Thursday, May 23, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Detroit City - 2024 U.S. Open Cup


- Opponent: Detroit City FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium 
- Attendance: 5,079
- Final Score: 3-0 W

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

- Substitution: Collier 66' (Guenzatti); Ikoba 66' (Martinez); Wootton 66' (Blake); Schneider 75' (Williams)

- Unused: Oettl, Boudadi, Gibson

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Own Goal 14' (Carroll)
IND - Williams 33' (assist Martinez)
IND - Ofeimu 36' (assist Stanley)

- Bookings:
IND - Ofeimu 7' (Yellow)
DET - Amoo-Mensah 61' (Yellow)
IND - Blake 65' (Yellow)
IND - Schneider 90'+1' (Yellow)

- Referee: Yusuke Araki
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

The below article is what I wrote for TheCup.US for the game, which was published there (with some editorial adjustments by the TheCup.US personnel).

Detroit City and Indy Eleven were the lone USL Championship vs USL Championship matchup in the Round of 16, guaranteeing that a team from the Division II league would make it into the quarterfinal round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the 7th consecutive year, and 15 of the last 16 tournaments. However, New Mexico United and Sacramento Republic beat Detroit and Indy to that honor by beating NYCFC II from MLS Next Pro and San Jose Earthquakes from MLS, respectively. 

Detroit reached the Round of 16 by defeating MLS’s Houston Dynamo, the tournament’s defending champions, after coming from behind to send the game to extra time after a 3-3 draw. It then took all 30 minutes of extra time and 20 penalty kicks when Houston’s goalkeeper Tarbell pushed his attempt wide, and DCFC’s goalkeeper Saldaña finished his attempt down the middle to send the defending champs home. Indy Eleven’s path was smoother as they defeated San Antonio FC 2-nil thanks to early goals from Williams and Blake.

Tonight’s U.S. Open Cup match between Detroit City FC and Indy Eleven marks the third time this season that the league foes have already played each other. Indy came out the victors in a 3-1 preseason affair in late February. In an early season matchup a month later, Detroit City flipped the script and pulled a late-game 2-1 winner in the 88th minute thanks to Maxi Rodriguez. The teams came into tonight’s game even in points in the USL-C Eastern Conference table, but with Detroit City having games-in-hand due to a less cluttered early season schedule. Since the two teams faced each other on March 30th, Indy has played 7 league games while Detroit City has played 5 games. While Indy is in the midst of a stretch of 3 games in 8 days, Detroit City hasn’t played since May 11th and don’t have their next game until May 29th. Clearly the teams came into this game with different needs for managing player’s bodies. 

They also came into the game as different teams than when they faced each other in March. Detroit has gone 2W-2D-1L in league play since the March matchup, while Indy came into the game on a 7-game unbeaten streak across all competitions after taking a couple of bad beatings from Louisville City and the Charleston Battery. Indy’s confidence in their recent run-of-form versus Detroit City’s confidence of having beaten an MLS side to reach this game was what was at play tonight. It was Indy’s confidence that won the night as they defeated Detroit by a score of 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Starting lineups from both teams showed that they were taking the game seriously, with players that they would use in a normal league game. The teams had all the appearances of playing this game like a league playoff game. In early action, both teams looked to put themselves on the front foot to try and get an early lead. A breakaway for Detroit led to a tangling of feet, a yellow card to Indy’s Ofeimu, and a free kick for Detroit from just outside the 18-yard box. The kick was blocked by the wall, but the yellow card to Ofeimu put pressure on Indy’s back three to prevent a scenario where they were playing down a man, which generally spells defeat for teams in knockout games. 

As the game approached the quarter hour, Indy’s Mines sent a pass to an overlapping Ofeimu on the right side of the pitch, who promptly sent a cross to the six-yard box towards Martinez. The ball didn’t reach Martinez, but instead ricocheted off of Detroit’s Carroll to get the scoring started for the home team. It would be difficult to say the goal was completely against the run-of-play, but much of the play up to the goal had been in Indy’s defensive end, but generally in non-threatening positions. The goal by Indy ramped up Detroit’s pressure as they looked to immediately bring the game back to level.

Just shy of the 22-minute mark, Detroit finally and cleanly broke through the middle of the Indy lines and forced Sulte into a low stretching save to prevent Morris from finding that equalizing goal. The goal was pushed to his left and out for a corner kick that was cleared away by Indy. At this point in the game, Morris and Rodriguez were pulling the strings in the center of the pitch, but the team couldn’t get clean shots on target.

