Sunday, May 19, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Hartford Athletic - 11.11


- Opponent: Hartford Athletic
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 10,021
- Final Score: 4-1 W

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

- Substitution: Collier 64' (Williams); Ikoba 64' (Martinez); Wootton 64' (Guenzatti); Schneider 77' (Blake); Mines 84' (Boudadi)

- Unused: Oettl, Dindiyal, Gibson, Neidlinger

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Blake 3' (penalty kick)
IND - Ofeimu 45'+3' (unassisted)
IND - Martinez 54' (assist Stanley)
IND - Williams 58' (assist Boudadi)
HFD - Ngalina 80' (assist Epps)

- Bookings:
IND - Williams 11' (Yellow)
IND - Diz Pe 15' (Yellow)
HFD - Head Coach Burke 23', 90' (Yellow, Yellow, RED)
HFD - Vancaeyezeele 82' (Yellow)

- Referee: Elton GarcĂ­a
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

As hot as Indy has been lately, Hartford has been just as cold. Hartford came into tonight's game having lost 6 of their last 7 games, with their last victory coming on April 6th against Miami. Hartford has also either found victory or defeat. They have yet to get a draw in a game. This was a team that came to Indy needing to have something positive happen for them.

Photo: Don Thompson Photography
However, an early handball in the box by Vancaeyezeele, and the subsequent successful penalty kick, put the visitors behind with less than three minutes having passed on the referee's watch. When you're struggling to get results, and recently saw Louisville put a 6-spot on you, the early penalty kick was the last thing the Hartford players and fans wanted to see. Ribeiro went to his right, Blake went to his own right, so the ball and the keeper went in opposite directions. Even if Ribeiro had guessed correctly, it's doubtful he would have made the save as Blake's attempt was low and pinged off the post. That's a nearly impossible penalty kick to stop.

Hartford settled into the game after the goal and continued to pepper the Indy defense by putting themselves consistently in Indy's half of the field, but couldn't quite get any shots on target. They weren't quite able to convert that time in the half into shots on target. They did, however, require Indy to have some last-ditch defending from the backline and the midfielders.

As the half began to close, it became a game of transition for both teams. The teams finished the half with 24% long passes for Indy and 32% for Hartford. Indy doubled the amount of crosses of HFD with 18 to 9, but Hartford did well to consistently handle them. Hartford had their first official shot on target in the 45th minute, which Sulte extended and got low to get to the shot as it tried to get inside the near post. 

Indy then went down to the other end and found a stoppage time goal to double the lead from an Ofeimu goal from a corner kick. Stanley sent yet another brilliant ball into the six-yard box that pinged around a little including off Ribeiro and the underside of the crossbar, before Ofeimu put his foot to the ball to get it officially across the line.

As the teams went into the halftime locker room, Indy had been rewarded early and late for their consistent attacking pressure of Hartford's goal, while Hartford's pressure in Indy's half resulted in just a few good chances. With the way the half ended, the second half had the appearance of there being more goals in the game with Hartford needing to chase and Indy being to counterattack that effort.

The two first half goals from Indy wouldn't stand for very long. Indy scored their third goal in the 54th minute and then added salt to the wound by adding a fourth just four minutes later. To their credit, Hartford didn't completely roll over and continued to try and claw back a goal despite the four-goal deficit. While it took nearly all of the half and several substitutions by both teams, Hartford did find a 79th minute goal on a counterattack after a poor giveaway in the midfield by Schneider, preventing the clean sheet for Sulte.

With his assist tonight, Stanley has already moved into the Top 10 in assists in club history, now tied with Pasher, Speas, & Vuko. At his current pace (basically 1 every 2 games since the USOC games are counted in this total), everybody is within reach this season except for maybe Ayoze. To say that he's putting the ball in spots to make his teammates successful is an understatement. Stanley had 14 crosses and 6 chances created. The way he's putting the ball into good spots for the rest of the team, Williams, Martinez, Guenzatti, and basically everybody else, have to be looking at every cross as an opportunity to put their name on the score sheet. When I told him after the game that he had already moved into the Top Ten in club history for assists, he said, "that seems impossible." Looking at the players on the list above him and their durations with the club, his statement seems like logical. Though Indy hasn't much the highest scoring team in its history. For all that I liked about Coach Lowry, there were some low scoring games in his tenure. 

After the game, Coach McAuley said that he was disappointed the team didn't keep the clean sheet, but I'm starting to wonder if he really believes that. I mean, I think he would like to see his players receive the individual accolade for their effort, for Sulte and Oettl to be rewarded for their efforts, but I'm not sure he really cares about the clean sheet as long as the team wins. When he first came to Indy, he said he wanted this team to score goals. At no point in his introductory speech did he say he wanted this team to lead the league in clean sheets. Indy wins with a +3 goal differential, and that's a good result. A result that the opposing manager did want to stick around to see the end.

The first of the club's five games in 8 days is complete with a 4-1 dismantling of a team in poor form. The club return to action in just two days when the women's team takes on Kings Hammer at Grand Park for their home opener after having beaten Louisville this week. Indy men return to action on Wednesday as part of the U.S. Open Cup against Detroit City. Coach McAuley says is stressing to the team that they have to "make sure that we're not scared of being successful. Sometimes when you think the race is run, you go, that's me done. If you've never been there before. So we're going to go for it. I'm going to make sure that they understand that this is an unbelievable opportunity for us. And we've got to go for it."

With the form they're in right now, the Indy team that Detroit played earlier this season is not the same Indy team they are going to face on Wednesday. With a shot at the quarterfinals of the tournament on the line, I think both teams will be ready to play. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
I know I have never done this before, but I'm going to give the GBGB to Ribeiro. Yes, it's going to go to the opposing goalkeeper. Indy scored four goals and could have had more. Ribeiro had NINE saves. If not for that kind of effort, this would have been an even more lopsided score line. Sometimes you just have to reward a player for their effort no matter their team. So Ribeiro receives the first ever GBGB given to an opponent.

Additional Photos - Don Thompson Photography

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