|Maybe not quite paper bag time yet!|
Having said that, it was a very bad game, we shouldn't ever underestimate any team nor should we just expect to win, but we most certainly should do better than this. We lost our first game in 6 matches, we conceded 4 goals in a game for the first time since losing 5-1 to Minnesota last August.
We also conceded four goals to a team who have only managed to score five in their last eight games before Sunday. We now have lost four of our five games against Ottawa and they are really not a better team than us over the period since both made their debut in the NASL.
Going into the game knowing that Tampa and Cosmos both suffered defeats, it was a good opportunity for Indy to make ground in the fall and combined table, in the end it was lucky for us that we had a trip and fall in a week where other championship contenders did as well. However this round allowed teams like Edmonton, Jacksonville, Carolina and Ottawa to gain an edge on us in the fall table and the combined season table.
So what the hell happened.... ?
Indy Eleven were disadvantaged from the start through missing a few key players, we had had to proceed with a somewhat unorthodox starting line up. We only suited up five subs for the bench that included only one attacking player. The absence of Brad Ring was a big problem, especially with Keller carrying a knock and sitting on the bench and Sergio Pena also out long term, we had no natural defensive midfielder.
Indy opted for an attack minded 4-5-1 and looked to bring the game to Ottawa early, a confusing game plan to me, because there was no real need to rush into this game trying to cause some kind of knockout blow, firstly we are not really successful at doing that and secondly you should never underestimate any team in this league. We played Dylan Mares in the center, with Smart and Wojcik either side of him and Pineda and Richards taking the wide roles with Rugg as the lone forward.
I felt we could have just stuck with our 4-4-2 formation and just moved Mares to DM and put Smart in on the right, if we have to start Rugg put him as attacking midfield behind the forwards and start Brown and Woj. I wanted to see Richards, but you are then looking at starting with a player who has not played with others. I would rather he came off the bench in his first game. I think we mixed it up just too much against a team who are all well known to each other.
However, we didn't have a whole lot of options, missing Ring, Stojkov, Lacroix and Keller carrying a knock, no matter what we started with it was going to be different. And if it doesn't work, as it didn't, we only had four outfield players on the bench. Two defenders, an attacker and an injured defensive midfielder.
The game itself, not much point in picking over every detail, we lost both halves 2-1. We failed to defend well against three set pieces and let in a very weak goal from open play. The first goal saw Rafael Alves connect with a free kick at the back post, he was left free by Wojcik, so we had a striker marking a tall forward and Kristian Nicht was left flat footed, it was far too easy for Ottawa.
The brightest spot for Indy in the game was a beautiful goal from Don Smart, a great strike from from 25 yards out sent into the side netting. Judson McKinney made his debut for Indy in an NASL game and did well to rise up and nod in Indy's only other goal in the game.
Indy also achieved a penalty call in the game, and the resulting kick pretty much summed up our day, Victor Pineda pretty much putting it to the goalkeeper who saved without too much effort.
Ottawa's two free kick goals from Richie Ryan were great goals, you have to give them credit they were beautifully struck. Possibly our wall at both could have been better positioned or at least more effective, on the first for sure someone could have put their head in front of the ball.
Ottawa's third goal by Tommy Heinemann was the result of a long ball sent high over the defensive line who had pressed up, with two good center backs in Miller and Norales we should have done better to get in front of Heinemann, but we didn't and his low weak shot trickled past Kristian Nicht who was not well placed to do anything about it.
The game itself outside of the goals was scrappy, Indy never really found a rhythm in the game at all and we started picking up yellow cards early in the game, the result of which was a second yellow and red for Cory Miller late in the game which now means he will miss the game against Cosmos this Saturday.
It was a frustrating game, and a sore one to take, but it's easy to get too carried away without having a sleep on it. Yes we could have played better with what we had, despite our shortage of players. Possibly we did not need to start the way we did or line up the way we did, but it is our first loss in six games. It was a bad day and the whole team and the coaches need to take it on the chin and move on.
At the same time we don't just forget it, the game needs to be examined and we need to atone for mistakes and do better. It's easy to blame individuals and just get shitty about it, but also we need to look at the picture in terms of multiple games and not just one game. I know Kristian Nicht was the first to stand up and apologize, maybe he needed to, but we also need to remember if it were not for Kristians huge save in the 44th minute against Carolina we may be reeling from the effects of back to back defeats right now.
I am not defending any particular player, just trying to bring some perspective, it's a team game and this was a collective clusterf**k!
The measure of a good team and a good coach is how well they can pick themselves up from a game like this, we have no reason to believe that they will not, we have been in a good run of form and we tripped up, the reaction to that should not be to roll around on the ground crying, you just get back up and keep running.
Bloody Shambles MVP.....
Don Smart scored a beautiful individual goal from range, in a day of not too many bright spots it was a beautiful goal. Congrats to Judson McKinney for scoring on his debut.