Monday, September 12, 2016

Backward from Broward - Fort Lauderdale Strikers V Indy Eleven REVIEW (9/10/2016)

Have we lost our way, or is it too soon to panic?

By: James Cormack

When your team loses but gives everything on the field, it's never something to be too upset about, of course you want to win every game, but sometimes you don't. When your team loses and never looked anything resembling a team trying to win, it's kind of tough.

Maybe that's a little harsh, maybe not. Last nights performance against Fort Lauderdale is probably one of the poorest I have seen this season, the scoreline does not really reflect the display, we probably should have been annihilated, we certainly left ourselves open to it.

We gave up a lead twice against Carolina Railhawks, scraped a draw in Ottawa, took a hammering in New York and then a tired team managed to remain undefeated at home with a draw against Tampa after a heavy schedule, I can live with that. We had a weeks rest and went to Florida and looked very sub par indeed. Losing is not really the issue, but after 2 pts in five games now what's happening on the field is not indicative of the quality of this roster, we are playing beneath the standard we have set.

Justin Braun returned to the starting Eleven, and marked his return with a goal, but it wasn't enough to stop Indy suffering yet another probably avoidable road defeat. Daniel Keller kept his starting position alongside Colin Falvey in the absence of Cory Miller. Omar Gordon returned to the left wing at the expense of Duke Lacroix and Torrada started this week in place of Nicki Paterson. Two changes from the previous game lineup.

It took the Strikers around 20 minutes to open up the scoring on Indy Eleven, with a goal that no team should ever allow so easily. Our whole team was caught flat and we labored against the pace of Paulo Junior.

From a defensive clearance by the Strikers Ramón Núñez picked up the ball in the middle of the park and had ample time to allow Paulo Junior to advance on the right and gather the ball, he took it all the way to our goal and slotted past Busch from a reasonably tight goalkeeping. It was just way too easy, and we looked like a team who had already run themselves out of steam.

One clearance, one control, one pass, a run and a shot and we were a goal down. It's easy to accept sloppy goals, something going in off a deflection from a corner or someone pouncing on a miss kick, maybe an accidental own goal. Allowing goals like this is simply embarrassing. I'll leave the viewer to figure it out, there was no left midfield present during this attack allowing for an easier run on that side.

Indy only really had two good chances in the first half, the first in the 13th minute from Torrado who blasted a shot from distance in the middle of the park that was a little too high. In the final seconds of the first half Lovel Palmer connected well with a free kick from Vukovic but goalkeeper Bruno was well placed to gather.

If not for a fine save at close range from Jon Busch, Paulo Junior almost got his second in the 42nd minute. For the second time he brushed aside our defensive midfield and back line to give himself a clear shot on goal but this time was thwarted by the Indy stopper. Indy were fortunate to head to the dressing rooms only one goal behind.

Luck continued to evade Indy in the second half, within the first ten minutes both Omar Gordon and Brad Ring went down with injuries which ultimately led to Duke Lacroix and Dylan Mares replacing them before the match had reached 60 minutes.

Both substitutes had opportunities to make an immediate impact. In the 59th minute Éamon Zayed put a low pass in front of the Strikers goal and served it on a plate to the incoming Duke Lacroix (or Le Crocs as the commentators said) who only had to tap in but his shot went over the bar. Dylan Mares tried an ambitious strike from distance in the 65th minute but his shot went slightly wide right of goal.

Shortly after the Fort Lauderdale Strikers doubled their lead through Maicon Santos. The Strikers once again demonstrated how easy it was to pick apart Indy Eleven when Ramón Núñez effortlessly robbed the ball from Gerardo Torrado before passing of to Maicon who easily got around Colin Falvey and curled a shot past Busch into the corner of the net.

In the 71st minute Indy had another cast iron opportunity in front of goal when Vukovic played a great ball in behind the Strikers defense to Justin Braun, but similar to Duke's chance earlier Braun could only direct it up and out right in front of goal.

Justin would eventually pull one back for Indy in the 88th minute, this time Lovel Palmer providing the cross from the right side, Braun rose above everyone and his header placed the ball perfectly into the far side of goal away from Bruno, it was a great goal, but was too little too late. 

Apparently this is what offside looks like, little wonder people complain about NASL officials?

Braun had one more chance in added time after being sent in onside by Mares but the referees made a very poor decision calling him off, he was onside by a country mile. Complaining about one decision makes no difference, we had ample opportunities to score in this match, the Strikers did also and were more clinical than Indy Eleven, and thoroughly deserved their win, they should have scored more.

For anyone who viewed the game I don't need to go into great detail on how poor we were, we had 11 shots, 9 were off target, 1 was blocked and only one shot in the whole game went where it should and that was the goal that we scored. Errant passes, intercepted passes, players out of position and most of the team looking slower than any Striker on the field. It was not pretty and the end result is we have achieved only 2 points in our last 5 games.

In the seven games we have played on the road this fall we have given up 14 goals now, in the entire spring season we only conceded 8.

We have played a lot of games, and the majority of those games recently have been on the road, but it does not excuse the fact that our style of play has been so far removed from what we have seen in spring that it is impossible to deny the fact that something is fundamentally wrong.

It's also probably the worst time for us to be in a slump. The three most successful teams in the fall season are now our next three opponents. Indy Eleven will square up to Miami FC next Saturday, after a 2-0 win against second place FC Edmonton in Canada they have now jumped above us in the fall standings.

Indy Eleven will then face New York Cosmos at home before traveling to FC Edmonton. Regardless of whether we have already made the playoffs, we are in a tough spot mentally and physically right now and one of our next three opponents may be one that we meet again on November 5th at Carroll Stadium.

Miami FC are flying in the Fall standings but still have a lot of ground to make up in the combined standings because of a very poor spring performance, Miami FC are coming to Indianapolis to win, make no mistake. They are pouring everything into winning the fall and cannot afford to approach any of their games settling for a point. They also have to play Carolina on Wednesday, hopefully they will be tired but I am not banking on it.

Our players and coaches are going to have to dig deep and find a solution, before the season began Tim Hankinson said that we are going to play our game and it is up to everyone else to figure us out. Well we are being figured out and found out and those other teams are not finding it difficult at all to expose us. This needs to be answered or we will go into the playoffs as a team on the back foot trying to figure out how to win a game.

Figure it out guys...... or this tough spell could become a whole lot worse real soon. If I am wrong, please please prove me wrong this Saturday.


Don't forget 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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