Sunday, June 11, 2017

Indy Fail to Restore Pride in Eleventh Match - Indy Eleven V Jacksonville (6/10/2017)

Eamon Zayed heads home Indy's only goal in a 4-1 defeat at home.

By: James Cormack

Expectancy was high as Indy Eleven headed into their eleventh game of the season. Still without victory, Indy were coming off the back of a 2-2 draw in San Francisco and there were hopes that this home game could produce Indy Eleven's first win of the 2017 season.

Indy Eleven's injury woes continued to some extent with Justin Braun, Gerardo Torrado, Craig Henderson, Brandon Poltranieri and Kwame Watson-Siriboe unavailable for this game. Don Smart was a welcome sight returning to the starting lineup and Eamon Zayed made his second consecutive start.

Indy Eleven fielded a lineup that should be capable to win this game with but again there was some juggling, Ben Speas supported Eamon Zayed up front, Speas has been a critical player at left midfield but was not played there, instead Daniel Keller came in. Tanner Thompson played in front of Brad Ring behind the forwards.

With Kwame out the back four comprised of Marco Franco, Colin Falvey, Lovel Palmer and Nemanja Vukovic in front of Jon Busch. There was  enough experience and enough of an element from the 2016 side to put up a strong showing. On paper at least anyway, and in the hopes of the Indy Eleven supporters.

Where are NASL getting these referees from?

This is Younes Marrakchi, don't be like Younes, he is no fun at all.

This has to be mentioned, and it is by no means an excuse for losing this game, but how many times have we seen this year not only in Indy Eleven games but in other matches referees who just want to make the game all about themselves.

It's common knowledge amongst pundits in this beautiful game that any good referee, unless there is no shadow of a doubt and it's unavoidable, is not going to give a penalty in the early minutes of a match, if there is any doubt at all you don't give it. It can ruin a whole game right from the start. This referee was obviously one of those who wanted all eyes to be on him, he wanted the game to be about him,  and it continued that way throughout the game.

Maybe a league that almost ceased to exist can't afford to be picky on who they choose to officiate NASL games anymore, this would not surprise me, it seems we are getting bargain basement refs from Dollar Tree that can neither run fast enough to keep up with the game nor make sensible decisions to control the play in such a way to make the game entertaining and fair. I wouldn't even let this guy ref a youth game for fear some of those kids may decide it's not worth playing this game.

Are we in fact cursed, or have we just given up...

Lets look at the penalty first of all. As I mentioned previously no referee worth his salt is going to give a penalty decision very early in a game unless there it is unavoidable. Was there even a foul, or did Derek Gebhard deliberately use minimal contact to draw the foul and go to ground. The ball was not even near Gebhard and Falvey, both were moving towards the play, yes there is upper body to upper body contact and Gebhard used that as an excuse to go down. This is sometimes commonly known as cheating, but in today's game it can be viewed by some as a valuable tool in the skillset of a modern forward.

Regardless of that, it was a situation early in the game where the referee should have waved everybody up and told them to shake it off and get on with it. Instead Younes Marrakchi wanted his spotlight moment on TV as early as he could possibly get it and he got it in the 3rd minute. Quite ridiculous and it set a bad tone for the game. Jon Busch managed to pull of a great save from Jack Blake's initial strike but could not stop the return fire.

Indy Eleven came back well and put things on level terms thanks to a downward header from Éamon Zayed off of a Vukovic corner that bounced up and beyond Patterson-Sewell and after 10 minutes played the score was tied and we could begin again.

For the majority of the first half despite not being able to field the team we wanted to yet again, Indy Eleven produced several great chances to score, Eamon Zayed could have had a hat trick had the goalposts been slightly further apart. However it was Jacksonville who would take the lead again.

Another example of poor officiating, indicators showing line official and ball, apparently this is what offside looks like now?

A long ball from Jacksonville in the 41st minute found Gebhard in the Indy Eleven box, unable to full control the ball gave Colin Falvey a window to put in a great sliding tackle, but you just never know where the ball is going to pop out and JC Banks was on hand to push the ball away to Busch's right and low into the corner of the net. 

Still not something we couldn't recover from at this point. Until....

FLASH POINT.... Red Card. Controversial? No not really.

We know from past experiences from our own players we will always welcome a fight back, going into the half time break a goal down is never easy but it is not insurmountable. Going into the break a goal down and knowing you have to play the second 45 minutes with ten men is a slightly more complicated task.

