

"We're exposed if we lose it!"

"Give the ball up!" directed at Bahr who carried the ball a long way up the field and then took an ill-advised long distance shot that went harmlessly wide.

The first half of this game looked like the men's first team. I don't know what the final possession numbers were for the half, but it had to be pushing the 80/20 ratio that we saw from the men earlier this year against Las Vegas. Kings Hammer stayed compact, had timely defensive interventions, and managed to keep Indy off the board allowing them to go into the locker room with a nil-nil scoreline despite never really threatening Edwards. I felt like Hershfelt was not as decisive in her decisions in the first half as she was in the game against Lexington. She looked like she wanted to set up her teammates, but she had opportunities to take the ball herself if she went quickly. When she didn't, the Kings Hammer defenders stepped to her, forcing the ball backwards. 

Kings Hammer came out of the halftime locker room more aggressive, in both their defending and their movements going forward. Fortunately, Indy weathered the early additional pressure, in part because the Kings Hammer forwards had trouble getting off good shots.

"C'mon, we're too complacent!"

"It's not going to come to you. Let's make something happen!"

"Guys! Discipline!"

"Our movement has to be proactive! We're waiting for the ball to come to us!"

"We're getting too predictable!"

At this point in the game (58th minute), this looked like two different teams than the ones from the first half. Indy looked timid and weren't the aggressors to the ball, while Kings Hammer looked the complete opposite of those characteristics. Whatever the possession was in the first half, it wasn't a full 180 in the early part of the second half, but it was much much closer to even. It's like Indy came out of the locker room forgetting that they were the better players and team.

ANOTHER ball off the crossbar in the 62nd minute.

"Keep playing Blue! C'mon girls!"

"Nooooooo..." That one actually turned out okay, but my initial feeling was the same as Coach's assessment of the pass.

Goal by Vanegas in the 76th minute by just being in the right place in the box and losing her defender. Venegas came on with a lot of energy and was rewarded by getting in front of her defender to give her a chance at the ball after the initial shot was deflected. The goal had been coming and was deserved by how many shots found the crossbar or post, but it was still good to see that Kings Hammer hadn't put a hex on the goals, or at least that Indy had found a crack in that hex.

"Madisyn, play your position!"

ANOTHER ball off the crossbar in the 84th minute.

"You guys need to make the goal bigger."

"We're in stoppage time. Make 'em play facing their own goal!"

Indy were unfortunate to not have this game be a blowout just like the others with the number of balls that hit the crossbar and posts, but a win on the road after Sunday-Wednesday games was deserved. As I stated after the first game, this division has the appearance that it could come down to the two games between Indy and Racing Louisville. If the two teams split the series, then goal differential could come into play, and Indy would love to have seen the woodwork be kinder today. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.

The Girls in Blue need to take the win and get on the bus knowing they're still leading the division and that their next game will FINALLY be in front of the home fans in their version of LIPAFC. Coack Dolinsky will probably have some words about shaking off the woodwork issues, but that they need to not relax after halftime like they did today. Then he'll have them ready to play Louisville in an environment where he shouldn't be able to make as many corrections as he did tonight because the BYB are in full voice behind him.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

Vanegas entered the match excited and full of energy. She listened to what Coach Dolinsky wanted from her, and she was rewarded for that effort with a goal, making her Indy's third multi-goal goal scorer. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Lexington SC - 02.02


- Opponent: Lexington SC
- Location: Toyota Stadium
- Attendance: -
- Final Score: 3-0 W

- Starting XI: Reason, Kugler, Watson, Bahr, Chatterton, Dewey, S., Rogers (C), Hershfelt, Chester, Soderstrom, K., Whitsett

- Substitution: Kraszula 62' (Dewey), Lacognata 62' (Chester), Sexton 62' (Chatterton); Dean 72' (Soderstom), Kevdzija 72' (Hershfelt), Matsuhisa 72' (Whitsett)

- Unused: Edwards

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Dewey, S. 17’ (unassisted)
IND - Whitesett 23' (assist Dewey, S.)
IND - Chester 43' (seems to be officially as unassisted, but I would have given the assist to Chatterton)

- Bookings:

- Referee: Chad Collins
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

When you go undefeated last season and start season #2 with an 8-nil thrashing of St. Charles, expectations start to become elevated. However, when your second opponent of the season is a new club that has split their first two games with a win and a loss, against Kings Hammer and Racing Louisville, respectively, it's difficult to know exactly what to expect. Is another dominant performance to be expected and another undefeated season, or should fans temper their expectations?

