Thursday, August 10, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion - 10.23


- Opponent: Birmingham Legion
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 7,194 (if you say so)
- Final Score: 4-0 W

- Starting XI: Trilk, Boudadi, Diz Pe, Jerome, Dambrot, Lindley, Quinn, Asante, Robledo, Martinez, Guenzatti (C)

- Substitution: Blake 71' (Robledo); Velasquez 71' (Asante); Chapman-Page 82' (Guenzatti); Pinho 82' (Martinez); Molina 89' (Dambrot)

- Unused: Crawford, Reveno

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Guenzatti 24' (assist Asante)
IND - Guenzatti 63' (assist Asante)
IND - Martinez 65' (assist Asante)
IND - Molina 89' (assist Velasquez)

- Bookings:
IND - Martinez 41' (Yellow)
BHM - Martinez 48' (Yellow)
BHM - Nwegbo 49' (Yellow)
BHM - Brett 61' (Yellow)
BHM - Smith 90'+1' (Yellow)

- Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
When the U.S. Women's National Team were defeated in penalty kicks on Sunday morning, there were a lot of discussions about an unprecedented loss by them going out earlier than any other USWNT in any major tournament. Ever. However, there was also this underlying discussion and tone that the result didn't match the performance. As I listened to it over and over again as I tried to make sense of their exit, I kept hearing Mark Lowry's voice in my head. He said it the night before the USWNT's loss, after Indy lost to Memphis:

"Only one team deserved to win that game, and unfortunately, the team that deserved it, didn't get it. Tactically, technically, we were the better team."

He even reiterated it last night after the game against Birmingham:

"The results haven't reflected the performances this season."

I've heard the refrain from him so often this season that I compare it to the old standby of "we need time to gel" as the reason why the results aren't happening. It's an excuse. 

As I watched the RE-CAP show with Christen Press and Tobin Heath on Monday (a must watch if you want to see how former USWNT players took the loss compared to you, a fan, took the loss. Tobin was fired up...), Christen said, "Aren't results part of the performance too? ... Can you say that's a good performance if you're not scoring?"

It's a valid and legitimate question. Performance doesn't get you out of the Round of 16 in the World Cup. Performance (so far) doesn't get you in the USL Championship playoffs.

Results get you into the quarterfinals. Results get you into the playoffs. 

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
Positive results are what happen when you have a complete performance. That, a complete performance, is what Indy fans saw last night as Guenzatti found the back of the net twice on very similar crosses and headers past Spangernberg. Martinez, playing more up top and unencumbered by his recent wingback role, looked much more comfortable and I had fewer concerns about his decision making. He did pick up a silly yellow after continuing to play the ball into the goal after being called offside. That gives him 7 on the season, but he might have had one of those taken off his record for a run of good behavior. After rattling off 4 yellow cards in 4 games, he had gone 9 games without a yellow. So he might not be on yellow-card accumulation watch just yet. 

Indy looked like the better team for the majority of the game, despite the rare instance where Indy lost official possession battle. They put 4 goals on the board, and kept a clean sheet. That's a performance, and one the guys can be completely happy about.

It's just a shame that the boys put a complete performance together on a night when a 2.5-hour rain delay forced the game to start at just after 9:30 and not finish until 11:30. On a night where dozens of fans were in attendance instead of thousands. The game I saw last night against Birmingham is the kind of game, performance and result, that I had hoped we would see all season. 

Birmingham have been a streaky team this year, coming into this game with a 9W-10L-2D record, where they lost 5 consecutive games in the month of May. They made the trip to Indy sitting on a two-game losing streak. They weren't rolling into The Mike with a ton of confidence, but Indy was on their own two-game losing streak so both teams needed the win as the season reached its 2/3rd mark.

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer
At times this season, I have felt that you could time Indy's fast breaks with an egg timer. Indy were much more effective in this game in going and going quickly. I still think there were moments when the ball was pushed back when they had a chance to test BHM's defense, but it was better. Indy found multiple gaps in the BHM midfield as Diz Pe or Jerome sent crisp, direct passes through the first line of forwards/midfielders, and once Lindley or Quinn or Asante received the ball, they had space around them to turn and immediately break up field to find Martinez or Guenzatti. Add Robledo's effort into the mix and it was a lot for the BHM midfielders and defenders to handle. 

Conversely, Indy's team defense was extremely effective as guys covered for other guys, and the defense started with the guys up top pressing the ball. Let's not forget Trilk who had to make three saves, each of them difficult, but that he dealt with perfectly. 

This was a good result for Indy from a complete performance. The win puts Indy back above the playoff line for the time being, with the team immediately on the other side of the line up next on the docket when Indy travels to Miami on Saturday. A win on the road would do wonders for Indy's confidence, and help them push through the final third of the season to stay above the playoff line or move up the table. Was last night a sign of things to come, or just another high note on the pogo season? We'll known in a couple of days if Indy can continue complete performances with positive results.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Tonight's GBGB goes to the duo of Guenzatti and Asante. Solo has had his role adjusted lately to come off the bench and provide a late-game spark, but was in the starting lineup due to some squad rotation with 3 games in 8 days. Asante made full use of his minutes with a hat-trick of assists thanks to his superb crosses. Guenzatti regularly starts, but was rewarded for the effort he has shown all season with the team's third brace of the season, and first for a player not named Quinn. Asante became the first player in USL league history to reach the 50/50 mark (goals/assists), edging out Quinn who is an assist away from joining Solo at that mileston. Guenzatti took over 9th place in league history for goals scored. Those are some accomplishments worthy of the GBGB.

But wait, there's more. 

The first ever FOGBGB (Front Office Game Beckons Game Ball).

The below photo was the field during the heavy rains before the game, nearly completely submerged under water, with just a small strip of field down the middle that wasn't affected. Senior Director of Venue & Game Operations Morgan Kuehnle and her crew did an amazing job getting the field into a condition that was playable by the delayed 9:30 start time. When I walked into the stadium around 8:30, there was still an armada of operations staff in rain gear (except for Morgan who was in her standard suit) with squeegees, working hard to get the last of the persistent water off of the field. Without their effort, this game would not have taken place. Without their result, the team wouldn't have been able to get their result. Congrats Morgan for receiving the first ever FOGBGB.

Photo Credit: Matt Schlotzhauer

No comments: