Monday, August 29, 2016

On The Road Again Pt.2 - Recap/Preview - New York Cosmos V Indy Eleven (8/31/2016)

Should Duke be seeing more time on the field? Yes he should!

By: James Cormack

With a chance to make good on road points against Ottawa on Sunday, Indy Eleven struggled to gain one, and again came from behind to save themselves from defeat against the Fury as we did in Spring. It was the second of three consecutive road games and one that Indy really needed to capitalize on after losing all three in Carolina.

The starting lineup was mostly as expected but for one player, it was time to try something different and Indy started with Omar Gordon but not in a forward position alongside Zayed. From the outset Indy went with a 4-5-1 formation and brought Omar back on the left side, moving Dylan Mares into a more central position in front of Ring and Paterson and behind Éamon Zayed. Colin Falvey also started the game in place of Cory Miller.

Indy Eleven is a different team away from home, this much is obvious not just on the strength of the match on Sunday, we don't play with the same confidence and belief as we do at home. We fail to take the game to our opponents and we somehow lack a killer instinct or cohesion on the road.

Too many times we allowed Ottawa Fury a trouble free path towards our 18 yard box, we learned in both of the previous matches against Ottawa this year they are not a team that is just going to sit back and give you an easy time of it, in this particular match Indy Eleven did just that. I remember at one period in the first half wondering how Jamar Dixon could take the ball from one final third to the other without so much as even an attempt at closing him down. 

This was typical of the way we approached the game, we let them come at us with a view to playing counter attacking football and wear them out, but more often than not we resorted to playing long ball out of the back and gifting back possession, instead of playing out from the back on the ground, it was something akin to what we were used to in 2014 and 2015 and perhaps the first couple of games in 2016. Very poor football. Sorry if that offends anyone but that is what was on display, it was a level of play far beneath what this team is capable of.

The first half in Ottawa ended 0-0, we failed to capitalize on any of our chances, we also failed to create many, as a result and not surprisingly we went behind first in the second half. Not for the first time the defensive ability of our whole team was lacking in the attack which led to Ottawa's opening goal.

Nobody was really closing down the play in the middle of the park effectively, Ottawa were able to make a through pass from almost the half way line and the receiving player had two center backs around him and was still able to draw the foul, and it was a foul, we labored and as you have to do some times we took the player down. 

Cannot really blame Busch for the goal either, Ryan Williams 59th minute fizzing free kick took a wicked bounce, Busch came to gather but could not. Pay attention to when the ball went into the net, two Ottawa players were there to meet it, all of our team were behind them. it was the difference between players paying attention and reacting, and players who did not react soon enough. We had switched off in that instance, as we had many times throughout the game.

In typical fashion Indy Eleven dug it out and came back, it's a shame we had to be woken up by losing a goal, but that at times is what we do best. Less than five minutes later a free kick on the left side from Vukovic floated in front of goal met the back of Zayed's head, the ball spilled out and Brad Ring was there to pounce and blast the ball home for his first NASL goal of 2016.

Unsuccessful passes, crosses and set plays.
From that point the game pretty much went back to the same as the first half. 
Indy Eleven had only one shot on target in the entirety of the game, it did go in but still, one shot on target in 90+ minutes, and I believe we only had 5 shots total in the whole match. Our missed passes, crosses and set plays criss cross the stat map like a very tightly woven tapestry. 

Our performance as a team in the last two games is several levels beneath what we know we are capable of. We gave up a lead twice and lost in Carolina to a team who got demolished 6-1 by our next opponents the New York Cosmos.

We fell behind and rescued one point against a team in the bottom three in combined points who have only won 5 of their 21 games to date. (no offense Fury fans). I am not over expecting, and neither am I indulging in football snobbery, as an Indy Eleven supporter I know my place and don't feel entitled to win every game, we have the best team right now that we have ever had, but I have to admit we can do much better than this. One away win in 2016.

Our road form is poor and there is no signs of it improving, our performance away is also vastly different from how we play at home. There is no cast iron guarantee we will play in the Soccer Bowl at home if we reach the final, the team must prepare itself for playing in New York, Edmonton, Miami, Minnesota or elsewhere in the final, the best way to do that is cultivate a winning attitude away from home.

What do we expect to happen in New York...

As we know, up until Spring of 2016 both the Cosmos and Indy Eleven were two teams who could not beat each other, that was until Indy Eleven came back from a goal down to defeat the New York 2-1 before pushing on to win the Spring Championship. It seems a long time ago, we pulled off a miracle at the end of Spring and knocked them off the top of the table. The Cosmos have never beaten us, we should try to keep it that way.

New York are top of the table against thanks to a huge 6-1 win over Carolina Railhawks. The Cosmos have taken 16 points from a possible 18 in their six games at home in fall, they have won five and only drawn one game against Rayo OKC. Needless to say we are heading to one of the toughest venues to be at right now.

NYC have scored 18 goals in six home games in fall so far. Indy Eleven have conceded 9 in their 5 road games of fall. Indy only conceded 8 goals in Spring in 10 games home and away, let that sink in for a moment then tell me I have no reason to be concerned. We have only played 11 games in fall and already have conceded 15 goals, one short of double the amount we gave up in spring.

Had Indy Eleven managed to win 3 points in Ottawa, as I said in my match preview I would be quite happy to let the Cosmos game take care of itself, coming home with 3pts from 3 road games would not have disappointed me too much should we lose. As it is we have only 1, and if we want to have any chance of winning the fall season we need to stop New York from winning this game, a win would be fantastic, a point would be a great achievement.

If Indy Eleven traveled with only the players they will use for both games, then we don't have too many options to change the lineup to find a winning formula. We can't change the defense, but we can try different options to help us find goals, and find them first.

I am not against starting in the formation we did against Ottawa, but if it is up to me I am not starting Omar Gordon, I am starting Duke Lacroix. Also I am dipping into my own pocket to pay for Jair Reinoso's flight to New York if he is fit enough to even play two thirds of a game.

We need a different option in attack and players need to know if they are under performing then please sit down. Duke Lacroix, like Don Smart on the right, is an unselfish player, very difficult to take the ball from, he has pace and will most likely look to play in his team mates rather than run himself into a hole.

The quickest way to stop a team who just scored six is to score on them first and put them on the back foot, make them think. Indy can't afford to just go out and let the other team play and hope to soak it up as they did in Ottawa, we will get demolished very quickly. We need to take the game to New York, go for it you may as well, you can't play for a 0-0 draw against this team.

If Reinoso can be made available for this game then I would rest Mares at the start but with some time in second half and save him for the home game against Tampa. Likewise rotate Torrado for Paterson and start Duke Lacroix. Had we won against Ottawa I would have rested Falvey, we didn't so I would start him again.

I would however consider resting Janicki, who may possibly be carrying a knock and looked tired in the Ottawa game. Palmer played great defensively on Sunday, but we need to see him play the ball out of the back more instead of booting it up the field and back into the feet of our opponents.

Show us the Indy Eleven who find nothing to be impossible, who can rise to any challenge, I am missing that team. Stop at nothing, never give up. Don't rely on coming back late, grab the game by the throat from the start.

My Starting XI: Busch, Palmer, Falvey, Miller, Vukovic, Smart, Ring, Torrado, Lacroix, Reinoso, Zayed.

As always 
Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation are supporting Playworks Indiana children's charity with our #EamonZayedRule initiative. We are donating money for every goal Éamon Zayed scores this year and you can choose to play along or just make a one off donation to help us reach our target of $2000. Click Here for More Information.

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