Indy came out and struggled in the beginning stages to impose themselves, with Lexington controlling the possession early. Then Indy's pressure, and direct balls into the midfielders and forwards began to settle the game for Indy. Indy's leading scorers in Sam Dewey and Whitsett added to their totals within the first 25 minutes and the tone of the game changed. After Dewey's goal in the 17th minute, Indy's pressure stifled Lexington's attack until Whitsett doubled the lead.

Once Indy had the two-goal lead, they were able to be extremely patient in their build-up and limited Lexington to minimal possession in dangerous areas. As the half drew to a close, Lexington had a well-timed pass to beat the offside trap when Chatterton stepped forward, but the shot was too close to Reason who collected it without allowing a rebound. A minute later and Indy put Lexington further into a hole when Chester received a ball on the left from Chatterton, took a few dribbles, pushed the ball inside to her right foot and sent a ball up and over Josephson into the upper 90. That's how the teams entered the halftime locker room. Indy up by three goals, and could have scored a couple more, including a couple from Soderstrom that I'm sure she wishes she had done better.

After the break, the game settled into the same as it had right before halftime, with Indy content to possess when possible, periodically send balls over the top to Soderstrom, Whitsett, or Chester, and preventing Lexington from doing anything within Indy's defensive third. Indy was a little less clinical in their finishing in the second half than they were in the first, but with a comfortable lead and control of the game, Indy didn't have to force anything. To be fair, Lexington's backline did a better job in the second half of keeping Indy's forwards in front of them more and not allowing the over-the-top balls that Indy feasted upon in the first half. 

As with the game against St. Charles, Indy probably left some goals on the table, but it's hard to find much fault in a 3-nil win. If I had to nit-pick, I would say that Indy is still giving the ball away unnecessarily. However, their work rate and their team defense swarmed back around the ball, preventing Lexington from doing much with the ball when Indy did make the mistakes.

As important as the win, Coach Dolinsky was able to use his full complement of subs, knowing that there's a game coming up on Wednesday against Kings Hammer. The game on Wednesday will be Indy's final away game before the full voice of the BYB gets to be heard in a proper broadcast with ISC and Rakestraw on June 2nd against Racing Louisville. While this broadcast was much better than the one for the game against St. Charles, the replays took a little long and covered the action that had resumed quickly. Like their team, they'll figure out how to do that more efficiently.

Temper expectations? No, I don't think so.  

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I want to give the GBGB to the duo of Rogers and Hershfelt, who consistently clogged the middle during Lexington's attack, while also providing great distribution on the offensive side of things. Indy's offense starts with the team defense, and Rogers and Hershfelt were key in that role today.

Indy Eleven vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks - 10.10


- Opponent: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,688
- Final Score: 1-0 W

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

- Substitution: Vazquez 19’ (Rebellon - INJURY); Asante 72’ (Guenzatti); Tejada 82’(Martinez)

- Unused: Trilk, Jerome, Molina, Robledo

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Rebellon 16' (assist Guenzatti)

- Bookings:
IND - Rissi 22’ (Yellow)
IND - Blake 34’ (Yellow)
COS - Williams 52’ (Yellow)
COS - Lacroix 59’(Yellow)
Indy Bench 81’ (Yellow)
IND - Martinez 82’ (Yellow)
IND - Diz Pe 88’ (Yellow)
COS - Aegren 88’ (Yellow)
COS- Mahoney 90’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Calin Radosav
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

This game was not short on connections between the two teams. Lindley played for Colorado Springs last year, and obviously Macca King started his season there this season following his time there last season. In the trade to get King back to Indy, Fjeldberg found his way to the Centennial State. Yet, that’s not where the connections end. Colorado Springs’ roster also includes Patrick Seagrist and Duke Lacroix, both of whom started in this game on the left side. 

Indy came into the game after a rough 3-1 loss against Sacramento where they conceded two goals inside of 8-minutes before pulling one back in the 51st minute through Dambrot, only to concede a third in the dying minutes of the game. Russell Cicerone scored all three goals Sacramento, giving Indy their first multi-goal scorer opponent in spectacular fashion. It was also the 9th time this season that Indy allowed the other team to score first. A fact that Coach Lowry emphatically imparted on the players this week in training was not acceptable.

With Dambrot out due to an injury (and may be out for a month), Lowry made some changes to the back line, putting both Rissi and King into the starting lineup. Martinez also returned to the starting lineup after not competing last week against Sacramento due to contractual agreements. Apparently, King’s trade didn’t have that same exclusion in the agreement to get him here. More on King later. 

