Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don't panic: Indy Eleven unveil new Adidas kits.

Credit: Indy Eleven

By: Brian Cook

Long rumored to be coming, Indy Eleven have made their next step as a club by ditching the Diadora kits of old and ushering in a new era with the introduction of Adidas as kit manufacturer. No news on the length of the deal or other details (like how often, if ever, we could expect updated kits in the future) but the new kit brings the club another step toward on and off the field growth.

Adidas gives a new flavor to those tracking the boys in blue as the brand is prominent with and liked by many American fans. Many didn't know a terrible amount about the Italian brand Diadora, but Adidas is a household name and should provide a superior quality product than the previous manufacturer.

Change Can Be Painful

With the change in brands also comes a change in design. Obviously change can come swiftly, and, occasionally painfully as many will feel with the lack of checkers on the new kit.

The checkers, while insignificant for the outsider, have been a calling card to the grassroots origins of the team. It's repeated often, but Indy Eleven grew inside a community that was organized and strong and helped bring the entire club up. The checkers represent something that many of the supporters take much pride in.

The move to Adidas and the general reaction of the dropping of the checkers and the introduction of the pinstripes is display of what young sports teams would call "growing pains." Growing pains coming from fans who have been here from day zero and are now watching a club with the ambition and desire to play at the highest (and most corporate) level make difficult decisions that some may feel abandon what the club was founded on.

It's not to say that the club itself is losing it's grassroots philosophy and is fully embracing their potential MLS overlords; but, in order for the club to get out of the shadow of their current (and struggling) league it has to start forging it's own path and making it's own moves in order to give itself stability for it's future.

It's a difficult decision that had to be made. For now, let's remind ourselves that this club is still our club. It's still the club that plays in our city. It's the club that saw it's first silverware and saw the owner of the club walk it through the West End. It's a club that has often sought to deliver the best match day experience to helped fans. It's a club that's given us tears of joy and sadness. But most of all, it's Indiana's professional soccer team and for that we can be proud of this significant move.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Unbeaten and unsatisfied: Indy Eleven vs SF Deltas Review (4/22/17)

Solid play from Marco Franco and Colin Falvey helped earn Indy their first clean sheet of 2017.

By: Caleb Ramp

The start of the 2017 NASL season has been frustrating for supporters of Indy Eleven. Spoiled, perhaps, by the ease in which they would dismantle teams at home in the latter stages of last season -- outscoring opponents 25-5 in the fall season. 


Four draws from four matches (including a squandered 2-0 lead) have left many trying to determine who or what to blame. Being held scoreless at home for the first time in the Tim Hankinson era only adds fuel to the fire. 

Soccer is a game of thin margins, however. If a few pivotal moments thus far had gone Indy's way -- had Braun's third goal against Puerto Rico not been disallowed, or had any number of painfully close chances from Indy's forwards this season found their target -- the narrative would undoubtedly be different.


The impact of key injuries should also be taken into account -- though it could be argued that the very apparent lack of depth (especially when compared to last season) is a failure in and of itself.

Broken Wings:

Injuries to Don Smart and Ben Speas (both expected to miss another few weeks, per Tim Hankinson) resulted in Gerardo Torrado and Craig Henderson starting on the outside of a 4-4-2 diamond. 
Unsurprisingly, neither looked particularly comfortable. 

Torrado, to his credit, linked up well with Sinisia Ubiparipovic (who found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in 2017) -- but the Indy attack repeatedly fizzled in the final third. After the game, Hankinson criticized the number of unnecessary touches and low-percentage passes the Eleven had taken: "We weren't thinking productively enough."

On the right, Henderson had a game to forget. Turnovers, misplayed passes, inaccurate cross attempts, and defensive errors plagued him from the opening whistle. The absence of Don Smart -- and the lack of a suitable replacement -- dramatically limited the area of the pitch San Francisco was tasked with defending. Unable to find consistent success through the midfield, Indy often opted to bypass it altogether -- a less-than-ideal strategy when playing into wind gusts of 20+ MPH.


