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 F么n Williams into action. But just prior, in what for Pitch Bitch on-the-spot, short-hand game notes is tr茅s 茅l茅gant 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: F么n 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.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Outsider Defeats Favorite On Derby Day - Indy Eleven V Louisville City FC REVIEW

Many bumps and bruises in this game, but only one winner - Indy Eleven

It wasn't silky, it wasn't pretty, but when you have a chance to knock off an undefeated current league champion you take it. These are the results that make a difference later in the year.

Indy Eleven entered the game coming off the back of a 3-2 home defeat to FC Cincinnati and faced a team that had yet to be beaten with five wins and one draw in six matches. The league table and league position matter not at this stage of the season, when you start the game on 10pts and your opponent has 16 and you close that gap by 3, that matters.

Ayoze Garcia was the difference maker on Saturday, not only by scoring the only goal but he along with the rest of his team made sure Louisville could not find the net. Clean sheets are not easy to come by and for sure Ayoze and Mitchell can take a lot of credit for the three points won on Saturday.

Ayoze Garcia has pretty much staked his claim as penalty taker extraordinaire for Indy Eleven. He almost closed the game with a 2-0 result in the 86th minute with a 30yd rocket if it were not for the quick reaction of Louisville City keeper Greg Ranjitsingh.

Ayoze Garcia finds the upper left corner with his second penalty goal of the season.

The first 45 minutes were cagey and very evenly matched. As much as each team gave no ground, neither could find any real spark in the final third. Soony Saad probably had the best chance of the first period with a great look and a header over the goal in the 34th.

It looked like one of those days where 0-0 was written all over the low clouds visible through the open roof of Lucas Oil Stadium but the tempo and eagerness did pick up in the second 45 minutes. Substitutions Ownby and Spencer for Louisville definitely gave them more threat, ironically both of those players would miss clear chances in front of goal in injury time to level the game.

Justin Braun made his way on to the field offering a new dynamic in Indy Eleven's attack and the field started to open up for Indy. A deft pass from Watson down the line to Nathan Lewis saw the winger's cross connect with the hand of Paco Craig. As already mentioned Ayoze Garcia almost split the corner seam of the net slamming home Indy's goal into the top left.

Indy Eleven again were able to call on their roster depth to add defensive steel late in the game and we saw for the first time another great talent in Seth Moses who replaced Nathan Lewis in 83rd minute. Indy battened down the hatches to seal the three points in the closing minutes Brad Rusin was supposed to enter the game but after a necessary exit for Kevin Venegas, Brad Ring entered the field of play for his 100th competitive appearance for Indy Eleven.

Seth Moses (left) makes his debut. Best move from Baltimore to Indianapolis since the Colts? 

A high boot and unintentional contact with the face of Carlyle Mitchell from Ownby in the 92nd minute meant Indy Eleven finished the remaining five minutes of added time with only 10 men. Mitchell can take applause for his part in this game, solid throughout the 90 in the 88th minute Owain F么n Williams was beaten by a Spencer header but denied a goal after composed defending by Carlye in the middle of the goal mouth. The Welsh keep might owe the big fella a beer.

Indy Eleven took a lot of knocks, it was a very aggressive game through tough football and no ill intent, two teams determined to win. The lads will look forward to this recovery day more than any other this year, and they deserve it.

Match reaction from James Cormack...

As far as the negatives go I can hark back to my reaction to the Charlotte game. We have not found our feet yet or a good combination as an attacking force, the skill is there we know the players can produce it, but time after time we let ourselves down in the final third. We have to work on this.

Not only delivery from open play, whether from the width or from the center of the park is rushed and not really thought out. Free Kicks and corners, although we had some good ones, the majority are poor, this is the hardest part to swallow, in open play there is an intensity but from dead balls, you have time to think and we know the players are better than this.

Keep the ball on the ground please, again too many times we saw long balls played from deep in our own half and hopeful ships in the final third, if a player is pressured I can understand clearances but these were hopeful balls that at the end of the day are a waste of time. There needs to be a significant decrease in the number of times we present 50/50 situations, we lose possession. Take your time, make good decisions if you don't have a good pass forward, turn around and play it back, start again and try a different angle of attack.

Owain F么n Williams claimed a fourth clean sheet with the help of Carlyle Mitchell left.

That being said, we defeated the reigning champions who came into the game as league leaders, they should be saying the same things about themselves, but never let that be an excuse to not seek improvement. I always remind myself we almost completely overhauled our squad, we are still finding ourselves and we played against a team that has changed very little after winning the USL Championship in 2017. Also, Tyler Pasher was nowhere to be seen.