The last time these two teams played was a 7-goal affair with Indy coming out on the short side of the 4 to 3 goal scoreline. Indy fans hoped that whatever happened in this game, last year’s winless streak that resulted after Indy’s loss in Colorado Spring isn’t a reoccurring trend post Colorado. 

In the beginning stages of the game, Indy made a concerted effort to get balls over the COS backline to Martinez. It’s been awhile since Lacroix has played for Indy, but everything I've seen from him in the games I've watched in his time in Sacramento and now in Colorado, he still has the speed to stay with Martinez, and nothing substantial resulted from the balls over the top. When I asked Coach about whether there was anything the Indy staff saw in the COS video to think that play would be available to them, he indicated, "it wasn't a Lacroix thing, he's their fastest player. We need to start by putting them under pressure. They're a team that presses. If we try to play, they're going to win it. They're going to win the ball high up, and we'll go down 1-zero again. It was completely unacceptable tonight to go 1-zero. I couldn't have cared less if we won the game tonight, it was about not going down 1-zero. ... If they give you space in the back, let's put it in the space in the back." 

One of those over-the-top balls went to Boudadi, who put the ball into the box in a place where Guenzatti was able to get to it before laying off a perfectly weighted ball to an on-rushing Rebellon. Bryam then put it over Herrera’s outstretched hands into the far corner of the goal, giving Indy an early lead; a nice flip of script from the rest of this season. Indy also lost the possession battle, further changing this season's script. This game showed that Coach Lowry didn't think he could play his style of play last year because of the players. This year he has the players that he thinks can play that style, but they're not coming together the way he hoped, and had to adjust how the team played. Again, more on that in a minute. Unfortunately, the goal celebration was short-lived as Rebellon was knocked to the ground during his shot, and Lindley immediately, and correctly, began signaling to the bench that Rebellon was done. Health has been a reoccurring issue with Rebellon during his time in Indy, so hopefully this isn’t as serious as his immediate departure would imply.

Importantly for the team, Rebellon’s goal finally gave Indy a game where they weren’t playing behind. While the goal was early in the game, the combined affect of the shuffling of the backline and being able to play with a lead pushed Indy into what resembled a back 5 more often than normal. Coach Lowry even admitted that the team was setup in a 5-3-2 formation to give the defenders more help. Too many times this season, the support from the back 4 hasn't been enough, and Coach Lowry's adamant statement of not conceding the first goal forced him to adjust the style of play that he wants from this team. Frankly, it's nice to see him make the adjustment, realizing that at this point in the season, for whatever reason, the team can't rely on the 4-4-2 tactic. The adjustment affected the balls that COS was also sending over the top as it clogged the space between the midfielders and Oettl. The frenetic pace that was prevalent during start of the game slowed down considerably after the goal. Despite a push by COS at the end of the half, Indy held COS at bay to go into the halftime locker room with a 1-nil lead.

Indy started the second half on fire, forcing two shots and two spectacular saves in the first 2 minutes. Indy quadrupled the number of corners in the first 3 minutes than they had the entire first half. The constant pressure, ultimately, didn’t amount to a goal, but it was nice to see Indy on the front foot and taking chances on goal. 

Guenzatti missed a shot in the 54th minute in a 1v1 situation with Herrera that found the wrong side of the post and went out for a goal kick. It’s a shot that you expect him to finish, and are surprised when it doesn’t. After the miss, COS increased their pressure and spent some time in Indy’s defensive third looking to equalize. 

The game had been physical beforehand, but the physicality seemed to take another step up after the miss, with guys from both teams laying on the field gripping their ankles, knees, or head on a regular basis. All the injuries would eventually mean a second half stoppage time amount of 8 minutes. The physicality reached its peak in the 86th minute when all hell broke loose as Diz Pe was grabbed around the neck, then retaliated, then others retaliated. There were guys being tackled to the field, as guys attempted to separate the scrum that formed between the players. Amazingly, no red was issued on the field, but players from both teams received yellow cards. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the league office issues some post-game suspensions for both teams. If you include the yellow that was presented to the Indy bench, referee Calin Radosav showed a yellow card 9 times. Yet despite the number and the early issuance of the cards, it never really felt like Radosav had control of this game.

