New Season, Same Old Questions
We are now officially nine games into the 2023 USL Championship season, and it’s starting to feel like a repeat of recent years for the Indy Eleven. Indy sits at just nine points through nine games with only having scored eight goals for and 13 goals against, in that same time frame. The team sits just one spot and one point out of the playoffs with a record of 2-4-3. While this might seem to be a little early to start the “we are about to miss the playoffs again” rant, Let’s take a look at how the team has gotten to this point.
Game one was down in Tampa Bay, with an empty scoreboard at the end of the first half, things were looking good. In the 57’, Tampa Bay put one in the back of the net. Indy would trail right up to the end of stoppage time, where Aodhan Quinn is awarded a penalty, which he then proceeds to bury bringing Indy their first goal and point of the new season. Indy followed that by making a trip to Hamtramck to battle DCFC. While that game saw the Eleven score the loan goal in the 62’, it was a game of all the weather. That game saw very high winds and a mix of rain, sleet, and snow. Indy would then make their home debut at the Mike. They hosted Las Vegas Lights and that game was…disappointing to say the least. Coming off two very big results, fans were hopeful to see their team win at home. A win was not seen that night, a draw was. You may ask “why is that disappointing?” well this is how. Indy had an impressive EIGHTY PERCENT possession with 10 shots, 4 of which on goal.
Fans did get to see the Indy Eleven get their first win and it just so happened to be in the U.S Open Cup Play against the Michigan Stars. The next game however was the first stab of the season. Indy hosted Neveal Hackshaw and his new team, the Oakland Roots. Indy once again had the majority of the possession, they had 15 shots and 6 on goal. But that wasn’t enough, Indy took their first loss of the 2023 season with a 3-0 scoreline in favor of Oakland. The team would follow it up with a road trip to Orange County. OC was given an early penalty and it went in giving OC a 1-0 lead, which would be the final score of the game. Indy came back home again to host Monterey Bay. A 2-1 halftime lead for the 11 gave fans some hope that they would receive three points at home, however MBFC had other plans. Scoring 2 goals in a matter of 5 minutes, MBFC would go on to win 3-2. Back to back home games then saw Pittsburgh come to town and another draw added to their record.
Indy then made a trip out to Leesburg Virginia to play Loudoun United. Indy would see their first win in league play since that win in Detroit. With that and a women's game that ended in an 8-0 win, which isn’t shocking at all, the team decided to make a bit of a change. Just one day before a trip back out to California, Indy decided to make a transfer. Indy brought defender Macauley King back to the Circle City. And in return, the Indy Eleven sent forward Joans Fjeldberg to Colorado. A team that has been struggling to find any offensive continuity, just sent away an offensive piece, to pick up a defensive piece. A questionable move for sure, but the defense hasn’t necessarily been stellar either. Whether it’s a keeper issue, a defenders issue, or a scheme issue is yet to be seen, however the team can and has created many chances on goal, they just haven't been able to finish when it matters. The Indy Eleven then made their trip to Sacramento and the defensive weakness shined as bright as possible. Indy would go down 2-0 in the first ten minutes and the game would end in a 3-1 loss.
Many fans have spoken their voices about thoughts on the team, and I know that my opinion means absolutely nothing but here it is. This team is a confusing bunch. A team that had many issues last year has completely rebuilt itself, and there is officially no player left from the Martin Rennie era in Indy. Mark Lowry completely rebuilt this team to be the team HE wanted. The first games looked good but since then, the Indy Eleven have struggled with the same things that were popping up last year. A struggling offense with defense that has more holes than a package of swiss cheese, just doesn’t mix very well. Pair that with a team that has issues with defending a lead and a coach who shows no emotion in post game pressers, whether it's good or bad, and it leads to many questions. While the season is still very young and there is a lot of time to fix it, the path to fixing it seems clouded. Mark Lowry was brought in to help rebuild this team and get Indy back to playoffs prominence. Last year is hard to judge since it was a mixed bag of Mark’s style and the old style of Indy Eleven ball. This year however, it’s all Lowry. How does the season change? Well I guess we'll see through the final 5 months of play.