The game itself was filled with firsts. First time Tim Hankinson lead the boys in blue in a competitive game. The first time we saw players like Lovel Palmer, Jon Busch, Ubi, and others. And, the first time we got to see the much antisipated "4-2-3-1" formation that was mentioned by Hankinson shortly after the announcement of his hiring.
Not much could be taken away tactic wise (as it was difficult to really pay attention to the game when the One World Sports stream would buffer every couple of minutes). This was the first time I've gotten to see the 4-2-3-1 Hankinson spoke aboutYour first Indy Eleven Starting XI of 2016!— Indy Eleven Live (@IndyElevenLive) April 2, 2016
Bench: Cardona, Franco, Miller, Larrea, Mares, Reinoso, Smart pic.twitter.com/yi1KgjyuVl
Offense:On the offensive side of the ball, Indy Eleven did very little correctly:
- Tampa held almost 60% of the possession to Indy's 40.
- Indy Eleven had 24.4% of their passes be long balls.
- Tampa Bay was more accurate with their passes.
The glaring statistic comes from the one that tends to matter most:
- Tampa Bay Rowdies had 12 total shot attempts (including those that were blocked) to Indy's six.
- While neither team was very accurate in those shots Indy gave up a lot more on their attack and lacked any presence of mind when attempting counter attacks.
While the offense looked like they never left the train station, the ironic positive of the match? The defense
Five players seemingly with little background together (minus Jon Busch and Lovel Palmer's Chicago connection as of recently) formed what I called "The Great Wall of Indy." They seemed confident, they seemed calm, they seemed patient as Tampa Bay's attack caused them to go out and buy a new kitchen sink just to throw it at them. It was a real sense of togetherness that was actually the highlight of the match if you were an Indy fan.
Greg Janicki, who played for Hankinson in San Antonio the first year the club played in NASL, was the only player who was truly familiar with a Tim Hankinson style of play. But what you saw Saturday night was a defense that knew what they needed to do and nothing more than that. For me, the player of the game had to have been Lovel Palmer. Countless times his tackles were the keys to stopping counters by Tampa.
While the draw wasn't ideal, it is for the circumstances surrounding the match. First match of the season, away, playing a very high power attacking team that is led by one of the top goal scorers in Tom Heinnemann. The result of not only getting a point but holding a team who seemingly should have scored two to three teams should make fans thrilled.
The club opens Michael A. Carroll stadium against Ottawa Fury which should be as interesting of a game on the fiend (with three former Fury players starting for Indy Eleven) as it is off the field. The one bit to takeaway from Saturday's draw is that as long as that backline success by Indy Eleven wasn't as much to do with Tampa Bay's jitters as it was with the actual quality of play by Indy Eleven, goals will surely come from the new look Indy Eleven.