Ultimately, Coach Lowry's tactical changes, and the fire he lit under the players during the week in training led to a hard-fought 1-nil victory. The effort from the guys was up a notch from recent games, and they were rewarded for that effort with a victory, despite losing the possession and shots battles. In this league, take the wins where you can and move yourself up the table. This win pushed Indy back into a playoff position, with perennial league contender Louisville headed to Indy next week in this year's first installment of the LIPAFC. Louisville had the weekend off, but will be headed to Indy after hosting a midweek game against Tulsa. Hopefully the additional rest for Indy will help. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I thought about giving this to Rebellon for the pure fact that his goal put the team ahead, and did it early. I have a hard time, though, giving the GBGB for 16 minutes of play. So I wanted to give it to another player. Sometimes, giving this award has nothing to do with what the stats tell me. Tonight that is the case. While his stats weren't eye-popping, I'm giving the GBGB to Macca King. The defense just seemed to take on a different level of toughness with him in the lineup. Guys worked harder today, but Macca just stood out to me as a piece that was not in Indy a week ago, that personified what this team needed to be able to salt out this win. I knew the answer when I asked the question about Macca because of his time in Indy and then his time with Coach Lowry in El Paso, but I wanted to hear Coach Lowry give me the response in his own words,

"He's a winner. Macca King will do whatever it takes to win. If that means screaming at a teammate, getting in a teammates' face, if that's screaming at a referee, if that's getting a yellow card, that wins games. We need more players like him on the field. [When] we get a few more, we'll be a championship winning team. That's the reality of it. We're great footballers. It's the USL. It's about toughing things out. It's about hanging on. It's about defending crosses, blocking shots. That's football. Macca's willing to do that. Want to get a couple more like him, and then we'll be a really, REALLY, really good team."

Additional Photos (Don Thompson Photography)


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A Cemetery and A Stadium - A Brief History of the Eleven Park site

Keystone/Indy Eleven - Eleven Park (River View)
At some point this month, Indy Eleven plans to have a groundbreaking ceremony as they begin the process of converting the existing Diamond Chain Company facility into what will become Eleven Park, complete with a 20,000 seat stadium, apartments, hotel, offices, retail & restaurants, public parking, and even a 4,000 seat music venue. At least that's the current plan. Having sat through more meetings recently than I care to think about where my engineering projects have been further and further reduced due to the current rising costs and the long lead times of construction materials, what Eleven Park actually looks like is something that I look at with intense curiosity. Assuming all the components of their proposed design goes forward as planned, Indy Eleven and Keystone still have a massive undertaking in front of them before fans will ever sit in the stands to cheer on the Boys and Girls in Blue.

Once the ceremonial golden shovels and the television cameras have left the site after the groundbreaking, the first major work that the public will be able to see taking place in the progress of the development will be the demolition of the existing Diamond Chain factory and buildings. I doubt that will be via implosion, but given what is under Diamond Chain, Keystone may want as much time as possible and, as a result, decide to bring the facility down as quickly as possible. Assuming they bring the buildings down in a more controlled, less explosive, manner, there's still a plethora of unknowns underneath that building.

The Diamond Chain factory has been around for more than 100 years and the environmental rules over those years have not always been the strictest. So the possibility is immense that when demolition starts and excavators starting digging, things are going to delay this project. The only question in my mind is "how long will the delays persist?" It's been a factory for 100 years. There are going to be chemicals in the ground. How much remediation is going to be required before Keystone and Indy Eleven can start building on the ground? Before the factory was there, there was another structure that I'm going to talk about in a minute, but before that structure, the entire site was Greenlawn Cemetery. 

1866 Warner Map - Library of Congress
Let me say that again for the people in the back or those that haven't been paying attention lately. 

The Diamond Chain site was a cemetery.  In fact, it was Indianapolis' first public cemetery (1).

"Greenlawn was the first public cemetery in Indianapolis. Established in 1821 near the White River and present-day Kentucky Avenue, many of the earliest residents of the city were buried here. As the main city cemetery, Greenlawn served as the final resting place for everyone from those buried at public expense to prestigious Hoosiers Indiana Governor James Whitcomb and early settler Matthias Nowland."

It wasn't just for the City's residents as Greenlawn Cemetery (2):

"Reached from the city by Kentucky Avenue the cemetery and its monuments honored Alexander Ralston, town planner and designer of Indianapolis, Noah Noble and James Whitcomb, both Governors and US Senators, Caleb Blood Smith, US Representative, Secretary of the Interior and US District Judge, Union war dead from the Civil War, as well as receiving for burial Confederate POWs who died at Camp Morton of disease or the lingering effects of wounds suffered in battle." 

And those descriptions still haven't mentioned the area of the site where some people believe "that the “Colored Cemetery” at Greenlawn Cemetery is the largest burial site of African Americans in the state" (3), and that likely wasn't given the same level of relocation of the dead as other portions of the site. As development occurred, and the cemetery fell into disarray, many of the "families began to exhume and re-bury the bodies of early pioneers, and other citizens to Floral Park, Holy Cross and Crown Hill Cemeteries beginning in 1866 when the War Department relocated 700 union war dead." (2) Many believe that the "Colored Cemetery" wasn't given the same level of respect and that remains, well, remain on the site. 

