Struggling to finish: Thoughts on the loss to Indy Eleven

Barlow struggles

Since Tom Barlow signed his first team contract, he has struggled to capture the form he had to start the USL Championship season. Part of this is adjusting to the speed of play in MLS, but he has also struggled when dropping down to USL.

Barlow has played in six USL matches since moving to MLS, and only scored three goals. Two of those came in a wide open match against Bethlehem Steel nearly two months a go. On top of his scoring, Barlow’s hold up and distribution has been sloppy.

Against Indy Eleven, Barlow won 5 out of 15 duels, completed 62% of his passes for the entire field and 56.5% in the opponents half. He also sent in two unsuccessful crosses.

The best example of this was when he was in on goal with Mathias Jørgensen streaking into the box. Crossing in that situation works, considering his angle. However, the ball played did not. Barlow passed it knee high, and too hard for Jørgensen to reach. Sending the ball low, across the box, creates an easier chance to finish. Calls for Barlow to start with the first team have increased with Brian White out, and Bradley Wright-Phillips struggling, however, last night’s performance showed why a spot in the starting XI eludes him.

Finishing plagues the Red Bulls

Much like the first team, NYRBII controlled large portions, if not the entirety, of the match Wednesday night. Also like the first team, they failed to convert numerous good chances. Mathias Jørgensen had two good looks. The first came on a break away that he pushed wide left. The second, on a tough volley on his weak foot. Vincent Bezecout had two really good looks as well, but he sent them high and wide respectively.

There are still positives to be taken away from this match. Despite poor finishing, Jørgensen’s comfort level is rising. He was much cleaner in possession and found good runs in behind the Indy backline. The finishing will come, but its good to see his understanding and movement in the system improving. Winning aerial duels is the next step he needs to take. so I wouldn’t count the young man out just yet.

The other positive is the overall use of the press. Tyler Pasher got in behind on occasion, but NYRBII kept Indy Eleven pinned back through strong counter pressing. Jean Christophe-Koffi and Chris Lema’s strong midfield play also kept the team out of danger throughout the match. On another night the game is over by halftime, and NYRBII cruise to an easy win.

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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