Saturday, June 1, 2024

Indy Eleven vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - 11.13

Summary

- Opponent: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
- Location: Highmark Stadium 
- Attendance: 5,002
- Final Score: 2-1 W

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

- Substitution: Gibson 61' (Guenzatti); Chapman-Page 61' (O'Brien, J.); Wootton 68' (Lindley); Collier 68' (Blake); Schneider 84' (Martinez)

- Unused: Oettl, Henderlong

- Scoring Summary:
IND - 23' O'Brien, J. (assist Stanley)
IND - 46' Guenzatti (assist Williams)
PIT - 56' Griffin (unassisted)

- Bookings:
IND - O'Brien, J. 40' (Yellow)
IND - Stanley 51' (Yellow)
IND - Mines 59' (Yellow)
PIT - Busch 82' (Yellow) - Hey Jon!
IND - Collier 90'+2' (Yellow)
PIT - Diene 90'+3' (Yellow)

- Referee: Lorenzo Hernandez
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

After their 0-3 start, Bob Lilley's Riverhounds have somewhat righted the ship, losing just once in their last game against Memphis, and picking up 3 wins and 4 draws since those early defeats. Indy have also fixed their early struggles, currently sitting on a 5 game win streak in league play and a 9 game undefeated streak across all competitions. While the names on the jerseys change, the name on the Indy manager line changes, Lilley remains a constant in Pittsburgh, and these two teams always play a physical match. 

Pittsburgh dominated the first half in every way. To say that Indy's 23rd minute goal was against the run of play would be an understatement. Indy wasn't effective in their press, meaning that they weren't able to get their offense going, further meaning that they were defending through most of the opening frame. Pittsburgh held a 64% to 36% advantage in possession, and littered the Indy 18-yard box and goal with shots. Indy had just a single extremely wayward shot before they were able to get a corner kick goal from Josh O'Brien from an in-swinging kick from Stanley. With the goal, Indy continued their streak of getting at least one goal in every game this season. 

Indy immediately doubled their lead just after the halftime break when Stanley found Williams up the left sideline, who put a ball through the box to an on-rushing Guenzatti, who one-timed his shot past Dick. From looking like the better of the two teams to being two down within the first 47-minutes was not how Pittsburgh thought they would be coming out of the locker room to start the second half. 

If there's anything you know about a Bob Lilley team, they are not going to quit. As the game continued to be tilted in their favor, they cut the lead in half in the 57th minute when Griffin got Blake off his feet by faking a shot on his right foot, but pulled it back to his left foot. The shot from the right side of the box went through the box and past the outstretched arms to Sulte. Down a goal, at home, with the better run-of-play, Pittsburgh ratcheted up the pressure even further.

Surprisingly, Coach McAuley substituted out Guenzatti, Blake, and Lindley starting in the 61st minute and all before the 70th minute. With a pressing Pittsburgh team, removing all that experience in the midfield seemed like a surprising move for me. Gibson is obviously no slouch to come in to the game, but pulling all that experience, as well as changing out a centerback, was not one that I expected to see given how much Indy was defending in this game.

If you're a Pittsburgh fan or player, you can feel deservedly upset by this Indy Eleven win. The only places that Indy was better in this game was on the scoreboard and team defending. Indy managed just 6 shots, and only 2 on target. Luckily for them, Eric Dick didn't make a single save for the game. Otherwise, Pittsburgh looked like the more threatening team. Indy, on the other hand, will gladly take a victory in a difficult place to play, to continue their win and undefeated streaks.

Indy stay on the road next week at Birmingham before returning back to Carroll Stadium on June 15th against San Antonio, who they have already played and beaten earlier this year in the U.S. Open Cup. At some point, Indy will likely lose again, but when they are playing well, they play well, and when they aren't playing spectacular, they're getting fortuitous bounces and timely goals. That's a daunting proposition for opponents.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
Josh O'Brien scores his first goal to get the scoring started against the run-of-play to build the confidence in the team that even playing poorer than they would prefer, they're still giving themselves chances to win games. Sometimes you just have to reward the young guys for the unexpected offensive. 

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