So we've touched on potential environmental issues, and social issues of how to properly handle the deceased that have been found relatively recently in Diamond Chain expansion projects, and I'm not the proper person to be talking about all of that. However, it doesn't take much effort to find really good sources of information to find out about the Greenlawn Cemetery/Diamond Chain site.

Including a YouTube video titled, "What Lies Beneath Diamond Chain?" (4) Very on-the-nose, right? The video was a webinar presented by Indiana Landmarks, and was presented by DeeDee Davis, a visual resources specialist for the Herron Art Library.

"...but that's not the end of the story with this site. Diamond Chain is relocating soon and the site will likely be changing from industrial to commercial or residential and any activity here will likely uncover those who didn't relocate. So we can look forward to this with our own slightly morbid curiosity, but it's bound to uncover some stories and interesting lives of ordinary folks who called Indianapolis home. So keep an eye on this spot."

While all the cemetery information is important and interesting and sent me into a internet rabbit hole to find out more (see above), Ms. Davis pointed out something a little earlier in the webinar (direct link in the video) that is relevant to this website.

There was a stadium on the site between its cemetery function and its supplying of chains function.

That's right, Eleven Park won't be the first stadium to grace the site. Nor will it be its largest (at least by capacity).

Screen Capture from Indiana Landmarks Webinar

"Now after the removals from the Peck Burial ground, the site was sold to Diamond Chain in 1913 and held as investment property. The section that was the new burial ground or the Union Cemetery was dated to the first Presbyterian Church. After the first of the original owners died, the first Presbyterian Church then donated the ground to the city for use as a park, and then the city sold it to developers to build a baseball park and grandstand for the newly formed Federal League. That's right, we have a baseball diamond being built on top of a graveyard. Construction was started in January of 1914. ... Unlike were completed at the burial ground north of it, there is no mention in the papers of workers uncovering any bodies in this section, but they did have a contest for a nickname for this new team. I like that cemetery names were barred, but people suggested them anyway. ... In the end, they were known as the Hoosier Federals or the Hoo Feds or the Greenlawn Feds. The park was known as Federal League Park or Greenlawn Park and the first game was in April of 1914."

That's right folks. If Ersal Ozdemir, Keystone, and Indy Eleven open Eleven Park for the start of the 2025 season as planned (see all above for why that could be optimistic), that game could take place in April of 2025. Or 111 years after the site was first used for a sports stadium. 

Enter internet stadium rabbit hole. 

While Ms. Davis' information is going to turn up again later, the absolute best information that I found on Federal League Park was an article I found written by the Society of American Baseball Research. (5)

Federal League Park in Indianapolis, looking in from the right-field fence.
(Indianapolis News, January 27, 1917)
(Photo from the Society of American Baseball Research article)

Seriously, the amount of research that went into the article was impressive, to the point where I wondered if they were just fabricating facts. There are also some interesting facts about the Hoo Feds' concurrent time in Indianapolis with the Indianapolis Indians. I highly recommend the article for Indy sports fans and/or fans of Indianapolis. I have included portions of the article here, with emphasis added at times.

"This is the story of the final major-league club to call Indianapolis home — the Deadball Era Indianapolis Hoosiers of the Federal League.

Unlike its predecessors, this edition of the Hoosiers was an unqualified success on the field, capturing the Federal League pennant in the circuit’s inaugural campaign as an independent minor league in 1913. And when the outlaw Federals declared themselves a major league the following year, the Hoosiers repeated as league best."

It's good to know that building a stadium on a former cemetery didn't curse the team to failure. Hopefully, the same will be said when Indy Eleven begin playing in Eleven Park over that same former cemetery ground. Unless, of course, the ghosts didn't mind baseball, but know nothing about the beautiful game and take offense to the sport of soccer. However, the team and the stadium were short-lived, as the team was forced to sell to an investor, due to poor attendance, who promptly moved the franchise to Newark, New Jersey. The article describes the construction between October 1914 and opening day 1915, as well as the championship winning season.

"As the league’s October 31 ballpark deadline approached, club officials announced the location of the Hoosiers’ new playing grounds: a swath of Greenlawn Cemetery, a venerable burial ground situated in downtown Indianapolis. For the short term, however, the cemetery property was not bought outright. Rather, the property was leased “with privilege to purchase” for five years at $4,200 annually. Nor was the new ballpark to be a club asset. Rather, club shareholders were given a five-year option to purchase the structure for $76,000.

