Sunday, July 24, 2016

Back Home Again (atop the table) - Indy Eleven vs. FC Edmonton REVIEW (7/23/2016)

"If we can keep getting three points at home, we'll keep staying at the top of the table." - Greg Janicki

By: Caleb Ramp (@CalebRamp)

Saturday night’s match against FC Edmonton was something of an enigma. In a vacuum, it could easily be considered the least-convincing win of the season – but a win it was. By securing three points against the third-place team on the combined table, it was—perhaps in its own way—a concrete example of why Hankinson’s men are champions. They’re tough. They’re resilient. They get results. 

Edmonton has shown themselves to be one of the most well-organized sides in the league this season. No team had allowed fewer goals on the road than the Eddies (0.67 per game), and they are one of only two teams (along with Ottawa) to leave Michael A. Carroll Stadium with a point in 2016. 

Credit should be given to Colin Miller’s side for putting in yet another quality performance in a hostile environment—in the brutal heat and humidity—and doing so with a depleted squad. Lesser teams crumble under those conditions, especially after conceding an early set-piece goal. Credit also to Matt Van Oekel, who made a few excellent (and many routine) saves to keep the Eddies alive to the end. 

Even so, Indy will feel like they could have—perhaps should have—done better. Possession was sloppy at times, and careless passes in the midfield led to multiple chances for Edmonton which required a nervy save or clearance. 

Indy also failed to capitalize upon several of their own opportunities at the other end; the lethal efficiency we’ve seen in past matches at The Mike non-existent. After the game, Coach lamented not putting the match out of reach early: “It was a massive night for shooting—for scoring—opportunities. I think we should’ve done better with them. A lot of them were played directly at the keeper.” 

It wasn’t all bad, though: the build-up play was, at times, as beautiful as we’ve seen. Despite finding the net only once (and failing to do so from open play), Indy’s 11 shots from inside the box led the league on the weekend – a clear indicator of the number of quality chances which were being created. Hankinson again: “I think the way we constructed the attacks to create the shooting opportunities was one of the best performances of the year.”

Individually, there were several stand-out performances: Greg Janicki rebounded well from his rough outing in Minnesota, finding the net for the second time in three matches and embodying the “resilience” mantra that is your 2016 Indy Eleven. Cory Miller put in his best performance of the season. Dylan Mares continues to impress. 

It wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t have to be. Indy Eleven are back atop the table. 

On to Miami.

James Cormack's (@bshambles_JC) Take: 

I felt we made the game look tougher than it should have been, as I mentioned in the preview FC Edmonton is never a team you can take lightly and they proved that again by taking the game to us despite a vastly changed back line and only having three outfield subs. The back line change perhaps afforded us a goal from a set piece but going toe to toe on the field there really wasn’t much between the teams. 

I thought if we could get an early goal FCE would crumble, we got that goal but Edmonton were never ready to give up the game at any time. It’s good to get the three points and to move top of the table but we also have to recognize over the 90 minutes it was not one of our best games. 

We gave the ball away cheaply on too many occasions and allowed FC Edmonton too many opportunities to attack our goal. Braun and Zayed were pressing the back line when Edmonton had possession but there was a lack of midfield press during the game and we allowed FCE to just play on through at times. 

We need to be more clinical in front of goal because protecting a 1-0 lead is never easy and we came close to losing that lead the whole way through the match even into added time. The heat was a factor for both teams so won’t use it as an excuse for not scoring a second goal, we can be both grateful for a win and also recognize things in our play that can be improved a little

Post-game reactions from Tim Hankinson, Greg Janicki, and Gerardo Torrado:

As always Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation are supporting Playworks Indiana children's charity with our #EamonZayedRule initiative. We are donating money for every goal Éamon Zayed scores this year and you can choose to play along or just make a one off donation to help us reach our target of $2000. Click Here for More Information.

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