|A rare start for Keith Cardona, seen here against CF Pachuca|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven lost only their second game of 2016 and their second game of the fall season. Miami FC bagged a goal in each half to secure the three points with a 2-1 win over the Boys in Blue. Éamon Zayed's eighth NASL goal of 2016 not enough to avoid defeat.
With three games to be played over the upcoming week one may have expected a little player rotation in the outfield, not to begrudge Keith Cardona a rare start but considering Jon Busch's consistency throughout 2016 the decision was a bit of a head-scratcher. Cardona is a worthy keeper, but when you remove Jon Busch from a game you take a large amount of communication at the back away from the field, something I think that is much needed in the absence of Colin Falvey.
Indy started with the same outfield lineup as started against FC Edmonton only the bench had some shake up with Colin Falvey and Jair Reinoso returning to the roster. As happy as I was to get three points in that game it was far from a convincing performance and I felt for sure we would see one or two different players get a start in this game.
It took only four minutes in the game for Miami FC to score the first goal. After a corner was was floated in from Miami and deflected out from the box Miami defender Rhett Bernstein put a header straight back in towards goal, Poku managed to get his body in front of Janicki and divert the ball into the path of Cvitanich who knocked the it home from close range.
It was a scrappy confusing goal but can't really apportion blame to anyone, had Janicki been more physical with Poku in that position the attacker may have taken advantage and gone down in the box, and for Cardona it is never easy to judge the path of the ball with a ruck of bodies directly in front of you.
After the goal it didn't take long for Miami FC to bunker in a bit and protect their lead, Indy Eleven dominated the first half possession and as the game wore on they settled into a much more comfortable passing style and created plenty of chances to level the game before half time, for most of the game in fact they looked like a team that could turn the game around and not only level it but perhaps win.
Indy had the larger part of possession in this game over the 90 minutes around 53/47 but in the first half it was more like 60/40 and the heat map clearly shows most of the play from both teams in and around the final third in Miami's half. Had Indy Eleven been able to capitalize on that and scored before half time it probably would have been a much different game in the second period.
Indy continued to bring the game to Miami in the second half looking for the leveler and it looked like it would only be a matter of time before we would score the next goal in the game.
As the second half wore on and no goal was coming, Tim Hankinson used his substitutions to provide a more attacking element and sacrificing the more defensive pieces of our midfield. between the 60th and 80th minute Hankinson replaced Omar Gordon, Brad Ring and Gerardo Torrado with Don Smart, Siniša Ubiparipović and Jair Reinoso in an effort to find the equalizing goal.
Don Smart proved, as he did in our last game, that he provides a dynamic that at times Indy Eleven are sadly lacking. His first instinct every time he receives the ball is how to service his forwards or at least get the ball into dangerous areas in front of goal. He did the same this week and our crosses and passes into the box almost double in the period when he was on the field. I felt he should have started this game, perhaps coach doesn't feel he can get 60 minutes or more out of him yet, I think he has done enough now to earn a start on Wednesday against Jacksonville.
Try as they did however Indy could not find the goal we needed, even late in the game you never write them off, but it was Miami again that would find the net first and deliver the killer blow in this game, and also exposing our lack of defensive midfield at this point in the game.
In the 85th minute, some great awareness by Miami's No.23 and former Indy Eleven player Blake Smith picked out a cross field pass that switched the play from left to right and found Ariel Martinez in acres of space as Indy's defense was trying to back track. Martinez picked the ball up with Vukovic still behind him, Vuko managed to get in front but Martinez stepped inside and managed to rifle a shot between Nemanja and Janicki that found the bottom right of Indy's net. Keith Cardona was well placed to see the shot and in good position on that side of the goal to stop it but couldn't get a glove on it.
It was a killer blow but with around four minutes remaining and time to be added Indy continued to try and find goals. In the 89th minute they did pull one back, Don Smart providing the assist from the right side of Miami's 18 putting the ball over the Miami defense he found Éamon Zayed at the far side of goal who volleyed in over the line to reduce the deficit to one goal again and bring his tally to 8 for the season, but only after some confusion thanks to Miami FC having two end lines an inch apart on their field.
Despite seven minutes being added to the game and Indy Eleven having several more chances to level the game they could not find the net and time ran out. Indy Eleven had suffered their second defeat of the year to a Miami team who now had achieved only their third win of 2016.
On the whole, despite losing the game, I felt our performance as a team was better than that of last weeks win over FC Edmonton, we looked more cohesive and creative in the middle of the field and we were more fluid in attack, but as has been the case in many games this year we lack that killer punch in the final third.
It was a tough one to lose but credit where it's due, Miami FC deserved to win, they may not have controlled as much of the game as Indy but when their chances came they pounced on them. Excluding blocked shots and despite having much fewer attempts than Indy, Miami FC's shot accuracy was 100% compared to Indy's 29.4%. Controlling possession doesn't necessarily win games, picking your spot and scoring goals when the opportunities arise does.
Indy Eleven have already made the post season, we know that, but we need to continue to show that every performance we give can be worthy of a post season semi final, we will only have one shot at it and I am confident we have what it takes to make the final, but we need to learn from every game and figure out how to dominate in games by scoring more goals and scoring first. We need more service from the width into the opposition box and when we have it we need to capitalize on it. We'll have another opportunity to work on that this Wednesday when Jacksonville Armada comes to Carroll Stadium.
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.