Under the direction of contractor Lynn B. Millikan, himself a member of the Hoosiers board of directors and a substantial club investor, construction of Federal League Park commenced at a furious pace. Grandstand construction costs were estimated at $75,000, and total ballpark expenditures would eventually creep over the $100,000 mark [Editor's note, this would translate to a $3.1M facility in today's dollars based upon an online Consumer Price Index inflation calculator, which "represents changes in the prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households." I'm assuming for this article that the construction costs would be similar.].


More vexing was the slowdown in delivery of needed building material occasioned by labor problems at a Bethlehem Steel Company plant. Notwithstanding construction snags, by late April the Indianapolis Hoosiers had a modern single-tier, state-of-the-art concrete-and-steel ballpark to call home. The question then became how many of Federal League Park’s almost 23,000 seats the Indianapolis Hoosiers would be able to fill. 

On April 23, 1914, major-league baseball returned to Indianapolis for the first time in 25 years. Preceding the game was a half-mile-long parade through downtown to the ballpark, complete with marching bands and festooned automobiles carrying local dignitaries and officials from the two opposing ballclubs. Upon arrival, a crowd of about 18,000 paid their way into Federal League Park to see the Hoosiers face the St. Louis Terriers. Following a welcoming speech by club President Krause, Governor Ralston took the mound to throw a ceremonial first pitch — high and outside — to Mayor Bell.

Those in attendance then settled down to witness a scoreless pitching duel between Hoosiers ace Cy Falkenberg and Terriers left-hander Hank Keupper through eight innings. A final-inning Terriers rally proved the difference in a 3-0 St. Louis victory that disappointed hometown fans, but otherwise did little to detract from the success of the ballpark opening.


In the main, the 1914 season was déjà vu for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. As in the year before, the club enjoyed success on the playing field but insufficient patronage at the ballpark. Complete and reliable attendance figures do not exist for the Federal League. But for the 15 specific Indianapolis home dates for which Retrosheet provides attendance numbers, the Hoosiers lured an average crowd of 2,677 to their 23,000-seat ballpark. This draw made the club unable to meet expenses as the season progressed.


For the time being, the club’s financial turmoil was not publicized. And it did not subvert the quality of Hoosiers performance on the diamond. Paced by an MVP-like season by Benny Kauff (who in addition to his league-leading .370 batting average paced the circuit in seven other offensive categories) and standout pitching by 25-game winner Cy Falkenberg, Indianapolis went 88-65 (.575) and captured the maiden flag of the Federals as a major league.

Hoosiers brass delighted in the championship, hosting a late-September celebration at Federal League Park complete with pregame parade and floral tributes presented to the players. Pennant-winning manager Bill Phillips was bestowed with a large silver loving cup. The festive occasion, however, soon gave way to harsh financial realities. Unbeknownst to the crowd, the continued existence of the Indianapolis Hoosiers was in jeopardy."

Success on the field, financial ruin for the owners. I think Indy Eleven fans would love to see the first, but will hope for a more sustainable, and long-lasting presence of Indy Eleven in Indianapolis. 

Screen Capture from Indiana Landmarks Webinar
The webinar from Ms. Davis also included a list of nicknames for the team that were submitted to The Star by the residents of Indianapolis before the team officially became known as the Indianapolis Hoosiers. The list is shown in the screen capture to the right, but I have included the full list below:

  • Shawnees...................A. A. Hoffman
  • Warriors...................T. M. VanDerVere
  • Boosters...................Lawrence Lafforge
  • Hoosier Cemeteries...................Maurice Selpo
  • Graveyard Feds...................Elmer Poehler
  • Auto Dodgers...................J. J. Grinsteiner
  • Literary Lads...................John G. Selfres
  • Greenlawns...................J. C. Shultz
  • Undertakers...................C. E. Owen
  • The Racers...................M. D. Rinker
  • Capitols...................Fred Schnetser
  • Diamond Edge...................C. E. White
  • Capitols...................J. L. Booth
  • Bears...................P. O. Decker
  • Boosters...................R. M. Spaan
  • Grave Diggers...................T. A. Deckert
  • The Braves...................W. J. Pray
  • Speedways...................McFarland Berham
  • Shepherds...................D. M. Outland
  • Kosher Feds...................Bob Stolkin
  • Black Sox...................Walter Raanch
  • Indianapolis Warriors...................Louis Gemmer
  • White Caps...................O. J. Boulders
  • Kaskets...................W. S. Jones
  • Biers...................R. B. Brown
  • Tangoes...................Issy Brill

I think we can all agree that some of those should never be used (I hope I'm wrong in my fear of "Kaskets" being spelled that way due to a certain organization). While the stadium development continues to be called Eleven Park, with the stadium as the anchor, it will undoubtedly be called something different once naming rights have been acquired. Lilly Park? Yet, wouldn't it be a kind of interesting homage to the original stadium to have fans sitting in the Greenlawns section or the Federals section? Or how about a new supporters group called the Undertaker Ultras? 

