Sunday, May 26, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Phoenix Rising - 11.12


- Opponent: Phoenix Rising FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium 
- Attendance: 10,066
- Final Score: 2-1 W

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

- Substitution: Collier 61' (Williams); Gibson 61' (Lindley); Mines 61' (Boudadi); Wotton 71' (Guenzatti); O'Brien, E. 82' (Blake)

- Unused: Oettl, Schneider

- Scoring Summary:
PHX - 19' Hernandez (assist Zambrano)
IND - 26' Blake (Penalty Kick)
IND - 64' Blake (unassisted - free kick)

- Bookings:
PHX - Hernandez 27' (Yellow)
PHX - Scearce 32' (Yellow)
IND - Lindley 41' (Yellow)
IND - Boudadi 45'+2' (Yellow)
PHX - Wyke 50' (Yellow)
IND - Blake 57' (Yellow)
PHX - Rios Novo 62' (Yellow)
IND - O'Brien, E. 90' (Yellow)

- Referee: Calin Radosav
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

For everybody that managed to make it all 5 games for the club for both the women's and men's teams...

Congrats! We made it! We completed the #IronFan (thanks @Indy11SouthEnd for that hashtag!).

Phoenix come to Indy as the reigning USL Championship winners, but come into town with a similar record as the Eleven; 5W-2D-4L for Indy, 4W-3D-4L for Phoenix. Much like Indy, Phoenix struggled to find their footing early in the season after the departure of their manager, former Indy Eleven player, Juan Guerra after he left for an assistant coach role at Houston Dynamo. While Indy won on Wednesday in their USOC game, Phoenix fell to MLS side Seattle Sounders by a score of 2-1.

Momentum and belief are important factors for teams. After Indy's humbling defeats against Louisville and Charleston, Indy hasn't seen a defeat in any competition. After Phoenix lost to Pittsburgh in late April, they too have only the loss against Seattle. Home cooking for Indy is helpful, while Phoenix have travelled all over the country this week. Indy's "easier" win midweek also allowed them to manage minutes and legs, something that McAuley has mentioned multiple times this year regarding squad rotation being accomplished in game versus between games.

While the game promotion for Indy was Racing Indy Night, the game was by no means a track meet. Indy had just a few counterattacks as Phoenix held the possession, but did so with slow movements instead of many quick attacks of Indy's defense. The Rising eventually found a corner kick in the 19th minute that Hernandez put past Sulte in one of Hunter's recent rare mistakes. Sulte misjudged the corner kick and the ball floated over his outstretched 6'-7" frame directly to Hernandez on the back post. As well as he has played in recent games, he's still just a 21-year old who is here to get minutes and will be subject to the occasional mistake.

The goal for Indy picked up their pace, not wanting the undefeated streak to come to an end at home in front of their home fans. The resulting uptick in effort shifted the line of confrontation to much further in PHX's defensive half of the pitch. The additional effort quickly led to a foul from Phoenix in their own box when Blake was taken down as he made his run towards goal. A quick point to the spot from referee Radosav gave Indy an opportunity to get back into the game. Blake brushed off the turf, stepped up to the spot, and leveled the game with a shot down the middle of the goal.

Just before the halftime whistle, the racing theme began to show itself as the game went end-to-end for a stretch, but Phoenix realized that was not the way they needed to play this game on their tired bodies and resorted back to putting their foot on the ball to bring the game back to a snail's pace. Headed into the locker room, Phoenix had to believe that they were the winners of the half, despite the tied score line and conceding the penalty kick. They played the way they wanted to play, exactly at the pace that they needed. Coach McAuley thought the guys looked a little tired during the Detroit game on Wednesday, and I don't think the first half of tonight's game was going to change their impression. 

As the teams came out of the locker room, Phoenix made immediate substitutions. Indy, as expected, stayed with the starting eleven. Coach McAuley has shown all season that he is going to stick with his starters until around the 60th minute mark. As the pace continued to be dictated by PHX, the second half looked like both teams were tired and were just trying to see the week out.

Moments after the substitution, Collier put pressure on Rios Novo who left his box to try and eliminate the pressure from the 6'-4" New Zealander. When Martinez intercepted the ball and put it on frame, Rios Novo was judged to have handled the ball giving Indy a free kick about 25-yards from goal. Blake stepped up, put the ball low and around the wall, and snuck it between Rios Novo and the post to put Indy ahead for the game winner.

The win gives Indy a 5-game win streak in league play and 6 unbeaten. Including the USOC games, the team is on a 7-game win streak and 9 unbeaten. The 5-game league win streak matches the club record set in the 2019 season. The club record for league undefeated streak is still a bit far away as the 2019 team had a 10-game undefeated streak, and the 2016 team started the season on a 13-game undefeated streak, but extended that even further to 16 games if you include the two USOC games and a friendly against Pachuca. The friendly doesn't count towards official stats and the team lost the second of the USOC games in penalty kicks but it goes down officially as a draw. Regardless, the 2016 team was a hard team to beat. All that to say that the run this team is on is reaching club record streaks (on the men's side...).

Speaking of the 2016 team, with his minutes tonight, Tyler Gibson moved up one spot to 9th in club history for minutes played to sandwich himself ahead of Jon Busch and just behind Vukovic. He hasn't had the number of minutes this season that we've seen from him in the past, but I think part of that is just a crowded midfield with more players than positions. I'm extremely interested to see how things change when Quinn returns from his injury, further adding to that crowded midfield. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Blake. A brace on a perfect penalty kick and a stunning free kick from outside the box. That will get the GBGB nearly every time.

Photos (Don Thompson Photography)

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