These problems in attack will sort themselves out, and imagine what we will be like when they do!

Our defensive abilities in every single inch of the field from Jack Mac back to Owain continually amazes me. Carlyle was phenomenal yesterday as was Ouimette and they get stronger together each match. Ayoze was probably man of the match even if it ended 0-0 and Venegas coming back in never missed a beat. Matern and Watson looked like they breathed defensive mindedness as soon as they woke up in the morning. This back four is probably the one we will see most, and look at who we have to come in Rusin, Ferriera, Ring, Moses... excuse me for salivating.

After yesterday I am giving Jack McInerney the nickname of Geronimo, brave, fearless, tireless, afraid of nothing. He might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he certainly is mine. Each to their own but I like a tough player with an attitude, and especially one who works as hard as him. That's also why I like Brad Ring, I am so proud he got his 100th game and I hope also Jack reaches that milestone in a blue shirt as well.

Match reaction from Caleb Ramp...

It feels wrong to disparage three points against the reigning champions and a team which – up to yesterday – had been undefeated in 2018. The importance of the squad’s impressive defensive performance should also not be overlooked. Three days removed from conceding three, Rennie’s men buckled down and secured their first clean sheet at Lucas Oil Stadium – doing so against the highest scoring team in the USL. It may have been a fortunate victory, but a victory it was nonetheless.

We're not getting paid to figure out problems, this guy is, and we're pretty sure he's on top of it.

A win against the league leaders coming into the game is certainly something the Indy Eleven can be proud of, but there is undoubtedly room for improvement – especially in the final third. The 2018 version of the Indy Eleven is more reliant on isolating a defender and attacking them in a 1v1 off the dribble than any version of the team we’ve ever seen. There seems to be very few one or two-touch passes with penetrating off-ball movement. 

When we are unable to get around a defender, our next move is to almost always look for a foul. While there’s something to be said for wanting to set up a Soony Saad free kick, this style of play is neither sustainable nor entertaining. Statistically, Indy is 27th in the USL in total number of passes, and 25th in passing accuracy. That’s not nearly good enough.

That isn’t to say there aren’t flashes of attacking brilliance, nor should Indy fans be concerned with their spot in the league table. I would, however, like to see a focus on more ball movement, more off-ball movement, and significantly more Justin Braun.


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and our website  and show some love to The Pitch Bitch and Wurst Eleven. The Bloody Shambles Soccer Show podcast returned and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly from Soundcloud

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Tale Of Two Cities - Indy Eleven V Louisville City FC PREVIEW

Brad Ring playing preseason in 2016 has missed both competitive Open Cup matches with Louisville.

By: James Cormack

Despite never having played in the same league together, the histories of Indy and Louisville run somewhat parallel since 2014. The clubs have met five times, three in preseason friendlies and twice in the US Open Cup in 2015 and 2016.

In the spring of 2014, Indy Eleven began their professional journey preparing for their first season in the NASL. Saturday, March 22nd saw them head to Louisville for the first time in an arranged friendly against the University of Louisville Cardinals. 

Louisville City FC was still a year away from kicking a ball, but like the Brickyard Battalion their supporters group Louisville Coopers already existed and it was the first opportunity for both to meet and exchange ideas, both supporters groups existed before their teams had played.

The match at U of L itself was an opportunity for coach Juergen Sommer to play several trialists with a view to rounding up the Indy Eleven roster. One of those trialists was current Louisville club captain Paolo DelPiccolo. 

Paolo a former player for UofL Cardinals was drafted by Montreal Impact in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft but elected instead to play at Eintracht Frankfurt II in Germany before returning in the same summer to sign for Montreal. After being waived by Impact at the end of the season he joined New England Revolution who also waived the Midfielder.

Two former Cardinals Paolo DelPiccolo and Dylan Mares challenge for a ball in preseason 2016

The March 22nd friendly with Louisville Cardinals ended in a 2-2 draw, Indy goals coming from Don Smart and Ben Spencer. Head coach Juergen Sommer decided against adding DelPiccolo to his roster and on April 10th 2014 Paolo signed for Arizona United, now Phoenix Rising and would eventually sign for LCFC in 2016 after a stop in Charlotte.

Louisville City FC was announced as a new team on June 4th of 2014, to commence play in USL starting in 2015. Louisville and Indy would meet on March 21st in a friendly competition for the first time in the preseason of that year at the University of Indianapolis in a match that ended with Louisville leaving as victors in a 2-1 win.