There is no argument or defense for what took place in the first half stoppage time. Both players were committing to go for the ball, both players were going in feet high. Blake raised his foot to go for the ball then pulled out, Palmer foot was above Blake's waist in an attempt to clear the ball. It's one of those situations you just dust off get up and get on with it. It was a little reckless probably from both players, but not intentional or malicious.

Lovel Palmer got up and cold cocked him, it was a sucker punch and totally unnecessary in any field of play even amateur Sunday football. It's a straight red from any referee, and in the rules of the game for violent misconduct it is most likely a two match suspension. Just completely embarrassing and avoidable. Blake even extended a hand to help Lovel up and was greeted with a smack to the face.

This was where the game was lost when all is said and done, in one sweeping selfish act from an individual player.

Pushing on with Ten...

To give credit where it's due Tim Hankinson pushed forward with a view to attacking, there is no point trying to defend a one goal deficit obviously and changes were made throughout the second half to provide more attack. At the beginning of the second half Siniša Ubiparipović would replace Tanner Thompson at the beginning of the half with plumhoff replacing Smart and Goldsmith coming on for Zayed later in the game.

Had we cleared our line, JC Banks was undoubtedly offside, two players behind the last man.

With little over five minutes of the second half played however Indy Eleven found themselves two goals behind because of another goal that could easily have been avoided. It's hard to fault Don Smart having just returned to the side, but even a midfielder should know when you are taking a post at a corner or free kick and the ball breaks out away from goal you have to get off the line, off the post and push up with the play.

After the third goal there was no way to even pull back to a draw, it was a killer blow and evn if there was a glimmer of a hope within ten minutes the deficit would be three and the fourth goal was a perfect example of a team even with ten men that had given up.

I might be wrong but I think it was Kalen Ryden who took the ball from his own defense and was allowed to stroll through the middle of the park without challenge, he could have been riding a unicycle and eating an ice cream cone and still would not have been pressured. His pass to JC Banks was attempted to be blocked by Keller but fumbled. Jemal Johnson had what seemed like an entire parking lot of space to work in on the left side and received the ball and passed behind the defense for Gebhard to slot home. It was all too easy.

There were calls for offsides and it clearly was not, if you watch the highlight reel someone is screaming blue murder for an offside call. When the ball is played Franco is inside the six yard box trying to block and Gebhard is outside the box. It is neither here nor there now and not an argument. Indy Eleven were destroyed, the game was lost before half time and the rest was cruel and unusual punishment for those that remained to witness it.

Not even a sending off for Jacksonville when Patterson-Sewell clearly handled outside of the 18 yard box, much to his own disbelief, could give Indy Eleven any way back in the game. Little tip of the hat to JAX reserve keeper though, having to come in cold Kyle Nasta made a fine save from a Vukovic free kick late in the game.

The time for denial is over...

We are the worst team in the league, we have to accept that now. How long we will be the worst team in 2017 is up to the coaches and players. I will admit it does seem like we are cursed, if something can possibly go wrong when it comes to Indy Eleven right now, bad things are just going to happen to us.

Many people like myself are left scratching our heads, we can't put a finger on it. Players are obviously frustrated, you can see it in their faces during games, something is not right and even with our injury woes and bargain basement refereeing we should be playing better than this. A red card for Palmer and also the yellow card for Franco we born of frustration and it showed, despite poor officiating these cards were warranted.

One year ago from today, the 11th of June 2016 we witnessed the "Miracle At The Mike" and a familiar scoreline ,defeating our next opponent North Carolina 4-1 to lift the Spring Championship when even then the odds were stacked against us. A year down the road and we have not won a single game, we have seven draws and five defeats and have been dumped out of the US Open Cup by a PDL team.

In our last 6 competitive matches we have been defeated five times and achieved one single draw. The valid excuses we have cannot cover all that, not even close. Even the draw we had against San Francisco was the result of us giving up a two goal lead.

The Indy Eleven of 2016 was billed by Tim Hankinson as a team of Warriors and he also stated that it is not up to us to worry about the rest of the teams in the league, it is up to them to figure us out, we're just going to play our game. Well in 2017 there is no warrior spirit, there appears to be no backbone to this team and no confidence and as for teams having to figure us out that part is easy, they just need to watch any of our games, we are an open book right now.

At least from rock bottom we can accept the fact we are the worst and move on from there, any great result from here on in will be a welcome surprise. However something is wrong within this club and it is clearly visible to anyone watching. I can't figure it but someone needs to, and soon.

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