Indy Eleven went through a big change last week when the club’s first ever head coach Juergen Sommer was let go by the club, with Assistant Coach Tim Regan taking over as interim immediately upon the announcement of Sommer’s departure. It wasn’t a difficult transition for the team but with any change in any sport you run the risk of your team struggling to gel and blend which has been something that Indy has dealt with all season.
A change in the team dynamic was evident, but it was difficult to really put faith in the team being able to grab three points. You can use the words “steal” when describing the late goal but nonetheless, the Tim Regan-era has begun in Indianapolis, and no one could be any happier than the fans after Indy Eleven defeated the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 on the road Saturday night.
Victor Pineda shines as Indy Eleven earns three points
During the press conference on Tuesday announcing the firing of Juergen Sommer, Tim Regan made it clear that the changes you’d see during the match Saturday weren’t going to be crazy. Subtle changes, from the way the Boys in Blue moved and defended were expected, and those expectations were met as Indy Eleven showed what else they could do compared to the quality of play they had in the previous games.
We still saw your typical Indy Eleven play with the occasional unneeded long ball and poor passing that killed build up play from the backline, but what we also saw was confidence from the players on the field.. Confidence that had been lacking since the team’s April match in San Antonio.
One of the bright spots was the play of Victor Pineda. Pineda was on loan from the Chicago Fire last year, but with his option not being picked up by the MLS side, he was quickly signed to Indy Eleven. “Going all the way back to last year, Victor built up very well in 2014, and then he had an injury to start off this season. Players are impatient after injuries and they think things come immediately,” Interim Head Coach Tim Regan said after Saturday’s win. ”Anytime a player scores two goals we’re obviously happy for him and for the team. He continues to get better and better every week.”
Work not over yet for Indy Eleven
Like Indy Eleven, the Strikers had been struggling to score coming into Saturday night’s match, going goal-less since an April thrashing of the Ottawa Fury. Regardless, they still managed to pull the trigger first and grabbed a lead in the early part of the match. Pressure from the Strikers continually forced Indy to foul in dangerous areas, or play the ball out of danger giving the Strikers numerous corners. Fortunately for Indy, Fort Lauderdale couldn’t capitalize on those chances, as wave after wave of attack came at Indy.
The largest weakness that was found on the defensive of side was just issues marking and not having everyone follow the ball. A number of chances from the Strikers came from quick passing followed by equally quick shots.
From the offensive side, Charlie Rugg hasn’t been the player that Indy Eleven was hoping for when they gained his loan from LA Galaxy. It seems they either need to either rework his role, get him into a place to gain more confidence, or possibly put in Wojciech Wojcik to give the poaching Brian Brown more ways to the ball.
The victory nonetheless was humbling for the team as Tim Regan said after the game, he knows what the right mentality going forward should be for Indy. “Clearly with the result it was satisfying, but if it goes the other way we’re talking about a different feeling. That’s how close the game is in the NASL and that’s how close it was tonight. We talk about not only the effort, but on the bad plays really backing up each other up. There were some good moments out there tonight and we’ll try to build on that.”
The focus now turns to Indy Eleven ending the Spring season with a win as they host FC Edmonton at the Mike on Saturday. The question of whether or not it was the right time for Juergen Sommer to be fired is no longer an issue and Indy Eleven seem poised to finish strong in the Spring and bring that momentum into the Fall Season.
Photo Courtesy of Indy Eleven