|Never a good sight as Indy scores the only goal of the evening. (Photo: James Cormack)|
By: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)
(Lucas Oil Stadium, INDIANAPOLIS) — The death blow was so quick and quiet it took a moment for the awful truth to resonate: In trying to block an incoming freekick, stalwart defender Carlyle Mitchell had instead redirected the ball's trajectory in a way no one could have predicted, scoring a dreaded "own goal."
So it was that visiting Ottawa Fury gained a 1-0 advantage in the 28th minute.
The score didn't budge for the rest of the heat-soaked match at Lucas Oil Stadium-turned sauna. And it wasn't for lack of effort. Mitchell, for instance, was involved in the forward-motivated attack rhythms of the team from the game's opening minutes — and was fouled early on as he tried to move forward to connect with a teammate.
Mitchell also deserves credit for an excellent fully extended tackle to strip the ball from an in-the-box attacker threatening to launch a pass in front of the goal mouth. (On that note: Mitchell deserves much more credit than he has received thus far for his consistent and effective approach to anchoring the central defense. In fact, aside from Indy goalie Owain Fôn Williams, who has started 16 matches, Mitchell's record of starting 15 matches and playing 1,249 minutes is unmatched by his peers. Ayoze has more minutes, but not more starts or games played, while Justin Braun has as many starts but about half the minutes at 637.)
|Despite an own goal Mitchell made many critical tackles during the 90 (Photo: James Cormack)|
Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie took some time to reflect on the evening's lessons:
"The way I look at it: We gave the ball away, then we gave it away again, then we gave the free kick. So three or four errors before they got the free kick and then, obviously, a mistake. And one we had a lot of time to put right and we didn't.
All we can do now is recover and do our best to have more energy than that in the next game. It's extremely hot. The stadium doesn't let any air come in. It's hard to breathe but it's the same for both teams. And in a game like that, where we're chasing the game, it obviously makes it difficult.
I thought we had a lot of chances. I was pleased with the players' desire in the second half. I thought we pushed and pushed and pushed. We changed the way we played. We got the ball forward a lot. We had a lot of attackers on there, we had a lot of crosses, a couple shots off target. Their goalkeeper made some good saves — a good save from the overhead kick.
Some nights we have to say, 'It's not our night.' We've had nights where it has been and we're obviously right in a good position (on the standings table) — disappointed, though, because that was a chance to really move us right up there tonight and we missed it.
|Indy Eleven missed the opportunity to close the gap on the top after a great June (Photo: James Cormack)|
The concentration when it's nil-nil. Because that's two games where we've lost a goal and then we're chasing the game a little bit instead of being in control of the game and creating chances from a position of strength.
In the last two games, we've lost a goal we shouldn't have lost and we lost the first goal in the game, and that has meant that we're then chasing the game and not making good decisions on the ball or around the box. We really have to improve on that. At home, as well, with a lot of fans here to see and we didn't manage to put the ball in the net, so that's disappointing.
For us, there's ups and downs in a season. We know that. It's about getting to the right place in the end. Learning from the mistakes that we've made and pushing on. There's nothing we can do about that (the past) now. We can analyze it and move on."
— The Pitch Bitch (@IndyPitchBitch) July 5, 2018
[Humble Pitch Bitch apologies for her most critical field error of the evening — made on the verge of heat exhaustion: In preparing to Tweet the post-game interview with Coach Rennie, dyslexic transposition suggested an imposter stood in for the interview. Be assured this is, indeed Martin Rennie, not Rennie Martin. My bad, Coach.]
For your reading pleasure, a synopsis of the Pitch Bitch game notes:
Colin Falvey: You tried to act all innocent early in Wednesday's game, but you know you totally pushed Ben Speas in the back. (Did you have an unsettled grudge or is that just your way of telling Ben you missed him and wish you could touch him a little more than the rules allowed?)
|It wouldn't be an Indy V Ottawa game without physicality and some tetchy moments (Photo: James Cormack)|
Minutes after Falvey's fondling of Speas, Jack McInerney was taken down and the foul wasn't called.
The players' aggression got so intense that before the game was even 15 minutes old, the ref is literally screaming at Ottawa's Adonijah Reid, "Stop it! Stop it!" after Reid pulled a dirty move on Indy captain Matt Watson. Reid continued to earn reprimands, including a yellow card after a pull-down in the 20th minute. On the whole, Ottawa earned four yellow cards on the evening to Indy's one (Juan Guerra in the 26th minute for jersey grabbing) — and the visitors were lucky not to earn more than a yellow for the extremely unsportsmanlike conduct of Ottawa captain Carl Haworth. Haworth did receive maybe a little heavy shoulder from Ayoze as the two sprinted down the sideline to control a ball at the corner. But then, once the ball was out of play, Haworth pushed Ayoze down in the tunnel leading off the field. Nothing but dirty.
Speaking of unsportsmanlike: Zach Steinberger, we suspect you were bored on tonight's uber-talented bench, but you were observed playing head games with your guest when he was trying to retrieve a ball from you on the sideline. You weren't going to throw it to him. You were going to make him walk to you and take it out of your hands. Then, when he went to grab it, you dropped. OK, yes, it was funny (she writes full of shame in finding joy in others' humiliation) ... But, aren't the new marching orders from our leaders at FIFA to "Live Futbol" now? Just pondering the question, bro, 'cause it comes down to karma, right? And, in the end, karma knocked us on cocky little asses tonight, didn't it?
(We must admit, however, if we're talking about karma, that Ottawa really deserves to suck it for their heavy-handed style. And we will make them suck it by the end of the season, if the plan unfolds as conceived...)
|Ayoze locks out Howarth in the second half. (Photo: James Cormack)|
Still, Indy kept hammering... Ayoze had a strong shot Crepeau did well to block, though he couldn't control the ball, the Indy additional runners just couldn't quite get there to hammer the deflection across the line. Juan Guerra should be credited with one of the best-camouflaged switches this evening, as he managed to keep Ottawa's defense flowing one way while he shifted his approach and launched a pass that was almost on. (The Bitch would like to see more switching passes strung on the turf with shorter, faster connections.) Watson had a nice volley on frame, but also into keeper Maxime Crepeau's hands. McInerney had a helluva nice bicycle kick, placing the ball on frame, but Crepeau was maximally effective in his position and shut down what would have been a huge Indy party.
McInerney and Guerra almost connect in 74th minute...
Guerra also was fouled just outside the Ottawa box for an excellent free kick opportunity in the 79th minute. But the team's signals/timing misfired and possession rolled away.
Even the dynamic, 73rd-minute, super-sub duo of Justin Braun and Tyler Pasher (finally back to the field after a months-long injury) could not penetrate Ottawa's defenses.
And speaking of penetration and defense. Perhaps the most valuable bit of video from the evening might be found around the 89th minute when Ottawa's Tony Taylor penetrated two Indy defenders deep in Indy's defensive third. The strategy could be improved in this instance.
|Indy players got great closeups of the turf throughout the match. (Photo: James Cormack)|
Ottawa is coming off a brutal June and had an overall road record of 2-5-1 heading into tonight's match. Stealing the win from the U.S. hosts on Independence Day probably tasted extra sweet for the downtrodden guests.
Let's hope the evening was a success for Indy's HVAF, which works to provide housing, employment help and all kinds of wrap-around services for the hundreds of homeless veterans that live in Indianapolis. People can text HVAFHELPS to 24700 to send a donation in support of HVAF's important work and as an Independence Day recognition that freedom comes at a price — a bill that soldiers pay far beyond their fair share.