Saturday, September 16, 2023

Indy Eleven vs New Mexico United - 10.29


- Opponent: New Mexico United
- Location: Isotopes Park
- Attendance: 8,527
- Final Score: 3-2 L

- Starting XI: Trilk, Rebellon, Jerome, Diz Pe, Dambrot, Blake, Lindley, Asante, Velasquez, Guenzatti (C), Pinho

- Substitution: Vazquez 70' (Pinho); Molina 81' (Dambrot); Robledo 81' (Blake)

- Unused: Crawford, Reveno

- Scoring Summary:
IND – Guenzatti 9’ (assist Lindley)
NM - Rivas 44' (assist Hernandez)
NM - Hernandez 64' (assist Bailey)
NM - Portillo 86' (penalty kick)
IND - Vazquez 90'+4' (unassisted)

- Bookings:
NM - Portillo 27’ (Yellow)
NM - Ryden 27' (Yellow)
IND - Blake 39' (Yellow)
IND - Trilk 84' (Yellow)
IND - Vazquez 84' (Yellow)

- Referee: Brad Jensen
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

Direct quote from my last article for the Miami game
Diz has time to recuperate before the next game, which won't be until Friday the 15th at New Mexico, but not having guys available for selection is rearing its head again. Boudadi received a 27th minute yellow card, putting him out for the NM game. Callum-Page picked up a hip injury before the Miami game that might leave him out for a few weeks according to team sources. Martinez picked up a knock that kept him out. King is out indefinitely. If Diz is unable to go in two weeks, the backline is once again going to be light. Though getting Vazquez back helps, but he's only played 14 minutes since returning and probably still isn't fully match fit. 

The roster for tonight's game came out and missing from the lineup were Boudadi (of course, yellow card accumulation will do that to your ability to play), Callum-Page, Martinez, King, Walker, and Quinn. Indy had just four field players on the bench and Academy player Crawford as the backup goalkeeper. Indy's game day roster was reminiscent of so many other games earlier this season. Coach Lowry has talked to me about how the injuries and suspensions take away his ability to affect a game with substitutions (when and whom). Tonight was no different. Throw in a weather delay before the game could even get started and a game on a baseball field, and my concern about how this game would go was already skewed to the pessimistic side before it even reached 9:00 EST.

Amazingly, with the loss, Indy proved my pessimism to be founded and, at least temporarily, could have found themselves in 4th place in the table. Memphis, Louisville, and Birmingham still have games to play this weekend that could have a say in that ranking, but with the way Indy has hovered around the playoff cut line this season (never higher than 7th starting in week 6 until week 23, with 6 of those weeks sitting out of the playoffs), the fact that 4th place was attainable at all demonstrates the run-of-form this team had been on in recent weeks and the absolute unpredictability of results in the league.

I appreciate the need to play out of the back, but the field at Isotopes Park is too narrow to make some of the plays Indy were attempting early in the game after the first goal when NM were trying to immediately claw one back. With the compactness of the field, defenders don't have to go very far to press the ball, and as more defenders get into the press, it's okay to lob the ball up the field to release the pressure. Trilk and the CB duo of Jerome and Diz Pe put the team in some nervy positions early.

In the 26th minute, Indy were awarded their first penalty kick of the season where Quinn was unavailable to take it. Lindley did what he normally does and held onto the ball like he was going to be the one to take the kick, and then proceeded to hand the ball off to another player. Tonight, in Quinn's absence, that player was Guenzatti. Guenzatti is more than capable of scoring from the spot, and having scored once tonight and each of the previous two games, it seemed Indy would be up 2-nil within the first 30-minutes of the game. However, Thomas guessed the correct direction and was able to collect Guenzatti's shot, keeping NM in the game.  

Just before halftime, Indy had a wayward pass find its way to the feet of a NM player, and despite Indy being in good defensive shape at the start of the loss of possession, NM quickly countered through some lunging Indy defenders to find Rivas on the right side of the goal. Trilk managed to get something to it, but it still found its way behind him and into the goal, leveling the evening's affairs right before the halftime whistle. The missed penalty kick from Guenzatti in the 26th minute now loomed large as the two teams were level heading to the locker rooms with another half to play, at elevation, with just one forward and one midfield attackers left on the bench for Indy to make in the second half to try and get a win on the road.

Twenty minutes after the teams returned from the locker room, NM completed the comeback, getting a goal from Hernandez, who had streaked forward. As he received the ball, he had acres of space before Lindley came rushing back to defend. Hernandez put Lindley in the spin cycle, took another touch, and placed his shot nicely out of reach of Trilk who was leaning the wrong way. Indy then had 26 minutes to find their own equalizer. Unfortunately for Indy fans, Indy went 50 minutes without a shot (on or off target) going from the 30th minute to the 80th minute. Indy's only shot in the second half was the 90'+4' goal from Vazquez. New Mexico's high press worked perfectly. They allowed Indy to pass around the back line trying to probe for the next pass through the NM front line, but were slow enough about it to allow the NM team to organize their press. When the press worked, NM went at the Indy goal fast and with numbers. Those numbers led to goals.

New Mexico finalized the important part of the evening's proceedings in the 86th minute with a penalty kick goal after Trilk was forced to make a play on the ball and caught more of the man than the ball. Portillo calmly put his attempt in the goal and the game out of reach. Indy found a stoppage time goal in the 90'+4' to make the scoreline look a little better, but it didn't matter as the ref blew the whistle shortly after the restart. 

The loss brings the undefeated streak to an end with a disappointing thud. Indy's magic number remains at 10 with just five games remaining. Playoffs are still achievable, but this was a game were Indy could have found points to help their cause. As it stands, Indy didn't move up or down the conference table, but Birmingham could have something to say about that by the end of the weekend. 

Indy return to action on Wednesday on the road to take on the Juan Guerra-led Phoenix Rising, with former Indy striker Arteaga near the top of the league in goals behind only his teammate, Trejo, and Pittsburgh forward Dikwa ahead of him. Arteaga and Trejo by themselves have combined for 29 goals for Phoenix, or 78% of Indy's total. The Indy defenders are going to need to have good games on Wednesday.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
This is another one of those games where I have a hard time picking the GBGB. Players had moments, some good, some bad. Guenzatti stands out due to his amazing first goal, but then also his failed penalty kick goal. He also managed 3 of the teams 4 shots on goal. By a thread, Guenzatti gets tonights GBGB in the loss.

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