LEFT: Ben Speas and Don Smart vs SF Deltas (3/25/17)
RIGHT: Gerardo Torrado and Craig Henderson vs SF Deltas (4/22/17)

It's not all bad for the Boys in Blue, though. Despite doing so in a fairly unimpressive fashion, drawing the Deltas meant setting an NASL record with 20 unbeaten home matches, and the extended 16-game Spring season grants Indy a bit more time than usual to get healthy.


Four games, four draws -- but only four points from the top of the table. League-leading Jacksonville Armada await.

That's a new one.



Post-Game Audio (with Tim Hankinson):





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Saturday, April 22, 2017

ShambleMetrics: Betting Picks and Preview (W5 2017)


Format: Each betting line is assigned a star (★) rating. For the purposes of ROI calculation, each star corresponds to a single unit.

Week 3: 2-2-0 (OVR: 8-3-1 / +11.73 units / +31.69% ROI)


Favorite Lines and ShambleMetrics:


Miami FC to win (-130, ): Finding any kind of consistency continues to be a struggle for Carolina -- showcased once again by being on both sides of a 3-1 result in back-to-back weeks.

No team lost more on the road in 2016 than Carolina (68.75%), and a rested Miami squad should prove too much to handle. We successfully faded NCFC away from home against the Deltas, and we'll do so again here.

New York Cosmos -1 (-115, ): While I'd love to see Jacksonville's surprising start continue, expect this week to be a harsh reality check. It's tough to fault a team with three clean sheets in as many games, and the Armada defense might even be good enough to keep them off the bottom of the table (though I have my doubts) -- but they offer very little in the final third. 

Until they score a goal that isn't gifted to them by the free-falling Eddies, I'll continue to be skeptical.


Predictions:



We're tracking these predictions in a points-based system throughout the season: 3 points for correct game result, 1 point for each correct score (by team), and 1 additional point for a perfect game.

Current Standings:

Caleb: 32
Brian: 26
James: 21
Brandon: 18
Jordan: 18
Mark: 10


Have any questions about any of the numbers or terminology found in this post? Reach out to @CalebRamp on Twitter.

Remember: All gambling and betting line discussion is for entertainment purposes only. If you do choose to gamble, be sure to do so legally and responsibly.


Don't forget to follow Bloody Shambles on Twitter, and like us on Facebook!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Indy Eleven's Silk and Linen Year

If you want a sip get a paper water fountain glass,
How I'm s'posed to know where your mouth been last?
By: Mark D Anderson

Is it just me, or does this year feel different?  Between the eventful offseason:  tensions in the socio-political stratosphere, the near-death experience of the NASL (and it’s impending doom, or mercy kill, depending how you see the world), and that awkward #Indy2MLS bid announcement where our Supporters groups essentially said “we don’t care about MLS”, before quickly realizing that may be the team’s only way to longevity. This year just feels different.

The roster remained mostly intact.  We saw more change in the front office than the field as some beloved friends (pouring one out for Koluder, Dunmore, and even you Kristaps Putelis, as I write) made way for the changes of the future.  The Brickyard Battalion gameday experience is still the best in the league - no matter how hard IU Campus Police try to play grown-up (at least some things haven’t changed).  But it all feels… different.

How do you describe a shift in a community's energy?  We have matured, along with our team.  Some great people have stepped up inside the BYB, bringing with them new ideas.  Our level of play is tenacious as we now expect from Hankinson’s squads.  We remain undefeated at The Mike and if your money isn’t on 1-point in away games you need to meet my bookie.  But it feels different.

US Soccer did everyone a great disservice by granting two leagues division-two status.  Finally they had their opportunity to make lasting, positive change to the structure of footy in the United States, and they balked.  They copped out.  They didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or deal with the impending lawsuits and instead banished all of division-two to a year in purgatory.  So it goes.

