Sunday, September 2, 2018

Looking for the lessons - Indy Eleven V Richmond Kickers REVIEW

Captain Brad Ring keeps his eye on the ball — and the bigger picture. Is a 1-1 tie against a team with a record like Richmond's a bummer? Yes. Are we still unbeaten after an 8-game test of strength and endurance? Yes.
Are we still playoff contenders? Hell yes!  (Photos by Matt Schlotzhauer, courtesy of Indy Eleven)

By: REBECCA TOWNSEND (aka The Pitch Bitch)

Maybe it was a matter of overconfidence. (After all, the opposing team was entering the match with the worst defensive record in the entire United Soccer League.) Maybe they were tired. (After all, they were entering their sixth of a 7-games-in-22-days gauntlet.)

Maybe the heat just got to everyone. Maybe everyone needs Labor Day vacation.

The Pitch Bitch knows something was off — or maybe it is more accurate to say something wasn't quite on. Because she has watched Indy Eleven (11-7-9) build its chemistry over the course of this season, she knows the talent and the potential existed to unleash a torrent of goals on the visiting Richmond Kickers, a team that arrived with the distinction of allowing the most goals in the entire USL.

Soony Saad on the move.
She also believes that the game of soccer exists to teach lessons and press its adherents to better performance on mental, physical and spiritual planes. So the goal the Kickers scored at 4-something minutes into the game underscored a lesson most profound.

As she watched unpressured midfielder Raul Gonzalez make a simple, beautiful jog to receive a pass from the flank (a pass that ultimately eluded four Indy guys) — a pass he sweetly redirected with one touch into Indy's net, she recalled one of the sweetest, most profound lessons of futbol: Be ever vigilant — especially in the early minutes of the game.

She flashed back to college practice, running suicide sprints for two minutes because her team was scored upon in the first two minutes of their previous match. 

Her coach wanted the team to remember that for those opening two minutes (just as we would be in the rest of the game), we needed to be tougher, harder and faster.

Indy's head coach Martin Rennie likely has more civilized methods of dealing with teams who are scored upon in the first five minutes. In this case, vacation. He knows his lads need a few days to lick their wounds before they host the second-to-last of their Wednesday night games of the season when they host the New York Red Bulls II on Wed., Sept. 5. The Bulls (10-7-10) currently sit just under Indy in the USL Eastern Conference Standings.

The Pitch Bitch was tired during the Indy/Kickers game. The game notes were sparse. 

Dylan Mares' equalizer off a 50-yard, field-switching, laser-sighted pass from Venezuelan international Juan Guerra said it all really. That is the stuff we are capable of.

Dylan Mares has a mean strike. And his willingness to shoot from out wide ensured that Indy would walk away from the field with a 1-1 tie, instead of losing to the team with the worst defensive record in the league.

The assist was beautiful. And as the Pitch Bitch watched young Hoosier Mares square his shoulders up on that goal frame, she knew he was going to score. As he prepared to shake one last defender before launching a shot of such speed and strength that the diving keeper could do nothing but hear that disheartening swish of the ball landing in his net, she could read it in his body language.

"We are too f*cking good to be losing to this team! We will not lose to this team! It is time to score!"

That is exactly right. It's time to score! And, by golly, we are going to concede fewer goals!

Let's get some rest and keep the big picture in perspective. Indy still sits at sixth — and we know what we are capable of moving forward. The team has managed to stay unbeaten during an 8-game slog.

Captain Brad Ring (Go Hoosiers!) summed it up nicely on Twitter:

Post-match USL Eastern Conference Standings.

Just three home games remain ahead of the playoffs. The season will conclude with a Wednesday game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Sept. 26 and Bethlehem Steel FC on Oct. 6.  (The final three home games will be broadcast on MyIndy 23 TV.) Kickoff time for all these matches is 7 p.m.

Fans may also consider a road trip to Cincinnati on Sept. 29, when Indy will visit the league leader.

Fee-free tickets are available for purchase through the Brickyard Battalion supporters club at The team has plenty of good deals, as well, at