To date, the two sides have never met in the city of Louisville in a match, competitive or friendly. Two friendlies have taken place at the University of Indianapolis, one in Evansville and two USOC matches at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.

102nd US Open Cup - May 27th, 2015

2015 Official Match poster
by James Cormack
Leading up to the USOC meeting between the two sides on May 27th of 2017, Indy Eleven was not in good form, despite having a reasonable start to the 2015 campaign things started to go downhill quickly. In the three matches prior Indy had scored only one goal and suffered three defeats including two home losses to Jacksonville and Ottawa with a 3-1 away defeat to Minnesota United in between.

Not only were we leaking sloppy goals we also basically couldn't hit a barn door with a shovel and our overall play on the field was that of a disjointed, incoherent team low in spirit.

"The US Open Cup game against Louisville City FC was a chance for the players to regain some poise, play some better football and achieve a win and a happy ending. Unfortunately, all of the problems we have seen of late were still apparent, none more so than our failure to find any chances in front of goal. We never looked like scoring, we lost 2 goals in extra time, I felt had we played for 180 minutes we still would not have scored a goal." excerpt from Bloody Shambles 2015 Match review.

Indy Eleven and Louisville remained deadlocked at 0-0 after regulation time and added time had passed and both would enter extra time in order to find a decider in the match. The Eleven would not score, Louisville took the lead in the 115th minute through Nate Polak and double their lead four minutes later with a goal by Sidney Rivera.

It was a hammer blow for Indy at a very low point in the clubs short history. Louisville would move on to face Chicago Fire in the next round, a tie that our supporters badly wanted to be a part of. The defeat also was probably the catalyst that saw the club part ways with head coach Juergen Sommer, following the USOC exit Indy Eleven played out a 2-2 draw at home with Tampa on May 30th. On June 2nd it was announced the team had parted ways with their first head coach.

103rd US Open Cup - June 1st, 2016

2016 Official Match Poster
by Peter Evans
A year to the day after Indy Eleven fans had seen the exit of their first coach the team would play Louisville City FC again, and like the last time, a tie with Chicago Fire of MLS was up for grabs. Things were different, Tim Regan took over as coach after the departure of Sommer and in the offseason, Tim Hankinson was installed as new head coach and announced Tim Regan as his assistant.

As most Indy supporters would know it was an undefeated spring for us, the new look squad was probably the best roster the club had seen, but it wasn't going to be easy going into this match. Indy was pushing for a Spring Championship win and was having some injury issues. 

The Open Cup tie came when the Eleven were 8 NASL matches undefeated in Spring but had to play Miami FC three days after the game in the second to last match of Spring desperately needing wins to clinch their first silverware.

Tim Hankinson took a gamble and fielded a vastly changed line-up from our league matches, it was about as second string as you could get with a smattering of starters, but it was necessary at the time and not a slight on the competition. It sure made people nervous including myself, nobody wanted to exit the same competition to Louisville City in consecutive years. Tim Hankinson, however, did have weapons on the bench.

Louisville did enough themselves to scare everyone by taking the lead early in the game, a 21st-minute goal by Chandler Hoffman put the visitors 1-0 up against a depleted Indy side. Justin Braun and 脡amon Zayed were already at the stage where both were making a difference together in Indy's league matches and both were sitting watching.

Jair Reinoso hounds the defense, first half 2016 US Open Cup

Braun and Zayed came on to the field either side of the halftime break, Justin replacing Jair Reinoso in the 41st minute and 脡amon started the second. They shifted the momentum of the game and turned it in Indy's favor. Owayne Gordon leveled the match in the 58th minute and Zayed scored the goal that would seal victory 10 minutes later and it was Indy Eleven's turn to meet with Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup.

Indy Eleven V Louisville City FC - May 5th 2018 USL Eastern Conference

After four years in different leagues with competitive meetings limited to the US Open cup only, Indy and Louisville will meet for the first time in league play. Lou City are current USL champions and have started 2018 looking the part. Along with Pittsburgh Riverhounds, they are the only two teams in the Eastern Conference without a defeat.

Indy Eleven potentially have one of the best rosters they have ever had but are still maturing as a squad, and have their best start to a season in franchise history despite losing twice at home to FC Cincinnati. This will be Indy Eleven's fourth home game of 2018 and they have one win to show against Nashville, they will need to tip the points balance at home if they want to make the playoffs.

Lou City fans in 2016, attendance likely to be sparse this week with the Kentucky Derby and the 500 Mini on the same day.