As a result, Ersal brought the gumption to apply for MLS.  Whether MLS approached him or not, he knows better than anyone what the future of this team holds.  In a ceremony of Instagram pomp and circumstance, he delivered the application.  And there was much tepidness.  Our Supporters groups, in typical Hoosier-resistant-to-change fashion, quickly launched a tepid rallying cry of “We Support this Team in Any League”.  And there was much tepidity.  If there were another way to use “tepid” to describe our reaction I would, because it’s one of the rare occasions where one word perfectly and fully encompasses an action. So it goes. There’s still time to get on board. Every time I see another team’s complications in their bid (Sacramento, St. Louis, etc.) it makes me wonder if Indy might, just maybe, be that fourth team bound for glory.  #Indy2MLS
Our second home game approaches this upcoming weekend.  We face the San Francisco Deltas for the second time (déjá vu? Purgatory?). I’ll be there with my grill, my crew, my pluto dog, my Battalion Ale.  We will sing, revel, and enjoy this beautiful Indiana spring that is upon us.  Our Boys in Blue will fight, none harder than JB17.  But in light of how we have all changed, it will still feel different.
I'm feeling alright I'm with my boys I'm with my troops, yea

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Puerto Rico FC V Indy Eleven REVIEW (04/08/2017)

Éamon Zayed scored his first of 2017 with an assist by Justin Braun

By: James Cormack

After a pretty successful 2016 season for Indy Eleven in NASL that saw them accomplish almost everything they could bar winning the final, it is important going into the 2017 season to recognize any areas that can be improved upon regardless of previous success.

Probably the most important improvement that could be made is our form away from home, add to that building a roster that can match or improve upon the successes of last year and then last but not least be more prepared for the beginning of the season and perhaps have a little better start.

Despite not having lost a game in their first three, it has not been an altogether stellar start for Indy Eleven. For whatever reasons Eamon Zayed has not started in the first two games, it has affected the way we have lined up, hopefully these issues are now resolved.

Injury issues have also hindered Indy from starting a recognizable back line, with captain Colin Falvey recovering from surgery and the loss of Greg Janicki and Cory Miller the Eleven have played through the first 180 minutes with an unfamiliar center back pairing.

Entering our third game of the 2017 season, Tim Hankinson again had to shuffle his lineup due to unforeseen circumstances. While it was a bonus to see Colin Falvey return to the starting eleven and Éamon Zayed also starting alongside Justin Braun in attack, injuries prior to the match saw the omission of Jon Busch, Ben Speas and Tanner Thompson.

As mentioned in our 2017 NASL Review my biggest long term worries for Indy Eleven are the lack of depth at center back and at left midfield. Ben Speas has proven to be one of the best off season signings so far, with one goal and an assist and seven chances created in only two games. It's a tough spot to fill for a team who parted ways with all of the players who gave time on the left side in 2016.

Tanner Thompson could easily be a choice for attacking midfield on either side of the field but unfortunately both Speas and Thompson were unavailable for the game giving Hankinson selection nightmares for the wings before and during the match. Add to that starting keeper Busch also sidelined, the situation heading into this match was far from ideal.

Indy Eleven draws a line in the sand....

Sorry I had to get a sand reference in there somewhere....

Indy Eleven welcomed back Colin Falvey to the starting lineup for the first time in 2017 along with Lovel Palmer at center back. This to me was a strange choice, Watson-Siriboe and Daniel Keller were dropped to the bench. Despite some obvious mistakes and having conceded 4 goals in two games, I would have liked to see Kwame given time alongside Falvey.

Marco Franco and Nemanja Vukovic started at left and right back per usual. Don Smart, Gerardo Torrado and Brad Ring were accompanied by Craig Henderson in midfield due to the absence of Ben Speas and in attack Justin Braun and Éamon Zayed started together for the first time in 2017.

Indy Eleven were able to list five outfield players alongside goalkeeper Cristian Lomelli on the bench, David Goldsmith, Daniel Keller, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Anthony Manning, and Siniša Ubiparipović all watched from the sideline.

One thing that is clearly apparent from watching Puerto Rico FC in these last two games is they are a vastly improved side from 2016. They are fast and clinical, their passing is sharp and their movement in attack is fluid, over the course of the game their finishing was luckily not much better than our own despite creating plenty of chances. They will be a danger to every team in this league as the season goes on.



Hector Ramos scored the opener and again plagued the Indy back line.

