Sunday, June 10, 2018

Indy 2 Tough 2 B Bothered By Atlanta United 2 - Indy Eleven V Atlanta United 2 REVIEW

Watson stripped Atlanta of the ball and opened the scoring for Indy (Photo: James Cormack)

By: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)

Indy Eleven took a good 30 minutes to feel out their guests, Atlanta United FC 2, in front of a crowd estimated by the team to have topped 10,000 people Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

And then the Eleven turned on the heat. 

Captain Matt Watson returned to the starting line-up just in time to score the critical morale-boosting goal around the 30th minute, after intercepting a mis-timed Atlanta pass at midfield and proceeding to cut past Atlanta keeper Paul Christensen, who was far upfield
 of his goal line, and taking one more cut wide around a final defender, before turning his hips back toward his opponent’s goal and using his less-favored, but better-situated left foot to drive the ball past the line to score.

With Brad Ring, Zach Steinberger and Ben Speas on the bench, the starting midfield featured Watson, Soony Saad, Juan Guerra, Nico Matern and Seth Moses, who earned his first start of the season.  Justin Braun played target striker and, from left to right, Ayoze, Karl Ouimette, Carlyle Mitchell and Kevin Venegas made up the back line.

Two members of that backline, Ayoze and Mitchell, combined nicely when a corner kick dished from the former connected with the perfectly timed running header of the latter, propelling the ball to the back of Atlanta’s net to bring the hosts a 2-0 lead 10 minutes
into the second half.

Carlyle Mitchell nodded home his first goal for Indy Eleven to bring the score to 2-0 (Photo: James Cormack)

When the ref signaled the game’s final whistle, the hosts managed to protect the win — and a clean sheet in the match (though Indy keeper Owain Fon Williams was a bit roughed up in stopping a last-minute drive into Indy’s box). All in all, a refreshing change of pace for Indy fans who had not had a home win since its May 5 win against Louisville City FC.

Another change of pace for the Indy lineup. Forward Eugene Starikov brought a refreshing intensity in his first appearance back at a home game since the season opener.

Picking a sprig of wild mint from a Fletcher Place patio about an hour before game time, the Pitch Bitch wondered if that vibrant shot of revitalizing aromatherapy could be teasing an emerging theme for the evening: Revitalization.

Reviewing the first-half notes, a refreshing theme does emerge: repeated examples of the team maintaining possession through a series of several passes, not rushing … working together to build. Furthermore, this possession was not mindless. When the team found itself within striking distance, players would shoot or drive into the opposition’s back line.

Seth Moses showed aggression and a different dynamic in midfield for Indy (Photo: James Cormack)

The Pitch Bitch game notes recorded several examples of these continuous building efforts in the minutes leading up to halftime:

* Indy threatens, is dragged down before cross sent pack in …
* Venegas manages to weave a cross through... Soony meets it, but couldn’t get a proper foot on it.

* Watson and Guerra had a promising moment only to have Atlanta keeper Christensen right on point.

* At 41: Indy makes a good team effort to work it around, then lost when they took too many touches, opting to dribble instead of making a quick pass. (But on the edge of the attacking third — which is where Indy was at this juncture, the risk of dispossession is worth the chance of a goal. Keep up the pressure, Indy! You are on the right track!)

The game marked the “best performance so far this season” from the Boys in Blue, according to Indy head coach Martin Rennie, who said he was happy to have a full week of training in before the evening’s match. Throughout May, the team had so many games, full training weeks were impossible, he added.

Coaches Rennie and Dos Santos prepare for Indy's first game of June (Photo: James Cormack)

The productive and energetic teamwork reflected the past week’s training, the coach said.

“In May, we didn’t really get to train because we had so many games*...a lot of the fundamental things that we’d worked on were not on show. And that’s not that surprising with new players. But we can’t revert back now that we’ve set the standard.”

Rennie is likely to look at the season’s first repeat lineup as he looks forward to the team’s next challenges: away games to Toronto and Nashville before returning home to host Penn FC on June 30.

“We’ve not been able to play the same lineup twice ever, so that would really help us,” Rennie said.

Working on other things, the team forgot about fundamental lessons players felt they had mastered early on. Now, they’re returning to their roots.

It means, according to Captain Watson, “back to basics, hard work.”

He summarized tactical issues his team faces and presented his ideas for improvement:

“When we sit back and don’t press the ball, we’re not very good.

