Saturday, April 20, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC - 11.07


- Opponent: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- Location: Weidner Field
- Attendance: 6,687
- Final Score: 1-1 D

- Starting XI: Sulte, O'Brien, J., Chapman-Page, Diz Pe, Stanley, Lindley (C), Martinez, Blake, Ikoba, Guenzatti, Williams

- Substitution: Ofeimu 67' (O'Brien, J.); Collier 67' (Ikoba); Mines 85' (Martinez)

- Unused: Oettl, Gibson, O'Brien, E., Wootton

- Scoring Summary:
COL - 3' Damus (unassisted)
IND - 31' Williams (assist Stanley)

- Bookings:
IND - Chapman-Page 14' (Yellow)
IND - Lindley 15' (Yellow)
COL - Rocha 15' (Yellow)
IND - Martinez 18' (Yellow)
COL - Tejada 20' (Yellow)
COL - Hanya 45' (Yellow)
COL - Ackwei 58' (RED)
COL - Foster 70' (Yellow)
IND - Ofeimu 87' (Yellow)

- Referee: Trevor Wiseman
- Adage goals: One

Thoughts and Opinions

Looking at this year's Colorado Springs Switchgear roster is like a trip down Indy Eleven memory lane. Duke Lacroix from the early seasons, including the cross to Zayed in the 2016 game against the Carolina Railhawks that solidified the NASL Spring Championship. Juan Tejada and Jonas Fjeldberg. Two of the three players made the starting lineup, with Lacroix on the backline and Tejada starting up front. It says a lot about the history of the club that there are so many former Indy players around the league playing as opponents. Watching Pinho get 4 goals for Birmingham (another team with 3 former Indy players...also including Crognale and Pasher) in the midweek U.S. Open Cup game, reminds me that there are a bunch of super talented players out there that Indy has to face on a regular basis. #IndyForever, but not when they play Indy.

Throughout nearly all of Coach McAuley's tenure so far in Indy, he has said his goal with this team is to score goals. To that end, Indy hasn't been held scoreless in any game this season, including the US Open Cup game, scoring a total of 11 goals across all competitions. However, in those games, the only game they have kept an opponent scoreless is the midweek game against Chicago Fire II this past Wednesday. Six games into the season and Indy has given up 15 goals, with a -5 goal differential in league play. If there is a team that might need a good result more than Indy, it's Colorado Springs, having lost all 5 games they have played this season. Colorado came out firing in this game, getting their first goal in the 3rd minute on horrible defending from Indy. Sulte got his first start of the season in goal instead of Oettl, but less than five minutes into the game and his goal against average already took a hit. You might be able to blame the weather a bit, but he and the defenders made a mess of the cross that allowed Damus to open the scoring.

Then Colorado had more chances within minutes, including one off the woodwork in the 9th minute that would have made the game daunting for Indy. As it was, Indy weathered the early storm (minus the goal) to keep themselves within arms reach.

Then the yellow card parade started. Five players (3 for IND, 2 for COL) picked up yellow cards in a 6-minute window, making every tackle by players a nervy affair. Once the yellow cards slowed down, the game took on an appearance of guys walking on glass, knowing that there were 70-minutes remaining and wanting to be on the field instead of watching from the locker room. I'm not sure that I would call it boring soccer, but the flurry of yellow cards took a bunch of the high altitude air out of the stadium as none of the players wanted to get involved in an even marginal tackle that could send them to the locker room.

Halftime Goals - Looks like a mirror image
Then Indy found a way through a Stanley whipped cross to the center of the box that Williams firmly headed the ball past Herrera, despite having two defenders draped on him. Coach McAuley's statement that Indy was going to score goals this season continues to ring true. Indy have conceded the first goal in 4 of the 7 games, twice within the first three minutes, but have found a way to score goals after starting the game behind. If they can shore their defending (and goalkeeping if we're being honest), maybe this season starts going differently. Or maybe McAuley really just wants to play a style of soccer where Indy is going to either outscore teams or lose? He has said he wants this team to score goals and to bring excitement to the fans, but I think I can speak for a bunch of fans when I say that goals FOR are exciting. Continually watching the team concede goals AGAINST is less exciting. Even a bit frustrating. Seven games into the season, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride.

Oakland - down, level, down (2-1 L)
Memphis - up, up, up 1 (2-1 W)
Sacramento - down, level (1-1 D)
Detroit - up, level, down (2-1 L)
Louisville - down, level, down, down 2, down 1, down 2, down 3, down 2 (5-3 L)
Charleston - down, level, up, level, down 1, down 2 (4-2 L)

Yikes, this team is keeping fans on their toes.

The halftime break increased the precipitation, giving the second half an air of "anything can happen now." Just before the hour mark, Colorado's Ackwei was shown a straight red on a toe-footed tackle on Blake, proving the "anything can happen now" feeling. With a man advantage and 30 minutes to play, a positive result beyond the draw seemed like a very real possibility for Indy. The main thing going for Colorado in most games late in the game is the effects of the altitude. Up a man, Indy could hold possession more and force Colorado to chase the ball, potentially flipping the normal Colorado home field advantage on its head. However, some of Indy's field switches were slow enough that it didn't force Colorado players to exert as much energy as they could have been, but you could probably put some of that on the fact that Indy were also playing at altitude, even if they were up a man.

Final 30 Minutes - Indy Eleven Shots
In the end, Indy managed 6 shots after the red card booking and none for Colorado, but Indy couldn't take advantage of their man advantage, as Colorado's tactical change by playing what looked like 4 defenders, 4 holding midfielders, and 1 "attacking" midfielder served them well and was enough for them to see out the draw in the snowy/icy/rainy conditions. Both teams needed a positive result, and you could argue that a draw provided that for both teams. However, I think both teams can feel like they left points on the table. Colorado should have done more with their opportunities in the first half and Indy should have done more with their man advantage at the end of the second half. Between the two teams, they finished with nearly identical stats, which you might expect from a game that played out the way this one did. Indy's man advantage narrowed the stats as they dominated the run-of-play at the end of the game. 

Indy finish their run of 3 games in 8 days with a 1W-1D-1L record. Indy return home next weekend to play North Carolina FC, who also find themselves on the bottom part of the table in their return to the Championship. As mentioned earlier, Indy and North Carolina have a history of important games (Carolina was also the opponent for Indy's very first game in club history), so I expect that fans will be anxious to see how this new chapter pans out. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I have stated ad nauseam on here that sometimes the winner of the GBGB just wins my "eye test," which means that it might not always be the person that you might think. Tonight's player definitely wins the "eye test" for me, but his stats back up his selection. Stanley was solid in defense, but was very active going forward, accounting for 9 of Indy's 23 crosses, and created 4 chances in addition to his assist on William's goal. Some other players had good games, but Stanley edges them tonight for the GBGB.

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