It took a little less than 20 minutes for that organization to find the back of the net in what was a goal that looked almost like a training ground rehearsal. A switch of play from right to left by Jairo Puerto found former Indy Eleven midfielder Walter Ramirez in the left corner of Indy Eleven's box. With plenty of time to control and gauge his pass the ball was slotted to center and Hector Ramos found a huge hole between Falvey and Palmer and easily swept the ball passed Keith Cardona to put Puerto Rico in the lead.

Where do you even start trying to figure out why that goal was so easy? For me the midfield has to take most of the blame, during this build up our approach to countering their attack was lackadaisical to say the least. After Kafari set up a pass for Jairo Puerto, Vukovic made no attempt to block the pass to Ramirez, Marco Franco was forced to stay and close the angle to prevent a shot, Don Smart turned up too late to have any affect on Ramirez and Ramos had no challenge or mark at the top of the box with Torrado jogging in after the shot was already released. 



What is going on here?

Maybe some will disagree, but despite our back four being the last line of defense, they were pretty much stranded by an extreme lack of urgency and effort from the Indy Eleven midfield. Brad Ring took up position at left back to cover for Vukovic, while recovering position the left back's responsibility was to close out that pass from Jairo Puerto, or at least put pressure on it. Even during Ramos's celebration there are still only seven outfield Indy players in our own half. We were taken apart by four players, three passes and a shot.


Within a few short minutes the game almost saw another two goals. An attempted header clearance on PRFC's right side dropped to Justin Braun in the center of the box but Braun could not get his body behind the ball enough to direct his header away from Spangenberg, the ball was spilled and Braun got a second bite with his foot but the ball went inches wide of the post.

Puerto Rico countered with a surging run from Jairo Puerto through the center of midfield, the Honduran managed to turn and find a pass to Hector Ramos who unleashed a blistering shot at Cardona who managed to save his head from being removed and palmed the ball back out into play.

As it looked like Puerto Rico would head into the half time break with a one goal lead, Indy Eleven proved as they have done many times before that every second of the clock can be used to turn things around. A long goal kick from Cardona which PRFC failed to intercept in a challenge with Zayed was picked up by Justin Braun, and he was able to settle the ball and slip it left to Éamon Zayed, this time it was Indy's #9 who comfortably pushed the ball past Spangenberg to put Indy level before half time.




Before this play Don Smart was withdrawn from the game due to injury concern and replaced by Siniša Ubiparipović, it's a worrying sign for Indy Eleven and Don would not be the only player to leave the game this way. Lovel Palmer was also removed from play in the 79th minute and replaced by Anthony Manning wearing Daniel Keller camoflage.

Colin Falvey made way for Kwame Watson-Siriboe in the 72nd minute meaning that Indy Eleven would start and finish the game with two completely different center back pairings. We will assume Colin Falvey was removed as precaution and had been given enough game time on his recovery from injury.

Both sides had numerous chances to find a winner in this game and Puerto Rico continued to apply ample pressure in the second half. Indy Eleven did very well to stop any further scoring and actually finished the second half looking stronger. The game ended 1-1 with Indy Eleven pulling out a third draw in three games and remaining undefeated. Considering our early season obstacles, again I would have settled for a point before this game kicked off.

Long or Short term reasons for concern?

As already said, my biggest concern right now is our lack of depth in the center back position and also the lack of time any of them have had to play together. It is early and there is time to get this right, but there is no denying that any further injury complication to Colin Falvey (God forbid) poses a very serious problem for Indy Eleven. 


Despite early hiccups I still feel with Falvey's leadership and Kwame's obvious physical presence and stature this should be our best pairing option. One replaced the other in this game so there has been no opportunity for them to play together.

Our options at left midfield are slim but not I feel as urgent a problem as that of our defense. Tanner Thompson and Ben Speas being injured at the same time was unfortunate as I feel Thompson could be an able replacement.

Overall I have seen enough from every player on the roster that leaves me feeling that Indy Eleven will be as good as and as strong as we were in 2016. It's going to take some time. Right now we look like a bomb with a very slow burning fuse and it is only a matter of time before we explode on an unsuspecting opponent, hopefully this happens in our next game.

We have come to a two week break without losing a game. We have injury problems but we have time to recover. We have plenty of game footage to pour over and pinpoint where mistakes have been made and work towards fixing them.