“It’s mostly about making sure we are moving as a group .. sometimes we get spread out where the back line is really deep, the forwards are high, and the midfield is huge and we can’t cover the whole field. So it’s important that we talk.

Matt Watson showed how much he has been missed on Saturday against Atlanta (Photo: James Cormack)

“Communication is key. Sometimes I like to press. If I go, they’ll stretch the field. So, when I go, we all need to go. And press higher to make it harder for them to play balls in behind. Hopefully, we have a high line and can play them offsides. We’ve got great guys back there who can, if it goes over the top, get there first. It’s all about moving all around the field as a group. Something fundamental that we got away from …

“Is there a communication hierarchy when it comes to heat-of-the-moment communication on the field?” the Pitch Bitch asked Cpt. Watson.

“It’s situational on the field,” Watson said. “It’s about balance. Sometimes there’s not one right answer. Sometimes, if I go, people may say I’m wrong because I’m stretching the field, but if I win the ball like I did today … every play in soccer is situational, there’s not one right or wrong answer. You kind of look at it and say, ‘What’s best for the team? No one player is bigger than the team."

*The team played six USL games in May, plus its tragic loss to Mississippi Brilla in the US Open Cup.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Indy's Maiden Voyage Against Charleston Battery A Bit Rough - Indy Eleven V Charleston Battery REVIEW

Ayoze scored his third and fourth goals for the season, three from the penalty spot.

By: Rebecca Townsend, aka The Pitch Bitch 

Anyone who left the Indy Eleven game early on Wednesday night missed the evening’s most intense action: four goals were scored after the 80th minute, two within a minute of each other in stoppage time. 

In the end, visiting team Charleston Battery, left the field with an unsullied unbeaten streak, which now stands at 11. Indy, which held a 1-0 lead at halftime, was lucky to hold on to a 3-3 tie. 

Before proceeding to the meat of the match, let us first recognize that this Charleston Battery team that came from such a deficit to snatch victory away from the hosts in the final minute (or so) of stoppage time is coached by not just a product of Indiana University (where he was part of the 1988 NCAA national championship-winning squad), but a native son. Congratulations to Fort Wayne's own Mike Anhaeuser for bringing Indy a heck of a game! 

Now, deep thoughts on formations: "Who is the "2" in the supposed 4-4-2?" she wonders, because watching Indy defend Charleston building out of its backline usually meant watching Jack McInerney in a 3-or-4 on one situation as the rest of his teammates collapsed into a more compact hive clogging the central channels.

Jack McInerney as solitary forward has to cover a lot of ground and sometimes has to go get the ball himself.

This thought builds into a scribbled idea, "Indy does ok defending vertical channels, but when they go horizontal, they’re in trouble." This does not mean just the backline. This is a team-wide situation. It's part of how these weakside threats keep coming in unchecked. It means all opponents in Indy's defensive half need to be tracked; no weakside runs are unchecked. 

Please note: Somewhere between minute 25 and 32, Charleston almost nails Indy (with a bullet dodged — where? — on the far side). Lucky for Indy an unchecked weakside runner fails to connect meaningfully with his tasty, close-range volley opportunity. 

When Indy strikers aren't trying to harvest "Hail Mary" miracle passes from the sky, they also work hard to create open channels only to be snubbed. 

The Pitch Bitch sees you out there Jack McInerney, calling for the ball ... totally ignored. Surely that makes you want to say some bad words. Keep it positive! Maybe along with a solid pat on the back you could say something like, "Hey buddy, next time I'm open right in front of your face and all I have to do is turn on one square defender and just get one step before I'm one on one with the keeper ... feed me that ball, dude! That is if you enjoy scoring in the actual open flow of a soccer game." 

While we're at it Jack, nice idea about trying to chip their keeper from distance. We have to dream to do, but that was pretty dang hopeful brother. The Pitch Bitch wants to see you taking people on - and stuffing the ball down their throats when you have equal numbers in your attacking half. Something tells her you're good at that. Same with you, Justin Braun! Keep going at them with all you have and it will yield results.

Zach Steinberger wins possession and pushes forward against Charleston Battery.

Zach Steinberger, this applies to you also. In the 75th minute as the Pitch Bitch notes you, well in the attacking half, intentionally delay your pacing to find a pass — instead of charging their keeper. At that point, there were two defenders between you and the goal, neither right on you — and a mountain of space. The notes say, "Zach has stellar ball control and the strength to really take it to those defenders — and possibly beat them. He has a strong enough shot that he can throw everything off balance and maybe give himself or another player crashing the box a chance to score a rebound shot." 