Screen Capture from History Marker Database
Whatever happens, I think it's in the best interest of Ozdemir, Keystone, and Indy Eleven to incorporate some of the history of the site, from its beginnings as the City's first cemetery (including all of its inhabitants from the African-American to the Union soldiers) to its 100-year history as a chain manufacturer. As it stands, there are existing historical markers for both the cemetery and the stadium (6) located across the river. Based on the Street View image, both have seen better days. I think it would be nice if both of those markers (and maybe even the third one that is with them), get recreated at (or relocated to) the Eleven Park site. 

Indy Eleven is founded on the history of the state and the Indiana Eleventh Regiment led by Lew Wallace. Incorporating the old markers, and the history of the site where the stadium, hotel, offices, apartments, music venue, etc. will reside will help ensure that the history is not lost.

Screen Capture from History Marker Database

Monday, May 15, 2023

The (Mini) Barrel - Auction for Charity

Last year, the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (LIPAFC) took another step in its lore when Matt (@LouCitySting) took the time to physically create a trophy for the competition that had just been an idea between supporters. I think it is now considered an "official" trophy between the two teams and is awarded to the team that wins that year's series between Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC. Named simply The Barrel (TM), the trophy recognizes the constant construction traffic that separates the two cities, and currently resides in Indianapolis. The last I saw of it, it was sitting in the house of current Brickyard Battalion President Katherine Reed.

In October, I decided to take Matt's inspiration and scale The Barrel down to something that didn't take a corner of my house like it does in Katherine's, and created a 1:10 scale version of the trophy using a 3-D printed barrel, some high resolution printing, and my first attempt at weathering the barrel without actually destroying it. Since it was made of 3-D printed material, I couldn't dent it to look like the full-scale version, but I thought it turned out well enough that I decided to share my scaled version of the Barrel on Twitter. Luckily for my ego, The (Mini) Barrel was well received, with several people either suggesting I could sell them, or that I should sell them. I never made it to make money, but was happy that people liked my version of The Barrel. 

However, one of the comments for that Twitter post came from the Brickyard Battalion and suggested selling them and donating the money, which caught my attention. I don't have a ton of desire to take a bunch of 1:10 scale models of traffic cones, weather them, and sell them, no matter how much I might make from them, from a fairly small demographic (Indy Eleven or Louisville City fans, wanting to have a version of the trophy in their home...). I kept coming back to the idea though, of creating a LIMITED amount of The (Mini) Barrels, auctioning them, and donating ALL THE PROCEEDS to charity. 

So that's what I've done. 

If you've ever looked at my answers to my Soccer Life questionnaire, or my Twitter account, I have always associated my soccer career with the #6, so I decided to create SIX versions of my original (Mini) Barrel and will be auctioning them leading up to this year's first LIPAFC contest on May 27th. Bids will close at 11:59 PM of the Thursday before the game (May 25th) and bids will be received by commenting to this post with your bid and preferred barrel so that everybody can keep track of the latest bids. Winners will be notified on Friday (May 26th) via this post and by a Twitter post by me. If you're going to be at the LIPAFC game on the 27th (or know somebody who will and can get yours to you), I will hand deliver your winning (Mini) Barrel to you. If I need to ship your (Mini) Barrel to you, I would ask that you pay for the shipping. Winning payments can be via cash in person or via Venmo (details upon winning).

Again, ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to charity, and I have selected The Julian Center in Indianapolis as the recipient of the donation. The Julian Center "was founded in 1975 to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout Indiana and empower them to recover and build a life for themselves and their families absent of abuse." Every cent from each of The (Mini) Barrels will be donated to this organization.

I would like to request that bids for each (Mini) Barrel start at $30. If bids reach $60, I will include a scarf to add to your winnings (I do have one Louisville Racing scarf, and one Louisville City scarf with the short-lived failed logo change from 2019 if you happen to be an auction winner from Louisville and don't want an Indy scarf, which you can see in the photo to the right). If bids reach $100, I'll transfer two tickets to you for any future Indy Eleven game this season.