Indy have scored five goals in three games which is positive, we have conceded the same amount which is concerning, the last time we conceded three goals at home was in August of 2015. Tim Hankinson needs to find his preferred starting lineup available and make it work. If injury concerns continue to cause issues I do feel we need to add one or two more experienced players to the roster, preferably at left midfield and center back.

Otherwise I see nothing that gives me any huge concern that we are going to have a bad year, we have all the ingredients to provide another successful playoff team, we just need to get those pieces on the field at the same time and working together. We are one good game away from being settled and comfortable. No reason to panic at this moment in time.




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Saturday, April 8, 2017

ShambleMetrics: Betting Picks and Preview (W3 2017)


Format: Each betting line is assigned a star (★) rating. For the purposes of ROI calculation, each star corresponds to a single unit.

Week 2: 3-1-0 (OVR: 6-1-1 / +11.43 units / +49.68% ROI)


Favorite Lines and ShambleMetrics:


FC Edmonton vs Jacksonville Armada - Under 2.5 Goals (-140, ): Deja vu.

With an extremely high number of weekly rematches, the NASL schedule presents its teams (and us) with a unique challenge in 2017. These back-to-back replays are, in my opinion, the most difficult type of games to predict in soccer. 

Not only is it easy to fall victim to simply overvaluing the previous week's result, but there are a large number of intangible variables which can have a much larger role than they usually would. Individual and team tactical flexibility and adaptability impacting these fixtures may be obvious, but even something as simple as the ability to effectively get under your opponent's skin (I would expect to see an above-average number of cards this weekend) can -- and often will -- change the result.

In weeks like this -- particularly early in the season where our sample size is still so small -- finding a constant is key. 

Including last week, 27 of Edmonton's previous 32 matches have finished under 2.5 goals. Ride the wave. I strongly believe First Half Draw (+110, ★) to be worth a play as well.

Miami FC vs New York Cosmos - Both Teams to Score (-150), ): After successfully fading the Cosmos in the first two weeks of the season, we'll be relying on them to at least find the net in this one -- something they've failed to do thus far in 2017. Their opponent's net, anyway.

Placing this much confidence in a team with more own goals (1) than shots on target (0) might be toeing the edge of the gambler's fallacy ("they're due for it!"), but Gio Savarese is still one of the best coaches in North America. If nothing else, have faith in his ability to make effective adjustments. Even if they fail to get a result, expect them to put up a much better fight. 

San Francisco Deltas to Win (-110, ): I said before the season opener that sleeping on Marc Dos Santos and the Deltas would be a mistake. Here's where I put my (proverbial) money where my mouth was.

No team in the league lost more games on the road in 2016 than Carolina (68.75%). While their attack looks superb on paper, finishing problems plagued them against Miami. Defensive inconsistency appears to still be an issue as well.



Predictions:


We're tracking these predictions in a points-based system throughout the season: 3 points for correct game result, 1 point for each correct score (by team), and 1 additional point for a perfect game.

Current Standings:

Caleb: 13
Brian: 11
James: 10
Mark: 6
Brandon: 5
Jordan: 4



Have any questions about any of the numbers or terminology found in this post? Reach out to @CalebRamp on Twitter.

Remember: All gambling and betting line discussion is for entertainment purposes only. If you do choose to gamble, be sure to do so legally and responsibly.


Don't forget to follow Bloody Shambles on Twitter, and like us on Facebook!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Indy Eleven is holding out for a hero in their backline

Falvey was available for last Saturday's match against Puerto Rico
By: Brian Cook

If you watched Saturday's draw with Puerto Rico FC you witnessed what can only be described as the best and worst portions of soccer. You saw a high scoring game but for Indy Eleven fans you also saw fixable defensive mistakes. Mistakes that were the difference between an early - season defining game and one that may play a bigger role later on in the season. 

Regardless of the circumstances Indy were found to be unlucky Saturday as they lost a two goal lead and barely escaped with a point to show for their efforts. While nothing should be taken away from starting lineups for both games as they were clearly the top performing players for Indy so far, the first goal given up by the Eleven put a light over the huge missing piece in Indy's defensive efforts:

Colin Falvey.