This game will probably be like no other game between the two, both sides have come a long way since their beginnings and arguably we could be looking at a match between the two strongest Indy and Louisville teams to date. If it brings as much excitement and entertainment as Indy's midweek encounter against Cincinnati, then those attending will be in for a treat.

At times in the past, people could be forgiven for considering Indy Eleven as favorites in meetings between the two, but the results prove otherwise. Louisville has always been a tough nut for Indy to crack. In this match, Indy Eleven are the underdogs.

Despite having played all their matches against Indy Eleven away from home, Louisville have only lost to Indy Eleven once through five matches in that 2016 USOC encounter, I have been to every match and each one has been aggressive and chippy. The matchup I am looking forward to most is between Martin Rennie and James O'Connor, a Scotsman and an Irishman on the sideline what could possibly go wrong?

Martin Rennie is a young man for a head coach, but he has quite a few years on O'Connor. The Louisville coach, still only 38 went straight from playing and coaching at Orlando to being the manager of Louisville City and he has progressed himself and his team year by year. Martin Rennie has a history of improving teams since his days at North Carolina and is now trying to prove himself in the USL, what better match to do so than against the current league champions.

No score predictions from me, but I will predict we are going to see one hell of a game.

Ben Speas in action against Louisville City FC in Spring of 2017

Previous Results:

2015 Indy Eleven 1 Louisville 2 (Friendly)
2015 Indy Eleven 0 Louisville 2 (USOC)
2016 Indy Eleven 0 Louisville 1 (Friendly)
2016 Indy Eleven 2 Louisville 1 (USOC)
2017 Indy Eleven 1 Louisville 1 (Friendly)

Current Form:
Indy Eleven (WLWWDL) 3-1-2 10pts from 6 matches.
Lou City FC (WWWWDW) 5-1-0 16pts from 6 matches


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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pleasure And Pain Aplenty, Parting Shots From A Rough Ride - Indy Eleven V FC Cincinnati REVIEW

Ayoze from the spot gets his first goal for Indy Eleven (Photo: Clyde Townsend)

By: Rebecca Townsend

Minute 5, Cincy’s Corben Bone is not shut down as he streamed into Indy’s left defensive channel and launches a cross into the box where his striker Emery Welshman escaped a brief interaction with Brad Ring, somewhat akin to a do-si-do, before what looked from the press box to be rather incidental, off-balance contact with Carlyle Mitchell. To the ref it looked like a PK. Cincy midfielder Kenney Walker nails his shot. 1-0.

The hosts redoubled their efforts to regain the upper hand. It did not take them long.

Hungry Indy striker Jack McInerney worked for his meat, feasting on his interception of a Cincy pass in the 24th minute, Cool Jack Mack drives a shot toward Spencer Richey that sent the visiting goalie into full panic mode. In diving to block McInerney’s first effort, Richey set his rival up for a rebound shot. McInerney, a veteran of MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team, embodied cool, calm, collected focus and, with ease, guided the ball into the net. 1-1.

The loins of Indy’s collective fan base grew moist because in that moment Cool Jack embodied such a lovely balance of hard and smooth, a truly delicious combination for a striker. Yummy!

McInerney’s example can serve as inspiration as the team reflects on moments when more patience is warranted once control and possession are established.

Soony Saad awarded the penalty that would put Indy Eleven a goal in front (Photo: Clyde Townsend)

Salivating hunger for goals and the willingness to work for them is a trait shared by Indy’s entire strike force. Justin Braun looked hungry Wednesday, as did Soony Saad, who managed to draw a PK in one of his drives into the Cincy box.

Indy defender Ayoze took the shot and launched Indy ahead 2-1.

The host’s euphoria did not make it to halftime.

Welshman (the same one who headed in a goal for FC Cincy the last time they were in town) set up Corben Bone’s sweet chip to a speedy, wily Jimmy McLaughlin who opened Indy’s defense with an arching run across the 18 from left to right, only to demonstrate artful control by receiving the chip and executing a decisive, one-touch strike from back across the face of goal, past all of Indy’s defense and into the far, left net. Plenty of material for the team to review in terms of marking strategies on this one. 2-2.

Around minute 55, Mike Lahoud’s dish to Corben Bone yields an undeniable cannon of a shot into Indy’s lower left corner for the game-winning strike. The Bitch congratulates Cincinnati, as abhorrent as it may feel. Indeed, Indy deserved it. When all the video review is said and done, it’s likely Indy will find that it has the potential to stop goals like Cincy’s. 3-2.