The (Mini) Barrels:

  • Come with a black stand (which you can see in the photos), but the barrels can stand on their own without the stand.
  • Have a label indicating that it was part of a LIMITED EDITION SET of 6.
  • Resemble each other, but are not exact duplicates, as I'm a human being and not a machine.
Below is a photo of each of The (Mini) Barrels being auctioned

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Sacramento Republic - 10.09


- Opponent: Sacramento Republic FC
- Location: Heart Health Field
- Attendance: 8,763
- Final Score: 3-1 L

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

- Substitution: Robledo 70' (Tejada); King 76' (Dambrot); Vazquez 87' (Lindley)

- Unused: Trilk, Rissi

- Scoring Summary:
SAC – Cicerone 3' (unassisted)
SAC - Cicerone 8' (unassisted)
IND - Dambrot 51' (assist Lindley)
SAC - Cicerone 86' (assist Lewis)

- Bookings:
SAC – Felipe 7’ (Yellow)
SAC - Gurr 35' (Yellow)
IND - Tejada 52' (Yellow)
SAC - Sanchez 62' (Yellow)
IND - Robledo 90'+1' (Yellow)
IND - Boudadi 90'+3' (Yellow)

- Referee: Alexis Da Silva
- Adage goals: THREE!

Thoughts and Opinions

With Rebellon out with a hamstring and Fjeldberg off to Colorado Springs, and Martinez not available for selection due to the agreement between Indy and Sacramento as part of Martinez's contract, Macca King was thrust into a game day lineup. However, Coach Lowry fielded just three other field player subs plus Trilk. Indy built this year's lineup for quality not quality, but right now that is being testing with limited number of players available to come off the bench. With a starting game temperature of 95-degrees F, not having a lot of bodies capable of sharing the burden meant Indy had to manage their effort. Which meant that Indy's normal high press had to be more conservative.

Not that it mattered.

Two minutes and 19 seconds. A third minute goal by Sacramento, when Indy's absolute unwavering decision to play out of the back meant Oettl was out of his box, put a poor pass towards Jerome that bounced off of him, and Cicerone chipped Oettl to get the scoring started. Indy just keeps making it hard on themselves by giving up early goals and forcing them to chase the game. They exacerbated the hole by giving up a second goal in the 7th minute on a scramble play that bounced around after Oettl didn't make a catch on a cross, and Cicerone calmly slotted his follow-up shot to his follow-up shot to the right side of the goal.

The chances continued to build for Sacramento, finishing the first half with 11 shots to Indy's 1, but Indy's shot didn't happen until the 45th minute. This was about as dominant a first half against Indy as we've seen this season. Indy barely looked in this game in the first half. It wasn't until Indy managed to get a 51st minute Lindley corner kick that Dambrot headed past Vitiello that Indy looked like a team that realized they were playing the last undefeated team in the league, and began to try and play at the same level. 

Yet, they're not. A late goal from Sacramento put the game to bed, and continued Indy's ongoing trend of not being disciplined for the entire 90-minutes. Sacramento's third goal was the absolute definition of guys switching off because a guy is in an offside position, and allowing a guy who is onside to receive the ball. I think there was a slight legit argument that Archimede being in that offside position was affecting the play, but it goes to guys playing to the whistle and not playing to what they think should be whistled. 

Indy are not at the same level as the elite teams in the league. They have the proven talent, but that talent isn't getting results here in Indy. Tonight, I saw someone on Twitter say "something has to change." What? What can change? I don't think it is time to even discuss whether Lowry should be on a hot seat. So throwing that out, what changes can be made on the roster? King for Fjeldberg doesn't solve the goal scoring issues. Indy really only has 18 legit game day players, and they're all getting their chance right now to consistent results. I don't get paid to win games for Indy Eleven, but it feels like they're missing a legit #10 and a legit poaching goal scorer. The only way you change that is with trades or more budget. 

Indy finishes yet another California road trip with a loss. To further extend the bad news is that Indy has to play yet another California team this season. Indy finished their early season run against Cali teams with a 0W-0D-4L record (3 GF vs 10 GA), and still have to face another California team on July 1st against San Diego. Indy return home to play Colorado Springs just over a week after the King/Fjeldberg trade, and Lindley's first chance to play against his former teammates. Indy need to string a few wins (or at a minimum positive results) together or Indy's season motto of #ItsTime will be transitioning from It(is) Time to It(was) Time.

Weird post-game note: The top three teams in the Eastern Conference all have NEGATIVE goal differentials. This league is weird. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball

It feels weird to even consider giving the GBGB to Oettl when the team gives up 3 goals, but he was forced to make 7 other saves on the night. Was it Lindley? Was it Jerome in his first start of the season? How about we just leave the GBGB unawarded tonight as one more thing that was lost in California this season?