|Good luck, wherever you end up ;)|
The worst moment of course for Indy was the sending off of Erick Norales. There is no doubt that Erick was causing a foul, a little bit of shirt tugging nothing more, denying a goalscoring opportunity, unlikely, the Atlanta player used the situation and went down, it was a yellow at most. But the referee decided to pull out the straight red. Very poor decision and it pretty much ruined the game for us.
The same referee however did award a penalty to Indy only six minutes into the game. I think even the commentary crew had to watch the replay six times to figure out where the offense took place. I still can't see it but I am not going to complain. It does raise the question however that a deliberate handball in the box does not warrant a yellow card but a little shirt tugging warrants a red?
Indy started the game only making one change to the lineup that defeated Tampa 2-0. Charlie Rugg making way for Wojciech Wojcik up front. Tim Regan also had some good depth on the bench to work with including Ceballos, Pineda, Smart, Frias, Janicki, Rugg and Cardona.
Dane Richards managed to get the penalty home despite a touch from Atlanta keeper Ceus and Indy got blessed with an early lead. As we have seen many times in the past Indy almost let Atlanta walk straight up the park and score, a Chavez run and cross deflected for a corner that saw Indy clear off the goal line but a foul was already called for a shove on Nicht.
Erick Norales had another chance to show off his free kick skills on the 12th minute, but couldn't keep his shot below the bar after shooting from just outside the Atlanta 18. Indy enjoyed a few more minutes of possession play but slowly it began to slip away from them as Atlanta started to come back into the game.
Kristian pulled off what would be the first of a strong of great saves in the first half on the 18th minute with a sprawling save from Kyle Porter's shot. Nicht had another fine game and pulled of several key stops in the first half that helped Indy go into the break with a one goal lead.
One of the biggest disappointments for me in this half though is Indy took their foot off the gas around this time and failed to capitalize on their lead. Atlanta were given way too much time on the ball for the remainder of the first half. I felt had Indy managed to score a second in this half this game was over, even if Atlanta did get a goal back I just couldn't see them scoring twice even when we were down to ten men.
Five minutes into the second half came that moment when the referee pretty much destroyed the game for Indy. Erick Norales was given a straight red for a little shirt tugging on Chavez, and Jaime Chavez definitely sold it like any good cheater would.
Shortly before this the referee saw absolutely nothing wrong with a Ceus push on Richards inside the box after he fluffed his clearance. Goalkeeper or not that was a complete body check and Indy should have been given a second penalty. Had we scored that it would have killed the game and the Norales situation most likely would not have happened. I don't care how many times you look at it, Richards was between Ceus and the ball.
Indy were forced into making a defensive substitution and Greg Janicki was brought at the expense of Wojcik forcing the Eleven into a 4-4-1 formation. For the next 20 to 25 minutes of the game Atlanta dominated and took the game to Indy without really creating anything of note. By the 75th minute to my eyes Atlanta were becoming noticeably tired and slower and I still felt we could win this game if we could introduce fresh legs to the game that could make a difference.
We elected to bring in Charlie Rugg in the 68th minute for Richards, which for me was a poor decision, Charlie has never once looked like a game changer in any game in 2015, neither has he looked like he wants to run around too much.
Unfortunately shortly after that Indy Eleven's lead was snuffed out. In the 76th minute Atlanta managed to pop a ball over the defense after Charlie Rugg completely failed at making a challenge. The ball dropped to Chavez, Kristian Nicht tracked the ball and tried to make a challenge but Chavez popped it over his head towards goal. Marco Franco attempted to flick it out with the back of his head but Janicki followed up to bundle it into the net.
It was a sloppy goal to lose just as Indy looked like they were coming back into the game, but I still felt at this moment with possibly 18 or so minutes to play that Indy could win this game if we used our last substitution and brought some creativity and pace onto the field, my hope was we would see Pineda or Ceballos enter the field, but eventually it would be Don Smart who would replace Stojkov in the 85th minute, for me not the best decision and a substitution that was left way too late.
Even before their goal Atlanta were tiring, and after a second yellow in the 76th minute right after their goal, captain Simon Mensing was red carded and sent off leaving Indy ample time to rack up another goal and kill this game. Indy could muster up another couple of shots from Hyland and Keller, but neither Rugg or Smart added that extra dimension or danger that we really needed and Indy held on for a point, and we literally held on in a game we should have clinched, but I am sure like me as the end approached, you would have gladly accepted the point.
What can we do better and what can we learn from this game?
It is not difficult to explain if you watched the game, this was a game for us to win. The referee was very poor, but at the end of the day you can't blame him for us not taking all three points. Under any other circumstances a point on the road is good, but in our circumstances every point is vital.
At any time did Atlanta look like a better team than us? No they did not! We got a lucky break early on and took the lead first. We failed to capitalize on it, we allowed Atlanta way too much time on the ball, we didn't close them down as often as we should. Whether this was down to having to play two games in a few days is neither here not there, we should be strong enough and fit enough to do that and players have to show the same amount of determination in every game.
Outside of the penalty we failed to capitalize on any goalscoring chances, and honestly we didn't really create that many. We either did not bring our midfield into the game enough, either by going the direct route from front to back or playing the ball down the side, very few times during the game were the commentators called on to mention the names of Keller and Steinberger simply because we were trying to bypass the middle of the field way too often. We failed to get balls in front of the defense like we did against Tampa, and we failed at playing forwards into dangerous positions.
Despite having one substitution forced upon us because of Erick's red card, we should have used the other two wisely, and we didn't. I know just from listening to other supporters, most people are baffled by Charlie Rugg's game time to the point that they think there has to be a clause in his contract that guarantees him a certain amount of game time so we don't have to pay his wages, no offense just saying because the productivity compared to the amount of minutes on the field simply does not match up!
Coming up towards the seventy minute mark I felt Atlanta were definitely tiring, much more so than we were and we should have held on to our remaining subs a little longer. We took a sub in on 68 which I felt was too soon and I felt we took the wrong player in, we either needed some pace or some creativity. Rugg was not going to supply either of those. We should have brought either Pineda or Ceballos into the game or both at the same time, but closer to the 80 minute mark.
Bringing Smart on in the 85th was just way too late, and honestly not the best option in my mind. if we had to take Richards out we should have put Pineda in and put Lacroix into the forward position, I would have followed that by adding Ceballos to attacking midfield in place of Keller and ask Steinberger to drop back into defensive midfield. I felt at that point in the game between 75 and 80 had we introduced both we could have killed the game, even at 1-1.
I know someone will probably shrug and say I am being negative, but I am not! We only have so many games left and it is important for us to learn from any mistakes we make, even in games that we win we need to look at how we can be better in the next game. There is a lot that can be taken from this game and improved on. Our coaches and every player in the team has to recognize that. We are two games unbeaten, but we need to go forward unbeaten and winning in order to make the playoffs.
When three points presents itself, don't dare throw it away! Always believe you can improve on each performance regardless of the result and you will win!
Bloody Shambles MVP....
Yeah he takes a lot of stick, but Kristian Nicht saved us from a very bad result. The goal we let in, easy for me to say watching the game in hindsight probably should have stayed on his line, but the problem is if nobody is tracking an attacker someone has to do something and he made the decision under pressure to go for the player, sometimes you just have to react, in the end we bundled it into the net. Outside of the Atlanta goal, Kristian again pulled off a string of vital saves throughout the game to keep us in the hunt for points, and from total disaster.