Sunday, June 9, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Birmingham Legion - 11.14

Summary

- Opponent: Birmingham Legion
- Location: Protective Stadium
- Attendance: 
- Final Score: 1-0 W

- Starting XI: Sulte, Ofeimu, Chapman-Page, Diz Pe, Stanley, Lindley (C), Mines, Blake, Guenzatti, Martinez, Williams

- Substitution: Wootton 45' (Martinez); O'Brien, J. 70' (Diz Pe); Collier 80' (Williams); Gibson 80' (Blake)

- Unused: Oettl, Boudadi, Schneider

- Scoring Summary:
IND - 34' Blake (penalty kick)

- Bookings:
IND - Indy Bench 90'+2' (Yellow)

- Referee: Natalie Simon
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Alex Crognale, Tyler Pasher, Stefano Pinho. The Birmingham roster has a definite Indy flavor, but #IndyForever only applies outside the 90-minutes of the match. However much Indy fans love the club's second highest goal scorer, Pasher, and a top 10 club scorer, Pinho, doesn't score against Indy, that's a success.

In the early stages of this game, Indy actually looked like last year's Lowry-coached team. Plenty of possession, balls cycled around the Indy back three, and the team probing the Birmingham defense instead of trying to go over the BHM backline. Birmingham held the early possession, but as Indy settled into the game, they brought the possession percentage closer as they looked to find a way through the BHM defense.

Shortly after the hydration break, Mines took a ball to the endline that the BHM defenders argued had crossed over the line before crossing the ball to the penalty spot. Stanley made an awkwardly acrobat half bicycle kick and went back in the direction from where it came instead of towards goal, but the ball bounced off Rufe's hand. So the cross that went over the penalty spot, finished at the penalty spot as referee Natalie Simon pointed to the spot. Blake stepped over the ball, sent Van Oekel the wrong way, and opened the game's scoring with his 8th league goal of the season and 5th penalty kick. 

Blake's penalty kick held for the rest of the half, giving Indy the lead going into the locker room. Despite Birmingham's protestations of Mine's cross that preceded the goal, the replay showed that the AR was in perfect position to see the play and, I believe, made the correct no-call. Wootton replaced Martinez immediately after the halftime break, which often indicates an injury of some kind. Diz Pe left the game in the 70th minute with an apparent hamstring injury, so Indy's injury list could be adding a couple players after tonight's game.

Second half shots
The teams finished even in the second half thanks to 5 saves from Van Oekel (8 total for the game) and a shot from Etaka that ricocheted off the crossbar and away from danger. Indy was the better team on the night and deserved the win to extend their win streak to 7 in the league, to 9 in all competitions, and their undefeated streak to 11 in all competitions. It's amazing how long the streak has continued for Indy and they still can't crack the top 2 of the Eastern Conference table because of how well Louisville and Charleston have started the season. However, after Indy's 1W-1D-4L to start the season, the fact that they are even within arms reach of those two teams proves how well they are playing right now.

Indy return to Carroll Stadium on the 15th to play San Antonio, who they have already beaten earlier this year in the U.S. Open Cup. San Antonio is entrenched in a very crowded middle of the table in the Western Conference, but they're going to want to make amends for their earlier season loss. Indy's recent form, particularly at home, should still give them the advantage despite having recently seen San Antonio. 

The Game Beckons Game Ball
When the team is on the kind of run they are right now, it's clearly a team effort. To achieve one of their rare clean sheets, "defense starts with the offense," but sometimes "defense starts with defense." The back three have been an integral part of this run, with some adjustments to the starters between games. While O'Brien has played well, I think tonight's introduction of Chapman-Page added a level of physicality that edges him for tonight's GBGB. He had some timely tackles, some of them on the razor edge of being incorrect, but that's what we're going to get from him. He goes all out and sometimes he gets it wrong. Tonight, though, he got nearly all of them right. 3 tackles, 4 clearances, and by far the most touches of the back line. He even had a shot on target. So while this win was a good team win, I think Chapman-Page deserves the GBGB for a man of the match type performance. 

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