|Watching Indy's away match from the Brickyard Battalion's Broad Ripple home: Union Jack|
By: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)
(Union Jack Pub, Broad Ripple, Indianapolis) — Nashville SC had a lot riding on the match it hosted Tuesday night against Indy Eleven: The club hadn't been beaten in league play since April 14, not since the last time they met Indy Eleven. And they'd never been beaten — or even trailed — at home.
This time, even home advantage was no help: Indy dominated, 2-0. A shutout that launched the club to 4th in the Eastern Conference and a 4-1-2 record on the road.
Karl Ouimette is the Pitch Bitch Man of the Match (even though the whole team deserves to share credit for working together so well!) because he played solid defense but also galvanized the evening's attack. In the opening minutes, he made a great defensive stick which neutralized a worrisome Nashville effort toward the goal. Then, after a header from Justin Braun was deflected out of bounds by host keeper Matt Pickens, Ouimette's head connected with Ayoze's incoming corner to put the visitors up 1 with the majority of the first half still to play.
And speaking of good headers ... Thanks to Ayoze's positioning and quick reflexes on Indy's goal line during a second-half Nashville set piece, a ball headed straight for the back of the net instead was redirected out into the field of play. The broadcasters (whose narrative was running about 5 seconds ahead of the accompanying video feed, by the way, which enabled those of us watching at the pub to learn we scored before we could actually see the ball in the net) were smitten. "Ayoze, clever on the line," one of the men comments. "He really can do it all! This guy's amazing, one of my favorites in the back!"]
Nashville dominated shots in the first half (9 to Indy's 4) and held the majority of possession, but Indy made the most of their time on the ball. This efficiency in working as a unit is evolving with Indy and its incredibly talented and versatile roster of players, which is unsettling opponents unsure of from what angle or with what tools the Eleven will strike.
Indy keeper Owain Fôn Williams definitely found himself in some tight spots, but he remained on point throughout the match and managed to hold on to a shutout while his field players kept working. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Justin Braun launched a longshot from the left corner of the 18 (from the attacker's perspective) across the mouth of the goal. The shot did not appear to be super threatening, but Pickens could not keep the ball contained and it found the far-post corner to give the visitors a two-point advantage that held solid for the rest of the match.
|A hot and sweaty but successful night for Indy and the traveling support.|
The win was not for a lack of effort on Nashville's part. They were just outclassed by Indy. A Kevin Venegas shot that ricocheted into the path of Jack McInerney almost gave Indy a three-point advantage before the half. Even though this and all subsequent efforts did not find the net, the pressure was phenomenal, even as the team recovered when defensive duties called — working together to neutralize what at times were very potent threats.
Seth Moses had a great defensive presence and good connectivity with Matt Watson in the midfield, which stopped many of the host's efforts from developing and planted the seeds for many gallant counter attacks from their own squad. But it really is impossible to choose favorites because, from back to front, the team was a cohesive unit. And the work rate was impressive. For instance, just before the half, an errant pass from McInerney led to a turnover. But instead of accepting the loss, McInerney chased down the interceptor and stole the ball back. Good form.
Around the 70th minute, Nashville launched a threatening attack that had the defense scrambling to organize its pressure and cover. But Indy did manage efficient and effective resource allocation, slowing the player with the ball and manning up on all his friends quickly enough for the Indy midfield to drop in and provide the necessary cover. Minutes later, Venegas neutralizes another Nashville effort with a slide tackle that was at once both tough and beautiful.
Indy will close out a successful month by hosting Penn FC on June 30. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets are available at IndyEleven.com and (if you want to avoid a fee and support the supporters) at brickyardbattalion.com/byb-tix/. A mid-week, holiday match at Lucas Oil will follow: The USL selected Indy's at-home July 4th match against Ottawa FC as its Game of the Week.
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A footnote bitch: While noticing that the temporomandibular joint of the Nashville FC coach was at risk because, not only is he a gum chewer, but he chews it like he wants to kill it with aggressive maceration, she began to worry about his health. But then she watched him spit his wad straight out on the field. No trash can. Gross. Who does such a thing? An 8-year-old maybe, but a coach?! Minutes later, he was chomping on another piece. Indy will not meet Nashville again in regular season 2018 games, but if and when this dude returns to the Circle City, operations better keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't try to defile our facilities with his uncouth style.