Bottom line: Get hungry, brothers! You've got it in you! Take it to their back line — on the ground! 

It's not that the midfielders aren't working. They are. And hard. Same with the forwards. It's just that in the defensive half, the opposition needs a tighter leash. On the attacking half, Indy needs to leash their opponent's backline and have their bevy of bodacious attacking artillery in the front line and midfield test defenders' boundaries and wandering patterns. Can those defenders be moved in predictable ways? Can that be exploited in Indy's favor? 

Yes, yes they can! Walk opposition D as you would walk your dog Indy. Literally, make them your bitches. And while one or two of you walks the backline over to one side or another, the rest of you pounce on the resulting opening. Don't leave Jack up there by himself when we're moving on the attack or when Owain Fôn Williams is getting ready to distribute. Pressure! 

Throughout the match, recurring thoughts of a shape that was tending heavily toward central and deep. The Pitch Bitch believes the team can develop more dynamism in the wide channels during attacking and defending.

Trinidad nationals Nathan Lewis and Neveal Hackshaw wrestle in Charleston's left corner.

She noted that the team lost a ball in the 10th minute by trying to plow through the middle - and a mess of Charleston D - instead of taking a totally open pass up the perimeter. Perhaps, instead of long, crazed passes out wide, some beautiful leading or even directly connecting passes out wide. Then pressing the full unit into attack mode using width and depth to its advantage, working angles, easing closer and closer while looking for weaknesses or opportunities to appear. 

Just prior to McInerney earning a PK in the 85th minute, the Pitch Bitch notes, "The shape problem is this: We clog the middle. Which is a good thing when strong opposing players are trying to stuff an attack down the middle, but we are not getting the flanks shut down? We are allowing those crosses in - and we suffer as a result. 

"The sweat-ethic of the team is decent. People aren’t lazy. But our resources aren’t yet being utilized with prime efficiency and efficacy." 

In the first 20 minutes, Indy was already switching play over the top instead of using easier, more direct passes on the ground. Switch away, but try switching with rhythmic, quick-released, closer (or at least more open) passes on the carpet, instead of trying for the one-and-done, over-the-top miracle or trying to dribble through a clogged mid-channel.

Soony Saad lashes in another great strike from Brad Ring's layoff to open the scoring.

In the minutes before the evening's opening goal: a free kick goes nowhere and no one seems expecting to receive it. Why not try a weak-side run and collect the trash? Maybe there's an opportunity there. 

At one point Indy midfielder Juan Guerra works hard to muscle off his opponents and feed up the ball up the channel. But the pass finds no one, though Guerra and Nathan Lewis seemed to communicate immediately after the play about an opportunity lost. 

"Perhaps it will work next time," she thinks. 

Minutes later, Soony Saad asks for a long switch from his D, gets it, but can’t control it and ends up fouling the Battery while trying to control the ball, a call which displeased him so much that he was sure to communicate with the ref. 

Still, Indy reclaimed possession, only to have Guerra taken out by Charleston's Tah Anunga. Indy Captain Brad Ring set the resulting free-kick rolling and Saad smashed it home in the 44th minute. A later attempt at a repeat, with Ring again setting a free kick for Saad in the second half, results in Charleston rejecting the kick before it even reached the top of its arc, causing the hosts to complain that their guests had not honored the 10-yard rule. Coach Martin Rennie also protested. But the play was already in the rearview and the game moved on. 

In the minutes before the Battery's first goal of the evening, Jack McInerney took an overly hopeful shot at trying to chip the keeper from distance and then, when Indy regained possession, his teammates failed to send him an easy, up-field pass for which he was open. Next thing the spectators see: O'Brian Woodbine bury a goal on a deflected shot he was happy to clean up from an unchecked weak-side run.

Neveal Hackshaw chasing Saad, carved through Indy's midfield on the way to Charleston's third goal.

If one were to draw a vertical line through the field in the second before Woodbine shoots, one can see that Ayoze is charged with covering two players in vitally threatening positions on the left flank/corner of the box, while 5 Indy players swarm three players with the ball on the right side of the defensive third. The goal is scored when an unguarded weakside runner takes advantage of his teammate's overly ambitious shot (rejected by Indy's defensive). The deflection sets him to scramble to beat Fôn Williams and deliver a one-touch tap across the face of the goal and into the far side netting. 

