The Pitch Bitch, episode three

Cory Miller v Deltas sept 2 2017 coIndyEleven

Cory Miller returned to Indy Eleven’s defensive line Sept 2. after a 10-month absence for ankle reconstruction and rehab. The visiting San Francisco Deltas kept him — and his teammates — quite busy. (Photo courtesy of Indy Eleven via NASL’s Twitter feed.)

Deltas blues hits Indy

San Francisco Deltas defeat Indy Eleven 2-0

Indy Eleven and the San Francisco Deltas have been teasing each other throughout 2017. They opened with a 1-1 draw on March 25 in San Francisco, followed by a 0-0 April game in Indy and a 2-2 match back on the West Coast in June.

At halftime on September 2 in Indianapolis, the Deltas were up 1-0. With more than 8,700 in attendance pressing them on, Indy launched several attacking efforts throughout the second half. But an equalizing goal remained elusive — and the Deltas left the field for the night as the dominant team. In fact, in the 88th minute, the visitors added one more goal for good measure. In stoppage time, they fired one more point blank scorcher. Indy goalie Jon Busch denied that effort.

Final score 0-2.

The first half tested Indy’s defensive capabilities. The Pitch Bitch was delighted to see the return of Cory Miller to the defensive backline. As one might expect for a player returning to his first match after a 10-month absence in injury rehab, he had some lapses, which his teammates could (mostly) cover. He certainly had his hands full — as did the rest of the D — with the Deltas’ relentless attacks from all angles. But he brought the type of raw physicality necessary to keep the Deltas (mostly) in check — as did Falvey. Falvey will be haunted by San Francisco’s second goal (see the video below in which the Deltas’ Pablo Dyego plays Gerardo Torrado, Falvey and Busch), but he’d do well to remember that he had many important plays throughout the game and deserves special credit for a solid tackle early on that delayed the attacker and the ball long enough for defense to reset and disarm an immediate, point-blank threat. At another point, the Delta’s Devon Sandoval ripped Falvey down in the box — but Falvey and his teammates remained cool-headed — and for the next several minutes, in control of their box.

Last night’s video footage will provide examples of how individual players could make adjustments to address some tactical deficiencies (adjustments from Vuko, Miller and Ring could have potentially neutralized the Pablo Dyego/Michael Stephens combo that led to the first goal), but there is much to praise. Much talent, physicality and experience. Miller and Falvey as central backs with Marco Franco and Nemanja Vukovic outside, Brad Ring providing extra coverage and Busch backing the whole operation seems to the Pitch Bitch to provide a solid defensive foundation from which Indy can build.

Speaking of building, last night’s notes indicate that Indy is building plays out of the back. And she likes the speed and tight passing through the midfield and into the attacking half. The next trick will be slowing transitions into attack — and even actual attacks — enough that they are not frenetic. It’s a tough order to slow play down only to speed up, but the talent exists the guys can begin to breathe and have more fun as they connive to pull their opponents out of position. The potential is present.

Indy’s offensive highlights from the night include a good crack from Ben Speas at 13 minutes, which flew over the net. David Goldsmith had a great look dishing a diving header opportunity to Eamon Zayed. Though it was inches out of the flying Irishman’s reach, it’s an exercise worth repeating as it promises to pay goal-sized dividends.

Losses are tough. On keepers as much as anyone. So this episode will conclude with an appreciation of Busch, who recently played his 500th match as a professional match. The Pitch Bitch has had a long-time saying that “it takes a special kind of crazy to be a keeper.” She is not sure where they come from — or how every team seems to have one or two materialize on their behalf. Busch has been a source of consistent amazement. He is 41 — ancient in pro soccer terms — yet his athleticism enables some of the most amazing saves ever performed at Michael Carroll Stadium. And let’s not forget: The man is flinging himself about on pitiful, unforgiving turf. (Would that the city’s political leaders figure out a way to provide its pro soccer team with the lush grass that world-class players expect and deserve!!!!) Busch has saved Indy’s ass SO MANY TIMES. In last night’s match, he blocked a shot within the first minute and had several other important saves throughout the evening.

Way to go, Busch! Keep calling the shots back there in the Indy net and we will have brighter days ahead.

Now, it’s Sunday morning and it’s time for church. Lord knows there’s plenty to pray about.

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