Sunday, June 11, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Hartford Athletic - 10.13


- Opponent: Hartford Athletic
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 9,073
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Oettl, Vazquez, Jerome, Diz Pe, Blake, Lindley, Quinn, Molina, Robledo, Martinez, Guenzatti (C)

- Substitution: Rissi 18’ (Robledo); Velasquez 68’ (Lindley); Asante 68’ (Molina); Tejada 89’ (Guenzatti)

- Unused: Trilk, Chavarria, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
HFD – Edwards 11’ (unassisted)

- Bookings:
HFD – Hoppenot 6’ (Yellow)
IND – Diz Pe 6’ (RED)
HFD – Hodge 45’+1’ (Yellow)
HFD – Hodge 49’ (Yellow, RED)
IND – Lindley 50’ (Yellow)
HFD – Merrill 58’ (Yellow)
IND – Martinez 64’ (Yellow)
HFD – Barrera 77’ (Yellow)
IND – Rissi 90’+3’ (RED)

- Referee: Joshua EncarnaciĆ³n
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Both Indy and Hartford came into the game feeling good about themselves. The last time out for both teams finished with good results. Indy took it to conference leading Charleston, in part due to a 19 second red card and a 2nd minute converted penalty kick by Quinn. It took them 70 minutes to see the ball go into the goal again, but once they did, they came in rapid succession for a 4-nil win. Hartford, sitting at the bottom of the table, came into Indy with not a win, but an acceptable draw against Louisville. As the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, Coach Tab Ramos wanted to take the point and build upon it. While Indy’s recent games have been an up-and-down affair as it relates to the results, Coach Lowry also wanted to take the most recent successes and translate it to beating the teams they should be beating.

Before the game had already started, Indy already had a moral victory. For only the third time in the past two months, Indy fielded a full 18 players in the game day roster, thanks in part to some of the Academy players getting healthy, and in part because Indy signed Sebastian Velasquez, who played for Coach Lowry in El Paso. Admittedly, the guys on the bench are probably still getting back to match fitness, or aren’t yet familiar with the rest of the players on the roster, but it did, in theory, give Coach Lowry with some late game options that have not been available to him in recent weeks due to the rash of injuries. Those subs went for not because of the way the game progressed, but maybe it's a glimpse at the light of the injury tunnel.

Look, you all know I try to be professional on this site, but I’m still a fan first. So, please pardon this rare deviation from my normal attempts at being professional.

Fuck Antoine Hoppenot. 

Seriously, I hated that guy when he was in Louisville, and my opinion isn't improving over time.

Look, I'll admit that Diz Pe was a bit crazy with his legs and feet when he went to ground after being forcefully pushed to the ground, but he was put into that position because Hoppenot did what Hoppenot does, which is be a pain in the ass. The red card against Diz Pe was devastating, as it led 5-minutes later to a goal by Hartford (first goal in club history by an opponent in the 11th minute of a game...the answer to the trivia question is now Hackshaw for Indy and Edwards for Hartford as the only players to score in the 11th minute in Indy club history). The card also affected Indy’s substitution pattern as Coach Lowry had to bring off Robledo so that he could get Rissi in to shore up the already thin back line. Indy started the game in what looked like a 3-5-2 because of the injuries to the backline, but the early card forced Indy into a 5-3-1 to stem the bleeding that was happening as Hartford looked like they were trying to put the game well out of reach early. For a team that is sitting at the bottom of the table, Hoppenot’s typical antics and a basic yellow card called against him made Hartford’s process much easier. Hoppenot instigated the contact on a routine play on a ball with the keeper, and yet was able to walk away from the kerfuffle he started relatively unscathed, but managed to put his team in an ideal position. I think Hoppenot's instigation in the incident deserved more than a yellow, and that will come back to hurt Indy again later.

After the card, and Indy’s change in tactics, Hartford looked more inclined to sit back, absorb pressure, and counter. So Indy managed to maintain a possession advantage through much of the first half, though couldn’t find a way through the Hartford defense. Indy and Hartford went to the locker room with Indy down a goal.

After a red card and two penalty kicks last week, you had to wonder if the soccer gods over-corrected all at once on the bounces going for/against Indy. An early red card in this makes it seem like that over-correction did indeed happen and Indy was back to not getting the good bounces. 
“It seems like something different every week. Typically it has been injuries, but this time it was a red card. We’re going to be out another defender for next week. We just can’t catch a break.” – Lowry at halftime to Rakestraw

The second half was barely underway when the game turned on its head again. A ridiculous reaction from Hodge to a professional foul from Lindley gave Hodge a second yellow in the matter of minutes of game time having picked up his first in stoppage time of the first half, as he swung a roundhouse towards Lindley, suddenly sending both teams to level at 10v10 as the yellow turned to red. Once again, based on the offense, I think it should have been a straight red, but the result was the same; Hartford was down to 10 men as well. 

The result of the yellow turned the game into a back-and-forth affair, as both teams looked to find a goal to either pull a goal back or put the game out of reach, depending on your perspective. With things at level terms, at least from a personnel perspective, Indy continued to look like the better team, and like the one who would pull a goal back, and then use that momentum to press for the game winner.

Unfortunately for Indy fans, that tying goal didn't happen until the 85th minute, leaving minimal time to get the goal that would have given Indy all three points. The goal they did get was from a long throw-in from Martinez that bounced through the box to Guenzatti who saw an on-rushing Blake, who one-timed it through traffic and beyond the reach of Rice.

Indy managed just one more shot on target and one more off target in the remaining part of the game, and both teams walked away with a point. Not the point total that I thought they deserved from their play, and not the point total that Hartford thought they were going to get after an early red card and early goal tilted things (results wise) in their favor. This was one of those results where both teams felt like they could have left with more. 

But this is the USL and you never know what you're going to get. Unless you're Indy Eleven. Then you know that Coach Lowry is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his magic hat to make things work, because you lost two more defenders in this game. That's right folks, Diz Pe wasn't the only one who received a red card in this game, as Rissi, who came on early to help solidify the backline after Diz's departure, picked up his red card in the 90'+3'. How did he get his red card? Rissi misjudged an angle, and Hoppenot put a ball around him and they were off to the races. Rissi caught up just enough to serve as Johnny like he had been told to "sweep the leg."

Straight red, and Indy Eleven walk away with a point and two less defenders. 

In the grand scheme of things, I'm not sure if losing another defender was worth the potential saving of the point. Indy is now without five of their listed seven defenders plus no Rebellon when they head to Birmingham, unless one of them (maybe Dambrot???) is ready, but even then none of them would be full-match ready. I honestly don't know what kind of lineup Coach Lowry is going to be able to cobble together next week to survive and hope for a point out of a game on the road. 

After an early red card that dismissed Diz Pe and the late red card that dismissed Rissi for next week, Birmingham should send a "thank you" fruit basket to Hoppenot for making their life a little easier next week. He, himself, was responsible for exacerbating Indy's current depth issues by getting two separate players tossed from the game.
So I say again, fuck Antoine Hoppenot.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Much like my awarding of the GBGB to Chatterton from Friday night's women's game against Lexington, my eyes kept being drawn to a player who I thought was putting in a good shift and effort. I was going to give it to him either way, but then he went and scored the game tying goal, making it much easier for me to rationalize it. He just looked like he knew he had to step up his game even more than normal when they were down a player. "I'm here to do a job, whatever the gaffer asks of me, and the coach staff, is what I'll do. I'll play goalkeeper if they want me to." It may not be goalkeeper next week, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him along the backline in some way next week against Birmingham.

Additional Photos - Don Thompson Photography

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