Charleston added to their score in the 80th minute when the Battery's Nico Rittmeyer made an unchecked run into Indy's wide left flank and completed a low cross across the mouth of the goal where Ataulla Guerra runs to meet it from the center for a well-controlled one touch to the far corner of the net. Again, Indy struggles to make a timely shift and get the top of their box shut down. 

The visitors looked poised to issue the host an embarrassing upset, leading 2-1 with 10 minutes left in the game. But then McInenery earns a PK and Ayoze nails it for the team, tying the game. Then, miracle of all miracles, Indy earns a free kick in stoppage time and Ayoze manages to convert it into a goal for Indy! The hosts look poised to win only to have the euphoric celebrations deflated when ... 

From a review of the so-called highlight reel, in the plays leading up to heartbreak for the home side, we have Indy with essentially a 4-3 advantage around the center circle as the Battery begins to dribble by them by pushing a bit wide, skirting the line between Indy's wide right and the right central channels. Meanwhile, his teammate takes off upfield on the same line, running to split three Indy defenders in the area. 

One of the three defenders pops up to meet the oncoming dribbler, but not in time to prevent a pass upfield to the feet of the splitting runner who beautifully slows pace as three Indy defenders descend around him. He launches a pass back to the center of the field at the top of the box to the feet of the onrushing Tah Anunga, who was all too happy to use his right foot to shoot to the far right netting, just past the fingers of the outstretched and crestfallen Fôn Williams. 

Indy’s next match will be at home. Kick off against Atlanta United FC 2 will be at 7 p.m. June 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Fee-free tickets are available for purchase through the Brickyard Battalion supporters club at


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Indy Wrecks Hard During 500 - NYRB II V Indy Eleven REVIEW

Indy Eleven crashes 4-1 to vastly superior MLS Academy side NYRBII

By: James Cormack

New York Red Bulls II kicked off the first half of this game and Indy Eleven quickly pressed to win possession. Having done so the ball was played back to left defense and passed across to Brad Rusin. With time enough to make oneself a sandwich, within 25 seconds after kick off we played a long high ball into the middle of the park. Why? You have to really ask yourself now is this what our team is being encouraged or asked to do?

Color commentator and former Red Bull defender Heath Pearce made a comment within the first five minutes of the match that stood out to me above all the commentary during the game relating to Indy Eleven's style of play...

"I don't think Indy is a team that is focused on being possession-oriented,  they can be very direct, they are not looking to outplay or play through you, even though they have the quality of players to do so."

Worth repeating... "They have the quality of players to do so."

Thank you Mr. Pearce. 

So why is Indy Eleven playing like this? You can't blame it on needing a rest this week, and you can't blame it on the roster as we know we have quality. So after ten games, it has to be said that our coaching staff is setting our team up and asking them to play in a way that is simply not working in this league, it doesn't even work against D4 teams. If they believe it should then maybe they are not communicating their intentions clearly enough to the squad.

Do the basic things correctly, and don't concede possession right after gaining it, not in the first 30 seconds or at any time during a game.

If we have no plan B and are unable to change direction in the way we play or are too stubborn to do so, then it's going to be a long hard season.

Soony Saad scored his third for the season and Indy's only goal of the day.

NYRBII is an Academy team, and from what I could see they play the game the way it should be played. They kept the ball down, played a great passing game, looked for the channels, slotted the passes and used the corners as well as the middle of the park and were very dangerous in front of goal even before they scored their first goal. They were able to use every inch of the field and engage their whole team in attacking build-ups.

A great pass from McInerney into the box that came off the heel of Nathan Lewis was swept home convincingly by Soony Saad to give us the lead in the 21st minute, it was against the run of play really, but you take those. Red Bulls overall play in the half and especially the last 10 minutes would have made a scoreline of 2 or 3-1 to the home side at halftime unsurprising.

To be fair, the mistake that cost us the lead was a mistake any player can make in any league in the world at any given time. The backpass header to Owain from Venegas was badly weighted and it allowed our opponents to seize the moment and pull level. How you react to a mistake like this as a team can define you, we did the same thing again within a few short minutes and it resulted in a penalty decision and we're 2-1 down.