Falvey, recovering from a late off season sports hernia surgery, was on the bench Saturday. While the circumstances weren't deemed difficult enough to warrant bringing on Falvey who, as was mentioned by Hankinson during the week, fresh enough for 20 minutes or there about the defense had struggled and let Puerto Rico slam them with their attack.

The buildup to the play in question that opened the flood gates for Puerto Rico's attack involved simple almost uncontested passes and finished up with Conor Doyle putting the ball in the back of the net



The goal, while skilled, gives you a great observation of the issues presented with the current backline for the Eleven. The ball seemingly floats into the box and Watson Siriboe acts as if he is stuck in quick sand watching as Conor Doyle snaps a shot into the left corner of the net.

Again, while only two games into the 2017 season the goal is a clear sign of the issues still facing the starting eleven for Indy. Daniel Keller and Kwame Watson-Siriboe have started both game and while it's clear they had earned the start based off of the Deltas game the result last Saturday spells more about the lack of communication and skill beyond the midfield.

For comparison, 2016 saw Indy Eleven play Tampa Bay Rowdies in Florida. The game took place on September third and the backline had little depth (no real defensive substitutions were available for the game). With Keller and Falvey lining up side by side in the center it was almost like they were stretched to help out on both sides of the backline.

Heatmap from IndyEleven.com

For clarification purposes, Daniel Keller was on the left hand side of that heat map and Falvey was next to Palmer on the right center defender portion. The heatmap can give you a good idea of not only where the players are on the field but in this case how wide they were able to cover together.

This is the heat map from the Puerto Rico game with Daniel Keller and Kwame Watson-Siriboe which shows considerably less amount of distance shared between the two but also a considerable hole between them that both Doyle and Ramos exploited:

Heatmap from IndyEleven.com

From this comparison it's more or less that Keller and Watson feel stuck and either aren't able to move out to help out or are not sure what will happen if they do. A feature of the lack of your obvious best defender and confidence boosters for other members of your backline being sidelined. 

This isn't to say that Daniel Keller and the first year boy in blue Kwame Watson-Siriboe are bad players. Nor is it a fist to throw at the leadership between the sticks of Jon Busch who has had his fair share of leadership advances for Indy since joining last year but there is a difference in the eye both statistically and on the pitch when you don't have the person who ties everything together. 

Going back to the play in question, a clear lack of marking which featured an astounding eight players watching as Conor Doyle placed the ball in the back of the net. Let's say that play again carries on the same way and instead of Keller or Watson you have Falvey. You may still see a shot on goal but based off of previous games and heat maps you would more than likely see a more fluid swapping of positions and communication. 

You would see, perhaps, Doyle go to hit the kick and instead of Watson watching the ball fly by him he's a half a foot over closer to the center of the net and is able to stop. You might see that Keller was able to close down on Doyle before he gets the shot off. You may even see Falvey himself on the ball and able to clear it away. 

Let's compare another match from 2016 which featured the highest quality centerback pairing since Indy Eleven began play. Greg Janicki's 2015 season was less than stellar which left many people confused when Hankinson chose to keep Janicki with the club heading in 2016. No one truly saw the impact that Falvey's arrival would have on Janicki's game and the partnership they formed was a huge part of 2016. 

The October 22nd match between year one club Puerto Rico FC and Indy Eleven saw one of the strongest showings of Indy Eleven. Not to be outdone by the scoreline when you investigate the centerback position and the heatmap for both Janicki and Falvey you see the strength of their partnership and the depth they were able to achieve from the position. 

Heatmap from IndyEleven.com

The heat maps provide incredible insight into not only how the teams layout over the course of 90 minutes but also the difference in how a back line not led by Colin Falvey performs. His insight, voice, leadership and direction was a pivitol part of the club's success in 2016. It's also clear from the San Francesco game that both Watson Siriboe and Keller are good centerback options but aren't able to lead the defense and provide depth beyond the basic skills of a centerback like Falvey is. Both players will improve with Falvey on the field. At this point it's unclear when you will see Indy Eleven's captain take the pitch in 2017 but after the match against Puerto Rico it's clear that the timetable for his return should be moved up if it can be.