Three Lessons: Indy Eleven struggle against ATL Silverbacks

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The first of three matches in a week saw Indy Eleven fall to the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks from a first half goal from former Indy Eleven player Pedro Mendes as the final score was 1-0 in favor of the visitors.. Indy faced an odd challenge as they were again without key names as captain and central defender Erick Norales sat out his first of two matches from the suspension last week and Dylan Mares, the young attacking central midfielder who leads the team in goals and assists recovers from knee surgery that took place earlier in the week. Replacing both of those players were returning central defender Cory Miller and new loan signee, former Butler University and current Houston Dynamo midfielder, Zach Steinberger.

Three Lessons: Indy Eleven struggle against ATL Silverbacks

  1. Zach Steinberger will be good for this team, but not yet. Steinberger started training with the team the day after he arrived, giving him zero time to rest. This gave him the perfect chance to secure a starting spot in the starting eleven, sliding in where Dylan Mares normally played but didn’t provide the same outcome. Steinberger had a few nice plays in the first half but it is apparent more time to gel with the team is needed. Interim Head Coach Tim Regan agreed, saying after the game “For Zach, just like it was for Dane [Richards] where it’s going to take time to get into the team. I thought he performed well tonight when he got on the ball. It’s going to get cleaner as time goes on and he’s going to get more comfortable with the players too. Overall, the game impacts him negatively because it’s slow and the ball doesn’t have a whole lot of time on the field. There’s a lot of stoppages and slowness to the game and we weren’t able to speed it up when we had control of it.” Zach was able to free up some nice plays in the first half, and was involved with a number of scoring chances but was pretty silent after the 35 minute mark.
  2. Erick Norales plays a huge role in the backline. Norales, who was originally only to miss the Atlanta Silverbacks game, was given an extra game suspension due to headbutt of a New York Cosmos player during the Cosmos visit a week ago. Tim Regan noticed a difference, saying after the match, “Erick has been our best player all year. When he’s off the field it’s obviously going to hurt the team. Now, would he have won the game for us tonight? I’m not sure. But clearly with our captain and most steady performer off the field, losing him hurts the team.” While Cory Miller and Greg Janicki are both quality centerbacks who could both start for any North American Soccer League club as well as a number of Major League Soccer clubs without the experienced 30 year old directing traffic. Erick Norales will be available for selection when NASL Combined and Fall season leaders, Ottawa Fury, come to town.
  3. Finally, Indy Eleven seem to be struggling with the play of their forwards as on loan New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards again got the start over Charlie Rugg, Wojciech Wojchik, and a recovering Duke Lacriox. Dane is no stranger to being up top, as he certainly has the speed and ability to play up top but it seems that it’s difficult for him to find the space to make a big enough effort in that area. Cory Miller said after the match, ““I thought [a goal] was absolutely coming. We decided to settle down and play the ball and stop getting so nervous when we were getting under pressure. We kept getting in because they were reckless in the way they were pressing. We finally got in and figured it out, but we just couldn’t finish.” Tim Regan might rotate ahead of Wednesday’s trip to FC Edmonton, but something needs to change in order for Indy Eleven to start scoring without Dylan Mares feeding up top.

The outcome of the game was obviously not ideal, but a young team shouldn’t focus on the result. With a number of matches still waiting in the remaining weeks of the NASL Fall season, Indy Eleven can sit comfortable but avoid complacency as they travel to FC Edmonton Wednesday.