As in the previous match against Bethlehem Steel players are by this time becoming visibly frustrated. Brad Ring was taken out of the game on a yellow for Juan Guerra which is a reasonable decision, I had hoped this would give us a little bit of creativity in midfield, but before long frustration caught up with us and Nico Matern had to leave the field by way of a red card for a second yellow. Indy Eleven's defensive quality thus far has not been just because of a steadfast back line and a great keeper, it has also been because of our great work in defensive midfield, and now our both of our DM's were gone.

We have missed Matern's defensive influence, due to a red we will miss him again midweek.

Eleven down to ten.

Red Bulls continued to play the way they had the whole game, patiently and technically and it was only a matter of time before the scoreline increased. And it did. By the end of the game and into stoppage time, an academy team was able to showboat and tease us. The home team could have easily scored eight goals if it were not for some great stops by Owain Fôn Williams. We fell by a scoreline of 4-1, the most crippling defeat we have suffered in 2018 and for the first time by more than one goal.

We completely folded and crashed like a poorly constructed paper dart into concrete! I hate to have to keep making analogies to our 2016 team, but that team played every minute of every game and they had the courage and the character to come back from behind and eke out results. This team does not, and I am being perfectly honest when I say I do not blame the players (not all of them at least). Martin Rennie has to take this on the chin and face his demons, what you think might have worked in this league, is not working at all.

The only shining light we have up to this point is our away record, unbeaten and having not conceded a goal away from home we were wrecked, shamed, teased and embarrassed on the field of play. It is simply unacceptable and I don't think I am being unkind in saying so. If for some strange reason a coach or a player actually reads this, prove to me I am wrong. I want that to happen more than anything in the world right now!

I will end on a note from last week, there were no excuses for the result at home against Bethlehem, and I for one was not buying any of the reasons given for that loss after the match, we saw no difference in the way we approached a game a week later, same style, same setup and same antiquated form of route one football. We got some much-needed rest and did the exact same thing again. If a color commentator and former player can read us and like an open book and describe us perfectly in such a simple manner, then so can every coach in this league.

It's simply not good enough.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Time To Hit The Reset Button - Indy Eleven V Bethlehem Steel FC REVIEW

Zach Steinberger scored Indy's solitary goal against Bethlehem Steel in a 1-2 loss.

By: The Pitch Bitch (Rebecca Townsend) A disappointing week - with an early exit from the U.S. Open Cup, the only open, true test of soccer champions offered in this country - morphed into a disappointing weekend for Indy Eleven with a 1-2 home loss on Saturday to Bethlehem Steel. In post-game comments, Indy head coach Martin Rennie was ready to push the reset button. His tired team was ready for a refreshment of minds, bodies, and spirits. He was the first to admit that the squad’s teamwork, passing and movement were off, that too many opportunities were given away because of rushed play. And, he said, he offered no excuses for himself or his team regardless of their recent grind of several games on the road with several talented players benched to injury. “The players are all here to play - to perform,” Rennie said, noting the hard truth that virtually every soccer player on the planet has faced before - that the evening’s match was not on. With three Steel players collapsed on the field in the 9th minute and one Indy player down, the theme of the night did appear to be 'collapse'. The Pitch Bitch noted several plays where Indy men were in the right places, attempting the right things and the hand of fate just would not allow them the sweet sound of ball caressing net. Nathan Lewis worked his butt off attempting crosses and shots from the flank … and though his shots weren't on, he earned a free kick and corners, which could have been better utilized.

Nathan Lewis working inside the 18 in the first half for Indy Eleven.

Kevin Venegas dished a gorgeous free kick for Justin Braun. The subsequent header just wasn’t on, it was inches off, into the post. A deadly goal of such caliber would have given the game an entirely different flavor. Instead, it was missed by an inch. Soccer is a cruel mistress. Total bummer. But champions don’t cry. They move on and keep salivating for deadly strikes, they keep working, keep hunting. “Goal scoring has so much to do with confidence,” Rennie said. “If you hammer the players, you’re not really building the confidence, which they need to have.” The game plan moving forward, the coach said, is to have the players clear their heads, recharge their bodies and get back to work. Because, after all, with one fewer game played than arch rivals and current USL table leader F.C. Cincinnati, Indy sits just six points behind. Good leaders keep perspective on such matters.

