|Carlyle Mitchell never likes leaving the field, unfortunately for Indy he left early in this match.|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven hit the road for a Friday night match this week against the only remaining undefeated team in USL, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The Boys in Blue entered the game undefeated away from home. At the end of the night, the song remains the same, Pittsburgh is still the only undefeated team in the USL and Indy have still not been beaten on the road nor have they conceded a goal.
Indy Eleven notched their fifth clean sheet of 2018 and picked up one point in a very hard fought 0-0 draw at Highmark Stadium. All respect should be given to the home team for making this match a very difficult one for Indy Eleven, they will be sore for not finding the net after their efforts. They attacked well and defended even better but also failed in scoring.
The first 20-25 minutes of the first half was somewhat cagey, both sides probing but not able to find a way to unlock their opposition, there were purple patches and scary moments for either side. From about halfway through the first half the tempo picked up and it did not cease for the entirety of the game.
Pittsburgh pressed Indy Eleven very well and as the second half wore on Indy found it harder and harder to settle into any kind of rhythm, Riverhounds controlled the pace of the game and they made it very hard work. It was an incredible feat of survival really for Indy's normally calm and collected defense, at times they looked shell-shocked and confused but still managed to hold down the clean sheet.
|Nico Matern (left) in action against Lou City was the second casualty of the night, replaced by Juan Guerra.|
Martin Rennie again made slight changes to the starting lineup going with what looked like a 4-1-4-1 with Matern holding down the defensive midfield and Jack McInerney the lone striker. Kevin Venegas, who left the Louisville game late through injury was rested and Brad Ring again stepped in at right back. Justin Braun started to give us another attacking option and Watson was again rested.
Starting Lineup: Fôn Williams, Ring, Mitchell, Ouimette, Ayoze, Matern, Lewis, Braun, Steinberger, Saad, and McInerney. Subs: Farr, Rusin, Watson, Amankona, Speas, Guerra and Moses.
It was enough of a shuffle to expect Indy to require a little time in this game to find themselves in a new formation. At a point in the game where Indy looked like they were settling, they were dealt a hammer blow when Carlyle Mitchell had to leave the field in the 35th minute. The pack was shuffled again and Brad Rusin stepped in alongside Ouimette.
As we know Indy has that luxury of roster depth and Rusin is a more than capable replacement and played a large part in Indy not conceding a goal. Indy was dealt another injury blow in the 62nd minute when Nico Matern also had to leave, replaced by Juan Guerra. Mitchell and Matern are a critical part of Indy's defensive steel, credit to our team for still keeping the Riverhounds shut out for the remainder of the match.
For the second consecutive away game, Martin Rennie chose not to use all three subs, the same happened in Charlotte, I am sure there is a good reason but I am not sure what it is. In both matches, Indy has a following Wednesday game.
|A lonely night for Jack at times, but he made the most of tough situations.|
I guess one could be forgiven for expecting a 0-0 draw, as mentioned Indy has not given up a goal on the road this year and Pittsburgh arguably have the best defense in the league having only conceded 3 goals in 8 matches. Neither side can be described as prolific in front of goal, although the Riverhounds have notched up 10 goals compared to Indy's 7 for the season so far.
A goalless draw it was though, not much in the way of highlights but over the course of 99 or so minutes, Pittsburgh definitely looked like the team most likely to break the deadlock. Most of Indy's attacks were opportunistic at best in the times between having to defend against a determined Pittsburgh attack. The Riverhounds back line has been touted as the best in the league, and on the evidence of this game, you can see why.
Positives: Indy again showed they are a difficult team to break down, they came under intense periods of pressure in this game and still did not concede a goal. We know we are defensively strong and in this game probably more than most they really had to endure and after losing two critical players who make up that defensive mettle Carlyle Mitchell and Nico Matern. Indy was pressed very hard and had to think on the fly, at times it was not pretty but they survived and denied Pittsburgh a win.
Jack McInerney can probably be given the man of the match award, despite Indy being determined to throw 50/50 balls up front, McInerney despite not being the tallest player on the field won a lot of them and also created great scoring opportunities with clever distribution for Braun and Saad among others but they couldn't be finished. He was trying to make things happen.
|Denied. Several opportunities but nothing in the net for Soony Saad.|
Negatives: Unfortunately for Indy again, thinking on the fly was not a strong point in their attack building, they can be forgiven for losing the ball or being thwarted when Pittsburgh put them under pressure, but there were plenty of moments with space and time in the game where the Eleven wasted it. Indy has more than enough ability to play a great passing game, but again poor decision making in possession stopped them from creating enough clear-cut scoring opportunities.
Examples of this, in the second half Brad Ring playing out of a tight spot and passes up the line to Lewis who back heels to set himself up but spins and loses the ball, rather than try a fancy trick control the ball, pass back and move, maintain possession. Soony Saad hammering a ball goalward from distance when he had space and time and players in front of him. Many moments in this game we took the hardest road or the least sensible decision to try and force a scoring opportunity instead of using the easiest pass. Decision making, thinking on your feet.
The guys on the left and right width in our attack need to produce more and we still are failing many times and we won't improve as an attack until we get this figured out.
It's okay to go back in order to go forwards but it seemed the intensive pace of the game set by Pittsburgh caused Indy to feel they had to do the same thing and too much of our play was rushed instead of trying to shift the tempo, slow it down and create good chances. Trying to quick counter an extremely solid defensive team at home with long balls did not work.