Sunday, May 21, 2023

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)


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