Parting shots from the Pitch Bitch game notes (please beware these will include a sexual reference.): Rushed play. What can we do about it? Look for time, space and your people. Think not just about speed, but change of pace. Remember, good soccer is like good sex: Sometimes we need to do it quick and dirty, capturing great effect in minimal time. This would be akin to a goal scored on a counter attack with minimal passing.

But so often, we need to enjoy the anticipation, we need more foreplay, we need to enjoy the movement, the control we achieve when we’re working together and running our opponents around the field in patterns predestined to expose their vulnerable underbellies. After watching one too many squandered passes, the actual bitch notes say, “Don’t force it. Find some rhythm. Settle into it like a good, long fuck.” The game notes end on a sour note of two Bethlehem shots forcing Fôn Williams into action. But just prior, in what for Pitch Bitch on-the-spot, short-hand game notes is trés élégant cursive longhand, “even when all else is shit, Brad’s ninja stuff is fun.”

Brad Ring was acknowledged and celebrated for 100 appearances and played a strong game.

So, here’s to you Brad Ring and your more than 100 games you’ve played for Indy Eleven - and all your games as an Indiana Hoosier! - plus your MLS years and every other game that made you the man you are today! Keep up the good, solid, tough, dependable play. It’s a treat to watch you work! Thank you for your service, sir!
Thoughts by James Cormack...

My disappointment in our performance on Saturday is not easy to put into words. We had a short time to prepare coming off a Wednesday game but so did our opponents. As the game wore on our visitors could see we were lacking and they took advantage of it, they grabbed the game by the throat.

We have players missing and that does not help, but the problems we can see in the way the team plays did not just develop on Saturday night. Our lack of bite in the final third has been the cause of repeating discourse for many weeks now and not wholly down to a lack of confidence in players. The issues are all over the park and it comes down to lack of quality delivery, creation, and poor decision making. All the stats in the world do not point to an improvement if those shots taken or attempted are pitiful or a result of ill decision.

Last Wednesday against Mississippi Brilla we played route one football. Jack McInerney spent a lot of the game having to wrestle for 50/50 balls in the air. On Saturday it was the same again but this time Justin Braun was the wrestler and again we played way too much long ball. When we did get the ball down and play it into the width the ball disappeared into a vacuum most of the time and never came back.

This was the assumed position for Justin Braun for most of the game. Guess where the ball is at.

Lewis did not have a good game, we saw the same at Pittsburgh. There was just no end product, whether he was playing on the right as in the first half or for a spell on the left in the second when he received the ball in the corners or took it there himself it either was poorly delivered in and lost or was sent skywards with woeful attempts at shooting. If we want to have someone on the field just to look fast and dangerous we could sign Tony Kanaan, he’s in town. I am sure Nathan can do much better, but a player has to be given the incentive to improve, I really hope he does. Be more dangerous.

We rarely used the middle of the park behind the forward line to create opportunities, most times when we did it was long balls or short balls popped in the air for 50/50 challenges, I took over 1400 photos at the game and probably about 20% or more of them are Justin Braun having to wrestle in the air or on the ground for a ball. In contrast, if you look at Bethlehem and the way they played, Santiago Moar totally bossed the middle of the field in front of our back line, he was serviced well and he serviced his team around him well, he tore us apart. We need that in our play, we need a Santi Moar.

The boys do need some rest, but all other teams are playing pretty much the same amount of games. The style of football we are playing, and I use the word style loosely is not good and its getting worse. In matches where we have had a healthy roster to choose from you can see the same things. Our strong defensive play has been remarked upon but even on Saturday against Bethlehem, we looked shaky. Will a couple of days rest change the way we are set up and the way we play football? Time to reset everything and look to see how we can approach matches differently in order to win regularly in this league. The problem isn't really the strikers in my opinion.

If this is the way we want to set up and play for the season, we may make the playoffs, but we probably will get found out quickly in the first postseason match. I am still optimistic, we have quality in our roster from top to bottom, it needs to shine.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

If There Is No Will There Is No Way - Mississippi Brilla FC v Indy Eleven REVIEW

One of these teams was organized and ready to win and one of them was not.

By: James Cormack

Football matches are often decided by odd numbers if you score one more goal than your opponent you win if you score the same amount you draw. The odd number was 1 in this match and that was the goal on the scoreboard for Brilla FC notched by Koray Easterling. The oddest number really though is the '0' which is creeping closer to being a familiar suffix applied to Indy Eleven.

