Saturday, July 29, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Louisville City - 10.21


- Opponent: Louisville City FC
- Location: Lynn Family Stadium
- Attendance: 13,248
- Final Score: 2-0 L

- Starting XI: Oettl, King, Chapman-Page, Diz Pe, Dambrot, Blake, Quinn, Velasquez, Martinez, Pinho, Guenzatti (C)

- Substitution: Boudadi 58; (Pinho); Jerome 58' (Chapman-Page); Robledo 70' (Dambrot); Asante 70' (Velasquez); Molina 85' (Blake)

- Unused: Trilk, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:
LOU - Wynder 28' (assist Jimenez)
LOU - Lancaster 65' (assist Jimenez)

- Bookings:
IND - Dambrot 58’ (Yellow)
IND - Quinn 68' (Yellow)
IND - Diz Pe 86' (Yellow)
IND - Boudadi 90'+4' (Yellow)

- Referee: Ricardo Fierro
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

In the preceding three games before tonight's LIPAFC matchup between Indy and Louisville, Indy played Charleston (3rd in the table at the time), Tampa Bay (3rd in the table at the time), and Pittsburgh (1st in the table at the time), and have come out of stretch with one win and two draws, and a +2 goal differential. In the preceding three games before tonight's matchup, Louisville played Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Birmingham, and have come out of that stretch with zero wins, zero draws, and three losses with a -4 GD. Indy has been firmly rooted to 7th place in the table until recently where they dropped below the playoff line, but have found their way back above it with their recent run of form, while Louisville have made a steady decline down the table due to their form and came into this game in6th place. Louisville's three-game losing streak has happened just once in their club's history in league play, all the way back in their inaugural season in 2015. 

These were two teams coming into a rivalry game in completely different forms. 
Indy/Louisville started at the same time as the El Paso/RGV game. Within the first 20 minutes, Indy/Louisville was 0-0 with 3 shots (none on target and all by Louisville), while the ELP/RGV game was 2-2 with 11 shots (8 on target). To say that the IND/LOU game was a game between more defensive-minded teams is an understatement. Both teams are in the top of the league in goals conceded (5th and 8th best for Indy and Louisville, respectively), while also being at the bottom of the league in goals scored (19th for IND and second to last for LOU).

First Half Heat Map, nearly all in Indy's defensive half
Yet despite LOU's inability to score (amazingly, one of two of the top team's in the Eastern Conference with a negative goal differential on the season), it was LOU that found the first goal of the game. Indy held a 70/30 possession advantage at the time of the goal, but it was nearly all within Indy's defensive half of the field. Indy didn't get their first, and only, shot in the half until the 37th minute. The first half looked much like the early part of the season for Indy where they maintained possession, but couldn't do much with it. Another lapse in defending on Wynder put LOU ahead at the break. The two teams combined for a single shot on goal, though LOU put a free kick that doesn't count as an official shot on goal, but ricocheted off the crossbar indicating it was clearly a shot ON goal. If you were looking for high flying soccer, you should probably have been watching the ELP/RGV game that finished the first half at 3-2 with 17 shots (10 on target) and finished the game at 5-2 with 23 shots (13 on target). By contrast, this game had 21 shots (14 to 7 in favor of LOU) with 5 on target (all by LOU). While the Western Conference game was high octane, this game was a grind that LOU out-grinded.

Photo: David Mucker
Indy love to play out of the back with Lowry calling Oettl the best all-around goalkeeper in the USL. With consistent pressure from perpetual pain-in-the-asses Ownby and Lancaster, Indy nearly paid for their inflexible desire to play out of the back through the LOU's forward's pressure on the ball. In a clear example of a desire to "play our game," it's also a complete refusal to consider that how you play every team shouldn't be the same way. Ownby's and Lancaster's pressing is on a different level than many teams and nearly cost Indy a couple of times including the chance captured by a Louisville photographer when Ownby's effort nearly took the ball directly off of Oettl's foot. Indy's defenders are seem so comfortable with Oettl's ability with the ball at his feet that they often put him in situations where things could go sideways really easily, particularly with a player like Ownby. 

In the end, it was the Wynder goal in the first half and a corner kick header from Lancaster that brought Indy's 3-game uptick in results to a screeching halt in a 2-nil loss. The loss also meant that The Barrel remained in Louisville after winning the season series of the LIPAFC.

This game looked like the kind of game that exemplifies "how" Indy wants to play; with possession and in control of the tempo of the game. However, this game also exemplifies that Indy can't consistently create any chances from all the possession. There just isn't a constant ability to convert all of the possession, touches, and passes into legitimate shots, and definitely not legitimate shots on goal. Despite Indy having so much of the ball, there were really only a few times during the game when I thought they might turn it into chances on goal. There were even fewer moments when I thought that Indy was going to come away from this game with a win. The two teams looked like they were completely flipped on who was in the better form coming into this game.

Given the 3 games in 8 days situation for Indy against the top teams in the league, the fact that this was the only loss of the week is impressive. Even with the loss, Indy continue to hover around the playoff cut line with games in hand. Memphis comes to The Mike next weekend, in their own stretch of rough results, with a 0W-2D-4L record in their last six games. Regardless of Memphis' form, Indy are going have to find a way to create more chances to score than they did tonight or they're going to see a similar result as they saw in Louisville.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I know I've done this more times this year than I have in the past, but as I think about this game, there isn't a single player that stands out to me as having an exceptionally good game, even in the loss. The closest I can come is Oettl's save on Totsch shortly after Louisville's second goal that would have made it 3-nil. That's about it, and I don't think that is worthy enough to be given the GBGB. So once again, we're going to forego awarding it tonight.

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