Sunday, June 14, 2015

That was the Spring that was! Bring on Fall!! (Indy Eleven v FC Edmonton 6/13/15 Review)

Winning looks like this!
The importance of Indy Eleven's win over the Eddies cannot be overstated enough. In the light of recent personnel changes and the fact we had not been able to witness a win at home in 2015 it was important for the team to not only give us a night of enjoyment at Carroll and our first home win of 2015, but it was ultimately more important to get those three points to give us a realistic chance of making the playoffs.

We all knew beforehand that Edmonton were missing some key players, but regardless, I truly believe the clinical performance by our team on Saturday would have stood up to any team in this league. We played smart, we played the game the way it should be played, and we totally played Edmonton off the park!

Results in other games also fell our way, with Jacksonville and San Antonio failing to win we moved into fifth place in the spring standings and finished only seven points from the top of the league and a point behind fourth and third place teams. We knew we had a squad of players at the beginning of the season who could be capable of beating any team in this league, after Saturday and the way this team played, there can be no doubt in my mind that we have the depth and the ability to be a team than contend for the Soccer Bowl this year. Add to that I doubt for one minute that we have not seen the end of additions to this squad, as you probably heard during the broadcast this week that we had a Central American national striker on trial, which probably was a good little push for the rest of the squad, if you're not putting the work in, your place will not be safe going into the Fall.

As close to perfect as you can get, Indy Eleven V FC Edmonton....

The most noticeable thing about the first half of this game was the huge difference in the way we retained possession so much better than any other game, at times in the past I have seen players playing at the back or wide midfield who run into trouble and feel their only option is to look up and hit a hopeful ball forward, but on Saturday this did not happen AT ALL, and it was the key to us pretty much owning the game. Whenever players like Franco, Hyland, Pineda, Stojkov etc ran up against someone they did the smart thing and turned round and passed it back. We were calm and composed in every area of the field and we made smart sensible passes. There was no panic, there was no dithering or snap decisions, we just passed the ball around and made sure we kept it, even on the occasions where we lost the ball it was not through sloppiness, it was through trying to do something to create and attack and being tackled or moved off the ball.

We limited Edmonton to only on really serious chance in the 18th minute when a header was glanced over the top. This was the only real chance in the whole game for Edmonton, and Kristian Nicht was not called on to make a save in the whole game, and only had to take a few goal kicks! This is not just evidence of a poor performance from Edmonton, it was evidence of an Indy Eleven who were not willing to let Edmonton get into the game at all. Indy controlled possession with aplomb throughout the whole first half and never panicked, their patience was rewarded not once but twice in the last ten minutes of the first period. Brian Brown who had been wrestling with the FCE back four constantly struck a hopeful shot from around 20 yards in the 39th minute which saw Edmonton goalie Smits floundering to get a touch and the ball went home into the right side of the net to put Indy 1-0 up, patience and hard work paid off.

Five minutes later after a Dylan Mares shot on goal was scrambled by Smits, Kyle Hyland found himself in a position to get the rebound first and was bowled over by the Edmonton goalkeeper, the referee awarded a penalty which Dylan Mares slotted home left to give Indy Eleven a 2-0 lead going into the break. it could have been more, Pineda had two great chances with a header that tipped off the bar and a shot that shaved the left upright, Edmonton were lucky not to be at least 3-0 down at the half.

Edmonton coach Colin Miller made a profound statement at the beginning of the second half and benched his goalkeeper Smits and brought in Matt Van Oekel whilst also replacing left side attacker Boakai with Cristian Raudales. I am pretty sure Miller was in the same frame of mind as all of us and knew this game was done, and wanted to give a message to his squad that all of you are expendable, if you want your place in fall then play for it. They started aggressively and worked on retaining possession but to give Eleven their dues, as difficult as it was for us to get the ball, we made it very difficult for them to achieve anything by being in their face at every minute, everywhere on the park.

Edmonton's only real plan was aggression and this led to a number of stops creating extra time in the second half, in the 50th minute Dylan Mares took a head knock and had to leave the field for concussion testing. Don Smart came on in the 64th minute for Stojkov to add some fresh legs and Indy started to win the lions share of possession again, time and ideas were running out for the Eddies and in the 72nd minute we saw another stoppage of play when Edmonton sub in Raudales cold cocked Marco Franco with an elbow to the throat and face, he was given a straight red and sent off deservedly so. Not sure why our commentators though it was harsh, this sport is played with your feet, using upper body is one thing but your arms or elbows should never be up around someones face when executing a tackle. Franco recovered and was sent back on.

From there on in it was plain sailing for Indy Eleven, we stroked the ball around beautifully and wound down the clock. Duke Lacroix came on for Pineda in the 77th minute and slotted into the left midfield position, and as we saw last week he cause problems for Edmonton with his pace and enthusiasm. Within four minutes Duke made his mark, a good through ball towards Brian Brown from Charlie Rugg was left by Brown and Lacroix broke off the defensive line and calmly slotted the ball left under Van Oekel to give Indy a 3-0 lead. That was enough, the boys in blue went through the motions and retained possession for the remainder of the game without trying to humiliate our northern visitors. Indy kept a clean sheet and won by the biggest margin in their history, eclipsing the first home victory of 2014 against Minnesota by a goal. This was probably the best performance I have ever seen since following Indy Eleven.

Bloody Shambles MVP ....

This is probably the hardest game ever to pick a most valued player, literally at least nine outfield players gave everything they had throughout this game, Kristian Nicht had nothing to do. Honestly for me it's on a knife edge between Brad Ring and Brian Brown, Brian worked tirelessly against the Edmonton back four and scored a great goal. But I am going to give MVP to Brad Ring, the defensive midfielder position can at times go unnoticed, but Brad was the hub at the center of the wheel on Saturday and everything that came to him went back out sensibly, not only that he snapped at every opposing player within his area tirelessly for 90 minutes and made zero mistakes. Honorable mention to Duke Lacroix, for his minutes on the field so far he has been incredible, we have found a gold nugget in that boy, can't wait to see what he does in fall. BRAD RING MVP

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