For 80 minutes Brilla FC and Indy were tied up at 0-0 with Indy pushing hard for the winning goal. After a long ball counter and a foul on Brilla that stopped play for a few minutes due to an altercation between opposing players, Brilla capitalized off the set piece on the restart to put themselves in the lead and held on to it through stoppage time. Brilla FC will now play USL's Nashville SC in the third round of USOC 2018.

FT - Mississippi Brilla FC 1 (Easterling 81')  Indy Eleven 0 

Before making any complaints about Indy Eleven's unceremonious exit from USOC 2018 it should be noted that Brilla deserves credit for coming out and punching above their weight and pulling off a victory. Mississippi Brilla FC became the first team from their state to reach the third round of a US Open Cup. This is a big deal for them, and they achieved it because they believed in themselves, didn't give up and took their chance when they had it.

For much of the game, Indy Eleven controlled possession, outpassed their opponents, possibly wore them out a little or a lot and looked like they were just biding their time before delivering a knockout punch. What actually happened was a team who are still having difficulty finding that connection between midfield and attack, passed the ball around with little urgency and still looked unsure what to do with it where it counts.

Despite having the ball at their feet for less of the game than Indy did, Brilla showed energy and urgency when they had the chance, they tried to make things happen and you could see the determination of a team who really wants to do something big, they wanted to succeed and progress in the tournament and give the local supporters a night they won't forget.

Brilla probably expected to be up against it, they probably knew they would have to give up the possession stats and have to defend a lot, and they knew that any chances they do get in the game they have to make them count, and they did. They prepared.

Indy Eleven also gave their supporters a night they won't easily forget. In what could have been an opportunity to exorcise the demons of a cup exit to Michigan Bucks in 2017, our team just gave us a new US Open Cup low to contemplate.

In League play, Indy has scored 7 goals in 9 games, only three have really come from open play the rest either from drawing a foul or penalty or being gifted the ball in a scoring position by our opponents. It is an issue, in league play other results can fall your way but in tournament play, you don't get second chances.

Where I can be realistic and look at the situation up until now as an overhauled squad still trying to find their way in a new league who sit three points from the table top in USL East despite the aforementioned failings, when the same issues arise against teams at D4 level then you have to wonder if the problem is a little deeper than we might realize.

The result is embarrassing not because of who we were defeated by, that would be an insult and a discredit to the PDL and Mississippi Brilla FC. It was embarrassing because as a team we didn't look like we went there to win it. Even if it were the case that neither Martin Rennie or Ersal Ozdemir has any interest in the Open Cup or adding more fixtures to an already hectic schedule, the players are professional players and when you step on the field you step on wanting to win or not at all. Also as a coach, these results are ultimately what defines you as a success or a failure.

We have three coaches... I would assume and have no reason to believe otherwise that they have meetings and discuss how to correct the issues we have scoring goals and creating goal scoring opportunities.

If we cannot assume that we have what it takes to move on in the Open Cup past a PDL side then we also cannot assume we will score goals and win games over MLS reserve sides and that is what we face now with back to back fixtures against Bethlehem Steel and Red Bulls II. Let's hope our coaching staff and players can now pick themselves up and prove us wrong.

Many congratulations to Mississippi Brilla FC, I hope you enjoy another great night next week and attract even more attention and support for your team.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Indy Survive Battle Of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Riverhounds V Indy Eleven REVIEW

Carlyle Mitchell never likes leaving the field, unfortunately for Indy he left early in this match.

By: James Cormack

Indy Eleven hit the road for a Friday night match this week against the only remaining undefeated team in USL, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The Boys in Blue entered the game undefeated away from home. At the end of the night, the song remains the same, Pittsburgh is still the only undefeated team in the USL and Indy have still not been beaten on the road nor have they conceded a goal.

Indy Eleven notched their fifth clean sheet of 2018 and picked up one point in a very hard fought 0-0 draw at Highmark Stadium. All respect should be given to the home team for making this match a very difficult one for Indy Eleven, they will be sore for not finding the net after their efforts. They attacked well and defended even better but also failed in scoring.

The first 20-25 minutes of the first half was somewhat cagey, both sides probing but not able to find a way to unlock their opposition, there were purple patches and scary moments for either side. From about halfway through the first half the tempo picked up and it did not cease for the entirety of the game.