The lack of ability to get on the board came back to haunt Le Rouge as Indy tacked on goals in the 33rd and 35th minutes. For the first goal, after a series of corner kicks from both teams, Indy recycled a ball that Blake put over the top as both Martinez and Williams beat the offside trap. Martinez one-touched the ball to Williams who slotted it past Saldaña to double Indy’s lead. Two minutes later and yet another corner kick for Indy resulted in a headed goal from Ofeimu from Stanley’s back post kick.

In the remaining 10 minutes, Detroit continued to dominate possession, but Indy was content to sit back and absorb some of that pressure to prevent the late goal from Detroit that would give have given the visitors some life and momentum going into the halftime locker room. As the half progressed through the 3 minutes of stoppage time, Detroit forced Indy into intense defending and spectacular saves from Sulte. A 7th corner kick in the first half for Detroit as time was expiring nearly found the left side of the goal, but Sulte blocked the shot up into the air, and then punched the resulting ball out of bounds, allowing Indy fans to take a deep breath as referee Araki blew his whistle for the halftime break. On the flipside, a raucous Detroit contingent of fans was left wondering what changes Dichio would have in store to get their team back into the game after watching the first half largely take place in Indy’s defensive side of the pitch, but sitting in a large hole.

Detroit immediately made substitutions out of the locker room, taking off Levis and Rodriguez for Villanueva and Bezerra, respectively. A surprising substitution bringing Rodriguez off given his importance to the recent Open Cup result. Indy, contrarily, despite the fixture congestion this week, stayed with the starters to open the second half.

There didn’t appear to be any major tactical changes for Detroit with the substitutions as they continued to try and play through the center of the pitch, looking for moments when they could unbalance the Indy midfield and defenders. The corner kicks continued to mount for the visitors, but continued to be off on their delivery. 

Around the 60th minute, the physicality took another step up as the referee’s early lack of whistle translated to players realizing that the minor fouls called during league play were not going to be whistled today. The Indy players felt aggrieved when Matthews purposefully kicked Martinez after a corner kick. Then Amoo-Mensah picked up a yellow card in the 61st minute after a hard challenge to even the card count briefly before Blake picked up Indy’s second yellow card seconds before he was substituted out of the game. 

The remainder of the game took on a much different pace as Detroit began to look like they realized it wasn’t their night and Indy was content to defend to keep a clean sheet and counterattack when possible. Indy’s manager McAuley continued his trend of substituting in his normal substitution windows to manage his player’s minutes looking ahead to their match on Saturday against Phoenix Rising. Indy could be described as efficient in their offense in the first half and they let it carry them to the victory tonight. Indy Eleven’s manager McAuley had this to say about that efficiency:

“We were dangerous when we needed to be. We scored three goals and we had a chance to get another couple. Everybody knows their role, of what we want them to do, where to be at the right time, and what to do defensively. It’s people know their jobs, and once they know their jobs, you ask yourself ‘can they do their jobs?’ Currently the form is showing, yeah they can. When you win the ball back, you know you’ve got the opportunity to create numbers up in spaces they’ve left, and I thought we did that really well. Efficiently, in the first half.”

Indy and Detroit will face off yet again this season in league play so this rivalry will once again be on display later this year. For the night, though, in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Indy Eleven took the victory and move onto the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time in club history, joining the Indianapolis Inferno, in 1992, as the second team from Indiana to reach the quarterfinal round of the tournament. Much has been documented recently about Indy Eleven’s stadium and MLS controversy, but the Indy fans can take solace in the fact that their team is proceeding through the U.S. Open Cup with a series of games without conceding a goal. Their opponent in the quarterfinals will be determined tonight when the draw occurs.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I'm splitting hairs here for tonight's GBGB because honestly I would like to give it to much of the midfield. They did a very good job with Detroit's tactical adjustment for this game to play through the center of the park and force the midfielders to make good decisions. However, Ofeimu gets the edge because he picked up an early yellow card that could have been costly in the physical nature of this game, but stayed clean the rest of the way. He scored a goal and had the unofficial assist on Own Goal's goal that opened the scoring. Very solid shift and he gets him tonight's GBGB.

Photos (Don Thompson Photography)


DM said...

Great recap! I'm pretty new fan and have been looking for an Indy Eleven blog with regular content.

Drew said...

Welcome DM! I usually take a fairly big break during the off-season, but I have regular content here for both the men's and women's teams.

When (maybe now if) the women start in the USL Super League, my winter hiatus will disappear.

DM said...

Right on. Just having regular game recaps is already great.