Sunday, October 29, 2023

Indy Eleven vs Charleston Battery - 10.35 (Playoffs)


- Opponent: Charleston Battery
- Location: Patriots Point
- Attendance: 2,972
- Final Score: 5-0 L

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

- Substitution: Molina 64' (Robledo); Pinho 64' (Velasquez); Vazquez 64' (Dambrot)

- Unused: Oettl, Chapman-Page, Reveno 

- Scoring Summary:
CHS – Ycaza 12’ (assist Rodriguez)
CHS - Williams 37' (assist Markanich)
CHS - Rodriguez 40' (Barajas)
CHS - Barajas 47' (Rodriguez)
CHS - Markanich 63' (Williams)

- Bookings:
CHS - Williams 16’ (Yellow)
IND - Boudadi 57' (Yellow)
IND - Vazquez 72' (Yellow)
IND - Diz Pe 76' (Yellow)
IND - Lindley 83' (Yellow)
CHS - Ycaza 90' (Yellow)

- Referee: Jeremy Scheer
- Adage goals: Two

Thoughts and Opinions

When this game started, I was walking around the National Mall in Washington D.C. with the family, but let my phone continue to keep me notified of what was going on in the game. I continued on with my vacation knowing that there wasn't going to be a home match in the second week of the playoffs after all the other high seeds in the Eastern Conference lost on Saturday. Despite knowing the result of the game,  I went ahead and actually watched the game now that I'm back, because, apparently, I'm a glutton for punishment after watching Purdue (football) lose to Nebraska on one screen and Purdue (men's basketball) lose to Arkansas in a scrimmage for charity in overtime to Arkansas. 

Before I watched the game, with full knowledge of the final score, I thought about what I might see. I wondered how Indy, one of the stingiest defenses in the entire league, could concede five goals in a playoff game. Indy hadn't conceded more than 3 in a game this season, even during the rough up-and-down stretch through the majority of the middle of the season. What I saw ran the gamut of issues.
  1. Charleston's first goal was a set piece corner kick.
  2. The second goal happened when Diz Pe was dispossessed 30 to 40-yards from goal, which led to a shot from outside the box that Trilk let bounce off his hands into the bottom right of the goal. Trilk nearly allowed a similar goal earlier in the game, but Diz cleared the ball off the line while being fouled.
  3. Just a few minutes later, 5 Indy defenders tracked 3 CHS attackers, but leaving the 4th attacker wide open in the middle of the box for an open header past Trilk. 
  4. Immediately after halftime, on a recycled corner kick, Charleston out-hustled the Indy defenders for yet another middle of the box shot through 5 Indy defenders that parted like the Red Sea.
  5. Finally, a cross past Diz went mere feet past Trilk across the goal mouth to an on-rushing Ycaza who beat Boudadi to the ball. 
Indy couldn't defend. When Indy had the ball, CHS defended in numbers and defended quickly, rarely giving Indy time nor space to effectively accomplish much. Indy couldn't attack. Indy managed just a single shot on target, a shot from Macca King that went straight to Muse. A shot that happened from just outside the box in the 19th minute. Not a single shot on target the rest of the game. Not even a 66th minute breakaway where Martinez seemed to be ahead of everybody, but Segbers overtook Martinez and prevented a shot. 

As good as Indy looked the week before during large stretches in San Antonio, they looked just as badly during large stretches in Charleston. When Indy lost Quinn with 6 games to go in the season, Indy took a few games to settle into not having him available. Indy went into this game without Asante due to his red card suspension in the San Antonio game, and Blake who had an ankle injury. As a result, Indy started both King and Robledo. Robledo had only started a dozen games before this one and had only played a total of 48 minutes in the past three games combined. Similarly, King had also only played just 48 minutes in a substitute role in the past two games combined after having not played for the preceding ten games. I appreciate Macca, but the midfield looked completely different than it has when Indy has looked its best. 

Indy struggled this year, with injuries and suspensions derailing any momentum that they managed to get going. It's probably fitting that two more (one injury and one suspension) factored into their performance against Charleston. As promising as this season looked coming into it, and as good as the team looked at times throughout the season, it's a bit disheartening to think that the team has such an issue with depth that just one or two players can have Indy go from looking like they did in the first half against San Antonio to a team that gets clobbered by 5-nil in the first weekend of the playoffs. It's something I'll likely discuss in my end-of-season recap, but not here.
As I thought about the game during my vacation, my pessimistic nature (and being a long-time Cubs fan) kicked in and Indy fans should have known that things wouldn't go well for the men's 1st team. The club isn't at a point where fans should realistically think that it's possible for the club to win an USL W League championship and win (or even make a run in) the USL Championship in the same season. We're just not there as a club where that seems feasible. Maybe some day.

The Game Beckons Game Ball

I don't really want to finish the season without awarding the Game Beckons Game Ball, but does any player really deserve it when the team gets beaten by 5 goals and only manages one shot on target in 90 minutes of action? After arguing with myself that there had to be at least one good performance by one of the players, I just couldn't rationalize it in that kind of loss in that kind of game.

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