Sunday, June 16, 2024

Indy Eleven vs San Antonio FC - 11.15


- Opponent: San Antonio FC
- Location: Carroll Stadium
- Attendance: 10,491
- Final Score: 1-0 W

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

- Substitution: Wootton 60' (Guenzatti); Collier 73' (Mines); Gibson 90' (Blake)

- Unused: Oettl, Henderlong, Ikoba, Schneider

- Scoring Summary:
IND - Own Goal 29' (Burks)

- Bookings:
IND - Ofeimu 2' (Yellow)
SA - Taintor 32' (Yellow)
SA - Chol 50' (Yellow)
IND - Mines 52' (Yellow)
SA - Gomez 54' (Yellow)
IND - Chapman-Page 79' (Yellow)

- Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
- Adage goals: None

Thoughts and Opinions

Thanks to the U.S. Open Cup, Indy and San Antonio had the rare opportunity for multiple interconference matchup games against each other in a season without it being a playoff game. Indy faced off against San Antonio in early May in the USOC Round of 32, coming away from the Sellick Bowl with a 2-nil victory behind goals from Blake and Williams in the first 10 minutes of the game. Including that earlier game against San Antonio, since that May 8th victory, Indy has scored 17 goals in all competitions and have conceded just 4, getting 3 clean sheets in the process. Indy is on a 5 game home win streak, a 7-game win streak in league play, a 9-game win streak across all competitions, and an 11-game undefeated streak. Conversely, in that same timeframe, San Antonio has just 1 win and a record of 1W-1D-4L and hovering just above the Western Conference's playoff line. To use an Ocean's Eleven joke, "apparently, he's [they've] got a record [injury report] longer than my... well, it's long." Their injury report is longer than any report I have seen in quite some time. Eight players were listed on their report, forcing San Antonio to suit 5 Academy players for their substitutes. It's hard to overcome that level of unavailable players very often.

Despite their limited bench, San Antonio took the early part of the game to Indy, spending a significant amount of time in Indy's defensive half. On a night where the temperature at the starting whistle was hovering higher than 80-degrees, it's a reminder that San Antonio are used to these temperatures.

Just before the 15th minute, Chapman-Page's right arm was hanging out away from his body when a shot was blasted off of his arm. The handball rule can be a tricky one, as it was definitely ball to hand because it would have been nearly impossible for him to get his arm away from contacting the ball due to the proximity of the shot, but if a referee doesn't call that one, they'll never call a handball. It was whistled for a penalty kick and without much protestations from the Indy players about the actual call. However, when the penalty was awarded, the Indy players were irate about a high boot from SA that wasn't called that happened in the build-up to the shot that resulted in the penalty kick, when the same infraction by Ofeimu resulted in a yellow card in just the 2nd minute. Hernandez stepped up and went to his right. Unfortunately for him, but good for Indy, Sulte went to that same side making the save. As Sulte collected the ball and picked himself off the turf, you could nearly hear Indy fans throughout Carroll Stadium saying "ball don't lie." The save allowed Indy to stay in the game, and shows how well things are going for Indy right now during this run. Sure it helps when your goalkeeper is 6'-7", but he still needed to go the correct direction and make the save.

Fifteen minutes of back-and-forth action eventually led to a corner kick from Indy. The resulting service from Stanley was redirected nicely into Indy's Burks. Stanley's continued great service once again led to an Indy goal. It just wasn't an Indy player that found the ball first. In 15 minutes, Indy went from appearing that they were going to have to chase the game to being ahead. LaCava found a shot less than 10-minutes later that was textbook way to break a defensive line, but Sulte once again came up big with a kick save that took more of San Antonio's steam away from them. San Antonio's own goal was the difference between the teams as they went into the halftime locker. Looking at the halftime stats, SA could feel a bit upset that they were behind at the break as most of the stats were skewed their direction.

San Antonio's deficit and lack of bodies on the bench began to show itself in a physical way and they tried to just make the game ugly. Yellow cards starting to be shown more, sometimes in the wrong direction. Mines' yellow card resulted because he threw a player to the ground that had placed a shoulder into Mine's chest when Adam Kilpatrick, the referee, was looking elsewhere. It's always the second player that gets caught, and by itself, Mine's infraction could have resulted in a red card. The yellow card wasn't the correct call, but it was a fortunate one, that allowed Indy to stay at full strength.

As the half progressed, Indy tilted the field in their favor, but couldn't find the insurance goal to put San Antonio away. The precarious advantage was nearly undone by Chol in the 80th minute when he brought down a ball from Hernandez behind the Indy back line, but lifted his shot just over the bar into the top of the goal. Much like the "ball don't lie" feeling after the penalty save, a collective "whew" could be felt from the Indy fans.

When the fourth official raised the board and showed the stadium that there would be an additional 5-minutes of stoppage time, Indy fans had no idea they would spend the entirety of that time on the edge of their seat, hoping that their team could prevent a goal from San Antonio and see out the victory. Indy Eleven had to weather a barrage of corner kicks, a couple of them arguably unnecessarily, as San Antonio made a final push to equalize and Indy had difficulty clearing the ball. In two minutes of game time, Indy faced not one, not two, not three, but four corner kicks. Just as time was about to expire, Burks, who was responsible for the Own Goal, nearly made up for his earlier mistake with a shot from well outside the box that he dragged just barely wide of goal. An outstretched Sulte might have been able to get to it had it been on frame, but another "whew" from Indy fans could be felt throughout the stadium. San Antonio knew that was their last chance, and the final whistle was blown shortly after Sulte kicked the ball back into play. 

Indy extends all the streaks. With upcoming games against Orange County, Rhode Island, and Loudoun, all teams hovering around their respective playoff cut lines, it's amazing to think that Indy could realistically continue those streaks until Indy faces Tampa Bay on July 20th and in the process tie the club record for undefeated streak set by the benchmark team for club success, the 2016 squad that made it to the NASL Soccer Bowl. 

Indy has won in multiple different ways during this undefeated streak and tonight was more of the same. It wasn't completely pretty and nobody from Indy scored a goal, but much like the women's game earlier this week, it took a gritty performance to come away with the win. Indy will, probably, lose at some point, but this undefeated streak is enjoyable if a bit nerve-wrecking to watch at times.

Indy return to The Mike next week to play another Western Conference opponent in Orange County.

The Game Beckons Game Ball
C'mon man! You all know who gets tonight's GBGB. Two shots on target. Two saves. One a penalty kick save and the other a kick save on a breakaway. The man with a very vocal preteen/teen girl fan club gets the GBGB.

Photos - Don Thompson Photography

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