Sunday, May 6, 2018

Outsider Defeats Favorite On Derby Day - Indy Eleven V Louisville City FC REVIEW

Many bumps and bruises in this game, but only one winner - Indy Eleven

It wasn't silky, it wasn't pretty, but when you have a chance to knock off an undefeated current league champion you take it. These are the results that make a difference later in the year.

Indy Eleven entered the game coming off the back of a 3-2 home defeat to FC Cincinnati and faced a team that had yet to be beaten with five wins and one draw in six matches. The league table and league position matter not at this stage of the season, when you start the game on 10pts and your opponent has 16 and you close that gap by 3, that matters.

Ayoze Garcia was the difference maker on Saturday, not only by scoring the only goal but he along with the rest of his team made sure Louisville could not find the net. Clean sheets are not easy to come by and for sure Ayoze and Mitchell can take a lot of credit for the three points won on Saturday.

Ayoze Garcia has pretty much staked his claim as penalty taker extraordinaire for Indy Eleven. He almost closed the game with a 2-0 result in the 86th minute with a 30yd rocket if it were not for the quick reaction of Louisville City keeper Greg Ranjitsingh.

Ayoze Garcia finds the upper left corner with his second penalty goal of the season.

The first 45 minutes were cagey and very evenly matched. As much as each team gave no ground, neither could find any real spark in the final third. Soony Saad probably had the best chance of the first period with a great look and a header over the goal in the 34th.

It looked like one of those days where 0-0 was written all over the low clouds visible through the open roof of Lucas Oil Stadium but the tempo and eagerness did pick up in the second 45 minutes. Substitutions Ownby and Spencer for Louisville definitely gave them more threat, ironically both of those players would miss clear chances in front of goal in injury time to level the game.

Justin Braun made his way on to the field offering a new dynamic in Indy Eleven's attack and the field started to open up for Indy. A deft pass from Watson down the line to Nathan Lewis saw the winger's cross connect with the hand of Paco Craig. As already mentioned Ayoze Garcia almost split the corner seam of the net slamming home Indy's goal into the top left.

Indy Eleven again were able to call on their roster depth to add defensive steel late in the game and we saw for the first time another great talent in Seth Moses who replaced Nathan Lewis in 83rd minute. Indy battened down the hatches to seal the three points in the closing minutes Brad Rusin was supposed to enter the game but after a necessary exit for Kevin Venegas, Brad Ring entered the field of play for his 100th competitive appearance for Indy Eleven.

Seth Moses (left) makes his debut. Best move from Baltimore to Indianapolis since the Colts? 

A high boot and unintentional contact with the face of Carlyle Mitchell from Ownby in the 92nd minute meant Indy Eleven finished the remaining five minutes of added time with only 10 men. Mitchell can take applause for his part in this game, solid throughout the 90 in the 88th minute Owain Fôn Williams was beaten by a Spencer header but denied a goal after composed defending by Carlye in the middle of the goal mouth. The Welsh keep might owe the big fella a beer.

Indy Eleven took a lot of knocks, it was a very aggressive game through tough football and no ill intent, two teams determined to win. The lads will look forward to this recovery day more than any other this year, and they deserve it.

Match reaction from James Cormack...

As far as the negatives go I can hark back to my reaction to the Charlotte game. We have not found our feet yet or a good combination as an attacking force, the skill is there we know the players can produce it, but time after time we let ourselves down in the final third. We have to work on this.

Not only delivery from open play, whether from the width or from the center of the park is rushed and not really thought out. Free Kicks and corners, although we had some good ones, the majority are poor, this is the hardest part to swallow, in open play there is an intensity but from dead balls, you have time to think and we know the players are better than this.

Keep the ball on the ground please, again too many times we saw long balls played from deep in our own half and hopeful ships in the final third, if a player is pressured I can understand clearances but these were hopeful balls that at the end of the day are a waste of time. There needs to be a significant decrease in the number of times we present 50/50 situations, we lose possession. Take your time, make good decisions if you don't have a good pass forward, turn around and play it back, start again and try a different angle of attack.

Owain Fôn Williams claimed a fourth clean sheet with the help of Carlyle Mitchell left.

That being said, we defeated the reigning champions who came into the game as league leaders, they should be saying the same things about themselves, but never let that be an excuse to not seek improvement. I always remind myself we almost completely overhauled our squad, we are still finding ourselves and we played against a team that has changed very little after winning the USL Championship in 2017. Also, Tyler Pasher was nowhere to be seen.

These problems in attack will sort themselves out, and imagine what we will be like when they do!

Our defensive abilities in every single inch of the field from Jack Mac back to Owain continually amazes me. Carlyle was phenomenal yesterday as was Ouimette and they get stronger together each match. Ayoze was probably man of the match even if it ended 0-0 and Venegas coming back in never missed a beat. Matern and Watson looked like they breathed defensive mindedness as soon as they woke up in the morning. This back four is probably the one we will see most, and look at who we have to come in Rusin, Ferriera, Ring, Moses... excuse me for salivating.

After yesterday I am giving Jack McInerney the nickname of Geronimo, brave, fearless, tireless, afraid of nothing. He might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he certainly is mine. Each to their own but I like a tough player with an attitude, and especially one who works as hard as him. That's also why I like Brad Ring, I am so proud he got his 100th game and I hope also Jack reaches that milestone in a blue shirt as well.

Match reaction from Caleb Ramp...

It feels wrong to disparage three points against the reigning champions and a team which – up to yesterday – had been undefeated in 2018. The importance of the squad’s impressive defensive performance should also not be overlooked. Three days removed from conceding three, Rennie’s men buckled down and secured their first clean sheet at Lucas Oil Stadium – doing so against the highest scoring team in the USL. It may have been a fortunate victory, but a victory it was nonetheless.

We're not getting paid to figure out problems, this guy is, and we're pretty sure he's on top of it.

A win against the league leaders coming into the game is certainly something the Indy Eleven can be proud of, but there is undoubtedly room for improvement – especially in the final third. The 2018 version of the Indy Eleven is more reliant on isolating a defender and attacking them in a 1v1 off the dribble than any version of the team we’ve ever seen. There seems to be very few one or two-touch passes with penetrating off-ball movement. 

When we are unable to get around a defender, our next move is to almost always look for a foul. While there’s something to be said for wanting to set up a Soony Saad free kick, this style of play is neither sustainable nor entertaining. Statistically, Indy is 27th in the USL in total number of passes, and 25th in passing accuracy. That’s not nearly good enough.

That isn’t to say there aren’t flashes of attacking brilliance, nor should Indy fans be concerned with their spot in the league table. I would, however, like to see a focus on more ball movement, more off-ball movement, and significantly more Justin Braun.


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