An Indy Assessment after their match vs. Pittsburgh

Making sense of a senseless match between the Hounds and Indy Eleven.

If you woke up Thursday morning still confused about what exactly happened between Indy Eleven and Pittsburgh Riverhounds, you aren’t alone. If you didn’t, you probably are a normal person. For those who still wonder what exactly happened last night in a seemingly must-win match for both sides, there aren’t any definite answers. The answers you are looking for rest in the offices of PRO and United Soccer League who should be reviewing this footage. However, let’s take a look at three specific things that left some confusion for Indy Eleven fans.

Nico Matern has to be benched

The Nico Matern experiment has been one to watch. The young 25-year-old German, who played his college soccer at Indiana Wesleyan University, has been a stud as a defensive midfielder for Indy Eleven. He has solid strength and his ability to stop plays and get the ball up to playmakers has helped cover some defensive issues that have come up as of late (more on that shortly). However, Nico seems to be losing his form.

I don’t see a reason why Brad Ring can’t slot in there. Ring played right back and defender at times this season and while a more natural box to box midfielder has the ability to get after the ball while giving you another skill set when he is forward on attacks. For Saturday’s match against Richmond, at a minimum, you need to let Matern come off the bench and give Ring the time. Even if he typically comes in for Matt Watson, having more leadership on the field won’t hurt.

Defensive blunders becoming a terrible, horrible, no good pattern

It’s not exactly clear what happened. It’s not exactly clear why it happened. But the defensive blunders are becoming an all to common issue in matches.

Indy Eleven just seems completely determined to make sure everyone knows they don’t know how to play as a team with a lead. It’s unclear if it was a communication issue, or if Owain Fon Williams was counting on the play being disrupted or if Riverhounds Christiano Francois is simply just that fast that he was able to beat the backline. Nevertheless, this is becoming an issue and an issue that a playoff-bound team can’t afford to have.

I usually fought for this team’s accomplishments this season to be centered around the fact that they are team built and developed in half the timeline that a normal USL team would have been built. Signing players in January and expecting them to all get along together, get gelled, and get movements right is something that takes time.

Indy Eleven fans don’t owe this team any more excuses for this type of performance. It’s time to see what this team is made of and as we round out the end of the regular season it’s time to see if this team has what it takes to retain their position and fix this mistakes.

Jack McInerney and the whistle that blew

One of the few positives from last night for Indy Eleven is that Jack McInerney seems to have arrived.

“Now he’s doing what I think we all know he can do, which is score goals. His movements good, his finish is good, he’s got a knack for it. It’s really great for me to see it and for our fans to see it and also for him to gain that confidence.

-Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie on Jack McInerney

McInerney came in with a massive chip on his shoulder. He had a large amount of success in MLS, but had hit a wall. His form was suffering and, as Rennie also said, “Goal Scorer’s confidence thrives on scoring goals.” He came in with a lot of expectations and it seems he is finding his form. The final goal of the game was a perfect personification of the determination you want from your strikers.

So.. that end of the game…

Let us start with this:

If Neymar were a defender, this might be how he performed in the World Cup. It just leaves me extremely confused because the attempted tackle by Pittsburgh is in no way aggressive enough to knock you off your feet and begin to roll on the ground. Hopefully, we see USL rescind this red card because Pittsburgh doesn’t deserve this.

The extra time issue is another thing we see USL/PRO address. After Jack McInerney’s second goal, Indy Eleven were pushing forward to grab a late third goal and were given a corner kick. After failing on that corner and the ball going out for another corner (at this point well past the allotted stoppage time of four minutes) the referees decided Indy Eleven decided no more attempts would be made.

Often, these are the times where a history of soccer would be helpful to have on hand. I don’t recall many games being called while at the corner flag but this one seemed fitting for that feat. Whether you feel Indy was deserving of another attempt or not, typically referees end games in stoppage time when neither teams are in a position to score.

Indy Eleven was.

We will have to wait and see, but I can’t think that many people inside of the USL office were happy to see that match end in the manner it did. More so, many in the USL office shouldn’t be happy with how this game was refereed as well. There wasn’t much consistency you see. Things were getting called on one end and not called on the other. Obviously, you’ve read it over and over again and it’s no difference here.

Referees are human.

They are. It’s easy to understand. But the offseason should be the time that USL looks heavily at some of the key matches and how the referees have begun to affect those results. It’s a problem that isn’t going away and I hope we see some improvement in the future.


Top photo courtesy of Robbie Mehling/Soc Takes

Brian Cook

Brian has followed Indy Eleven as a supporter since their birth and began covering the team in a number of capacities in 2015. He can be reached at or @SoccerwithBrian on Twitter.