After every game in 2019, IndyEleven.com’s Drew Kamaski will give his three takeaways from the performance of the Boys in Blue. This week's edition comes after Indiana's Team defeated Eastern Conference side Loudoun United FC 2-1 on the road in Week 15 USL Championship play.
See the title above. I read this remark, which was found in a thread of Tweets after last Saturday’s victory against Loudoun and it had me thinking … why not ride out Pasher’s hot streak and rely on his feet?
My point isn’t to attack Twitter followers or make the claim Pasher’s the next Messi (though his recent production has been approaching Messi-esque levels) – it’s to bring attention to the incredibly positive impact he’s had on multiple games. In just 12 appearances this season, the 25-year-old Canadian has scored five times via 11 shots on goal and just 13 shots overall. If that’s not impactful, I don’t know what is.
Lately, Pasher has had a knack for saving the day in dramatic fashion, scoring three game-winning goals in the dying minutes. The winners against Charleston and Pittsburgh came through his excellent first touch setting up a clinical strike with his left foot. Last time out, Pasher’s goal in the 89th minute goal against Loudoun United sealed another three points, pushing Indy’s undefeated streak to seven and the club up the Eastern Conference ladder into 4th place after Week 15.
Players don’t just end up in the right spot at the right time, usually. Pasher’s ability to read the game and position himself in the final third led to his goals against Memphis, Loudoun and Bethlehem. In Memphis, a back-post run freed him for a square pass while defenders failed to mark him. Against Loudoun, he followed up forward Dane Kelly’s strike, realizing there was the chance for a parried save. Let’s not forget his run through the middle of Talen Energy Stadium that allowed him to round Bethlehem’s keeper and score a break-away goal.
Realistically, the Boys in Blue are not truly riding on Pasher’s feet. Rather, Coach Rennie is utilizing Pasher’s technical ability, speed on and off the ball, attacking position and clinical finishing by putting him in a position to succeed on the left wing – and as a result he is providing clutch goals in a fashion this club has rarely experienced in its six-year history. If you’ve got a complete winger, why wouldn’t you ride out his performances and see what he can do?
Midfielder Kenney Walker takes no prisoners, just ask Loudon’s Allexon Saravia. In the echelons of Indy Eleven history, there won’t be a mention of Walker’s play, or the effort he put into helping create Pasher’s game-winning goal against Loudoun last Saturday. It’s one of those effort plays that only coaches and teammates notice – the kind of play that bolsters your teammates with a little extra motivation and reinforces whatever it is in your brain that makes you think, “We got this.”
In this instance, it was a bone-crunching tackle, one that would’ve made Roy Keane nod in approval, to keep possession at the feet of Indiana’s Team in the 89th minute. There was no malicious intent on the part of Indy’s veteran midfielder, just the will to walk away with a win. Walker’s tackle-turned-pass (preceded by a more gentle but no less important dispossession of Jack Jean-Baptiste 20 yards upfield) found the feet of Kelly, who then unleashed a shot that would ultimately be saved. However, the saved effort spilled into Pasher’s path, who rounded the ‘keeper to find the back of the net, and took to the corner to celebrate.
Highlights will focus on the goal that lead to another Indy Eleven victory. But, what fans need not forget, is Walker’s superior effort in helping create that play.
Indiana’s Team is now 13 games through the 2019 season and undefeated in its last seven matches, Rennie’s side notching four wins and three draws to claim 15 out of a possible 21 points. Five of those seven games featured playoff-bound sides in draws with Tampa Bay Rowdies, North Carolina FC, Nashville SC and wins against Charleston Battery and Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Throw Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fixtures into the mix and the streak is that much more impressive, considering that there were multiple games just a few days apart. Now, the Boys in Blue sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference with 27 points, three off first, and at least one game in hand on the three teams ahead on the table.
More points look ascertainable from the last three June fixtures at home. Next up is Atlanta United FC 2, a side coming off a deafening 5-0 loss and who haven’t won a game since April 13. Four days later, expansion side Birmingham Legion FC comes to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time, and this weekend will attempt to end a four-game losing streak of their own. The month of June will close out against Louisville City FC in another edition of the most prestigious, storied rivalry in the history of U.S. Soccer: the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest. With the rivals from Kentucky currently just three points back of Indiana’s Team, that contest could be more pivotal for LCFC … but then again, it could also allow Indy Eleven to put a good amount of breathing room between the two sides at the halfway pole of 2019.
After wins on the road the last two weekends, Indy Eleven will look to continue its hot hand at home this Saturday when it hosts Atlanta United FC 2 for the first of three games at Lucas Oil Stadium within a week’s time. Kickoff for Grateful Dead Night next Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m., and details on special Grateful Dead themed scarves, posters and shirts and ticket packages are available at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. Tickets beginning at just $15 are also available for the rest of Indy Eleven’s week-long homestand for games on Wednesday, June 26 (Pride Night versus Birmingham Legion FC) and Saturday, June 29 vs. Louisville City FC.