Sunday, July 23, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 10.19


- Opponent: Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 11,117
- Final Score: 0-0 D

- Starting XI: Oettl, Boudadi, Jerome, King, Quinn, Lindley, Velasquez, Asante, Pinho, Martinez, Guenzatti (C)

- Substitution: Robledo 69’ (Velasquez); Chapman-Page 89’ (Pinho)

- Unused: Trilk, Molina, Sanchez

- Scoring Summary:

- Bookings:
TBR – Areman 12’ (Yellow)
TBR – Lasso 16’ (Yellow)
IND – Velasquez 27’ (Yellow)

- Referee: Greg Dopka
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

The nightcap for a day at Carroll Stadium after a championship winning game for the women involved the men against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. However the game finished, the men's game was going to be anticlimactic after watching the women defeat the North Carolina Courage U23 by a 2-1 score line thanks to a 99th minute goal by Alia Martin in the first half of extra time. 

Due to the injuries and suspensions, Coach Lowry had to get creative with the starting lineup, with Martinez playing the right wing. Asante, who has been coming off the bench, also found his way into the starting lineup. There wasn’t much depth in this game with only four players on the bench not named Tim Trilk, and one of those four was Callum Chapman-Page who has been in town for just a couple of days, and another was Sanchez, an Academy player who has played a total of 2 minutes all season. It’s a good thing the game was the nightcap and not the afternoon heat that the women had to deal with in their game, because the majority of the starters were going to have to go the full 90-minutes tonight.

Seeing the way the team lined up, and knowing some of Jerome’s mistakes this season, having him and Martinez on the same side next to each other kind of worried me. Much of Tampa Bay’s early advances up the field were coming up the left side of their attack, so they too must have noticed the change. After Tampa Bay’s second yellow in the 16th minute, Lindley dropped back into the defense as Martinez crept forward along the byline. Indy then put a ball long to Martinez that ultimately led to a cross, but nobody was able to latch onto it and it rolled all the way through. That’s the tactical advantage of having a player like Martinez sitting on the back line. His preference is to plow forward with pace and around the defenders.

Early in the game, it seemed like the Indy men wanted to make sure that the women’s team wasn’t the only one with a victory in today’s doubleheader. Indy actually looked to be the better team in the first half, with more shots and shots on target than the Rowdies, but the teams went to the locker room in a nil-nil deadlock. However, given the roster issues of Indy Eleven and the required adjustments to the starting lineup, I think Indy was satisfied with, if not happy with, the empty score line. The question coming back out of the halftime break was whether the Eleven had the legs in them to play out the game with the limited substitutes available. 

There are teams where their first thought is to move forward towards their opponent’s goal. That is not this team's first thought for most of the players for most of the game. Velasquez was the only one tonight who reluctantly passed backwards as he wants to attack, not methodically break down Tampa Bay, which was the general effort from Indy for much of the second half. The urgency going forward just wasn't there for stretches of the game. Martinez continues to go forward, but as soon as he gets into a position to send in a cross or attack with the dribble, he stops, puts his foot on the ball, and passes backwards. I'm not sure why a guy of his ability goes backwards so frequently where there are players like Guenzatti and Pinho in the box eagerly waiting for a cross.

I would like to tell you exactly how Coach Lowry thought of the performance, but he no longer comes back out to address the media. He did go Twitter to commend the BYB for their effort today in the doubleheader, where he also said he was happy with his team's effort. That's the extent of what I know from his perspective.

From my perspective, at this point in the season, Indy hasn't shown much chance of moving up the table into a better playoff position, and, in fact, dropped down after tonight's results. If Indy want to remain in a playoff position, they need to be as concerned with how the teams below them are performing and both Tulsa and Detroit have leap frogged Indy in recent weeks. There are some games in hand with those teams, but Indy is currently headed in the wrong direction from a playoff perspective.

After watching the women's team play an exciting game, winning a league championship in the process, the men's nightcap was always going to feel like a bit of a let down, regardless of the result. In front of 11,000+ fans, a nil-nil draw left me feeling like Indy managed the game despite having some opportunities to get more out of the game. Congratulations though to Quinn who became the league's all-time leader in minutes played.

Indy head on the road on Wednesday to play Pittsburgh, and then follow that up with a road trip to Louisville next Saturday. Diz Pe and Dambrot will be back from their suspensions giving Lowry some additional options with the starting lineup and substitutions. How much they do with the returning players will be seen.

One the downhill side of the season, Indy are going to need to start getting more points from games or Indy is going to be watching the playoffs from their homes yet again.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Velasquez stands out for me in this game with his effort and ability (and desire) to attack the Tampa Bay defense. That, by itself, is enough for me to give him tonight's GBGB.

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