Pittsburgh pressed Indy Eleven very well and as the second half wore on Indy found it harder and harder to settle into any kind of rhythm, Riverhounds controlled the pace of the game and they made it very hard work. It was an incredible feat of survival really for Indy's normally calm and collected defense, at times they looked shell-shocked and confused but still managed to hold down the clean sheet.

Nico Matern (left) in action against Lou City was the second casualty of the night, replaced by Juan Guerra.

Martin Rennie again made slight changes to the starting lineup going with what looked like a 4-1-4-1 with Matern holding down the defensive midfield and Jack McInerney the lone striker. Kevin Venegas, who left the Louisville game late through injury was rested and Brad Ring again stepped in at right back. Justin Braun started to give us another attacking option and Watson was again rested.

Starting Lineup: Fôn Williams, Ring, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Braun, Steinberger, Saad, and McInerney. Subs: Farr, Rusin, Watson, Amankona, Speas, Guerra and Moses.

It was enough of a shuffle to expect Indy to require a little time in this game to find themselves in a new formation. At a point in the game where Indy looked like they were settling, they were dealt a hammer blow when Carlyle Mitchell had to leave the field in the 35th minute. The pack was shuffled again and Brad Rusin stepped in alongside Ouimette.

As we know Indy has that luxury of roster depth and Rusin is a more than capable replacement and played a large part in Indy not conceding a goal. Indy was dealt another injury blow in the 62nd minute when Nico Matern also had to leave, replaced by Juan Guerra. Mitchell and Matern are a critical part of Indy's defensive steel, credit to our team for still keeping the Riverhounds shut out for the remainder of the match.

For the second consecutive away game, Martin Rennie chose not to use all three subs, the same happened in Charlotte, I am sure there is a good reason but I am not sure what it is. In both matches, Indy has a following Wednesday game.

A lonely night for Jack at times, but he made the most of tough situations.

I guess one could be forgiven for expecting a 0-0 draw, as mentioned Indy has not given up a goal on the road this year and Pittsburgh arguably have the best defense in the league having only conceded 3 goals in 8 matches. Neither side can be described as prolific in front of goal, although the Riverhounds have notched up 10 goals compared to Indy's 7 for the season so far.

A goalless draw it was though, not much in the way of highlights but over the course of 99 or so minutes, Pittsburgh definitely looked like the team most likely to break the deadlock. Most of Indy's attacks were opportunistic at best in the times between having to defend against a determined Pittsburgh attack. The Riverhounds back line has been touted as the best in the league, and on the evidence of this game, you can see why.

Positives: Indy again showed they are a difficult team to break down, they came under intense periods of pressure in this game and still did not concede a goal. We know we are defensively strong and in this game probably more than most they really had to endure and after losing two critical players who make up that defensive mettle Carlyle Mitchell and Nico Matern. Indy was pressed very hard and had to think on the fly, at times it was not pretty but they survived and denied Pittsburgh a win.

Jack McInerney can probably be given the man of the match award, despite Indy being determined to throw 50/50 balls up front, McInerney despite not being the tallest player on the field won a lot of them and also created great scoring opportunities with clever distribution for Braun and Saad among others but they couldn't be finished. He was trying to make things happen.

Denied. Several opportunities but nothing in the net for Soony Saad.

Negatives: Unfortunately for Indy again, thinking on the fly was not a strong point in their attack building, they can be forgiven for losing the ball or being thwarted when Pittsburgh put them under pressure, but there were plenty of moments with space and time in the game where the Eleven wasted it. Indy has more than enough ability to play a great passing game, but again poor decision making in possession stopped them from creating enough clear-cut scoring opportunities. 

Examples of this, in the second half Brad Ring playing out of a tight spot and passes up the line to Lewis who back heels to set himself up but spins and loses the ball, rather than try a fancy trick control the ball, pass back and move, maintain possession. Soony Saad hammering a ball goalward from distance when he had space and time and players in front of him. Many moments in this game we took the hardest road or the least sensible decision to try and force a scoring opportunity instead of using the easiest pass. Decision making, thinking on your feet.

The guys on the left and right width in our attack need to produce more and we still are failing many times and we won't improve as an attack until we get this figured out.

It's okay to go back in order to go forwards but it seemed the intensive pace of the game set by Pittsburgh caused Indy to feel they had to do the same thing and too much of our play was rushed instead of trying to shift the tempo, slow it down and create good chances. Trying to quick counter an extremely solid defensive team at home with long balls did not work.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast has returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud. Plans are to have at least one show per month.