Marking strategy is something worth considering in greater detail. Several examples could be seen Wednesday of the team communicating about marking needs, which, in short order upgrade from low to high priority. Perhaps the “bitch” of the night could involve the dissatisfaction felt when one witnesses - on at least two occasions - the communication becomes a distraction, meaning players are pointing fingers about who should be where while, meanwhile, those very opponents slide by.

Here’s coach Townsend’s golden rule: the pecking order starts with the goalie, whose word trumps everyone else’s on the field. The defensive line has the second most power: when a defender points to a player and tells a midfielder or striker to get there, the recipients of that message need to shut up, listen and move to shut down the identified opponent.

Soony Saad and Jack McInerney now both have 2 goals for Indy Eleven (Photo: Clyde Townsend)

Wait: one more bitch. This one for the refs. If I were to choose one goof, perhaps it would be that time around minute 75 when you called a foul against Jack McInerney. From the press box, it’s a bet that McInerney was the victim of that altercation.

Notes from the game’s final minutes: “Saad could be concussed from the whiplash he's probably getting from being pushed in the back so hard. Justin was taken down from behind…”

To counter the bitchiness, some positive notes:

High five to Carlyle Mitchell for a nice, hard committed tackle to prevent a Cincy one-on-one against Fon Williams in the 74th minute. Also to Matt Watson for great presence in stopping a threatening counter-attack as the game was winding down.

The Pitch Bitch once soaked up some wisdom from a dear friend with a lifetime of professional soccer playing experience that pertains to the next few days for Indy. It’s about holding your head up and moving forward.

“What do you do to help keep your head up in hard times?” she asked, as they commiserated about the heartlessness of the business of soccer — of deals made and broken — of salary dreams and salary realities.

“Win,” he said. “It always helps to win.” Indy lost this battle, but the war is not over. To win, when we are knocked down, we get up and keep fighting harder. Even though the Pitch Bitch has confessed an irrational expectation that her teams win all games, she accepts reality — for the most part. So, if games must be lost, let one (or two) be lost early on — and let the victories come later. We have one more regular season match against Cincinnati — and they will host it at 7:30 on Sept. 29. (Road trip anyone?)

Indy Eleven has 28 games remaining in 2018, 14 at home. We've got what has to be one of the greatest stadiums in the league. We've got 70,000 seats. Let's party like soccer players and win a damn championship! Then maybe the powers that be will deem it feasible to give Hoosiers the world-class grass they deserve for the world-class players performing for our entertainment and education.

Thanks to the Indy Eleven communication team for the following information:

It's always disappointing to lose,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “I think it's a little bit frustrating that we lost goals at the start of each half. It was certainly an exciting game for the fans. From a coaching perspective, I would expect that it'll be an improved performance when we come back to it on Saturday.”

Indy Eleven will finish their three-game stretch this Saturday at 12:00 p.m as defending USL champions Louisville City FC travel to Indianapolis. Fans cans grab tickets to the early afternoon match for as low as $15 at Indy Eleven Tix or by calling (317)685-1100.

If you would like to stand in the supporters section and support the BYB you can buy General Admission tickets with no service charges at BYBTIX and $1 from each ticket helps the supporters group with game day and tailgate finances.
USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 2:3 FC Cincinnati
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN 
Scoring Summary:
CIN – Kenney Walker (PK) – 7'
IND – Jack McInerney – 24'
IND – Ayoze (PK) – 30'
CIN – Jimmy McLaughlin (Corben Bone) – 41'
CIN – Corben Bone (Michael Lahoud) – 54'
Discipline Summary:
CIN – Forrest Lasso – 60'
CIN – Emery Welshman – 72'
CIN – Kenney Walker – 75'
IND – Ayoze - 88' 
Indy Eleven lineup (4-2-3-1): Owain F么n Williams (GK); Brad Ring, Ayoze Garcia. Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette; Tyler Pasher, Ben Speas (Matthew Watson 60'), Juan Guerra (Justin Braun 78'), Zach Steinberger (Nathan Lewis 60'); Soony Saad, Jack McInerney
Indy Eleven bench: Jordan Farr (GK); Brad Rusin, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern, Matt Watson; Justin Braun, Nathan Lewis
FC Cincinnati lineup (4-4-2): Spencer Richey (GK); Matt Bahner, Paddy Barrett, Forrest Lasso, Blake Smith; Michael Lahoud, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone (Will Seymore 81'); Jimmy McLaughlin, Daniel Haber (Manu Ledesma 67'), Emery Welshman (Tomi Ameobi 86')

FC Cincinnati bench: MarkVillage (GK); Sam De Wit, Lance Laing; Will Seymore, Russell Cicerone, Manu Ledesma; Tomi Ameobi