As the biggest game in club history approaches, I was able to catch up with Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson and discuss their game against the Carolina Railhawks.
MC: Saturday’s game presents an interesting situation where you have to win and win with a margin of victory of plus four. Do you go into these games and tell the players beforehand what’s at stake or do you not want to put that pressure on them and just say, ‘do what you need to do to get the job done.’
TH: They all know what’s at stake. I think if we played the game like we normally do that they would be disappointed and the fans would be disappointed. Even though we risk an undefeated spring, you have to go after this game to go after the title. That makes it a motivating and motivating week for us because we spend a lot of time around the goal and take a lot of pride in our finishing.
MC: Speaking of being around the goal and finishing, you guys have struggled recently with the crossing and finishing and putting shots on frame, is that a concern heading into this week or a major focus of this week?
TH: If you look at the Miami game, we spent 4 minutes in the final third and we had fifteen shots and only one on target. We had fifteen crosses and only one in the accurate area. Compared to Minnesota where we were in the final third for three minutes and yet we had twelve shots and six on target and we had fourteen crosses and seven in the accurate areas. It comes down to whether its three minutes, four minutes, or five minutes, it’s not how much time you spend down there it’s what you do with it. So we have to have one of those nights where we are putting fifty percent of our shots on frame and fifty percent of our crosses in dangerous areas. And you need a little bit of luck with you that the ball bounces your way.
MC: I guess you can call it the ‘next man up’ situation with the injuries and having Marco Franco and Cory Miller having to step up big time and other players as well, does that just show the resilience and character of this team especially heading into the fall season?
TH: They did an outstanding job and continue to do an outstanding job. Even a guy like Duke [Lacroix]… we like the thought of him starting but he brings such energy in a game late. We also have Siniša [Ubiparipović] that is starting to train again, that’s going to be very important late in the game when you need ideas of how to break down defense. But the guys you came to the rescue [Daniel] Keller, Cory, and Keith [Cardona] played the open cup game, giving Bushy [Jon Busch] a little bit of chance to regenerate and recover… there all stepping up in a big way. We talked to the team about two months ago that, to be a great team you have to be able to get through those periods of time where a guy is lost to injury or lost to card accumulation, or you got three games in seven days and you have to rotate some legs to keep competitive the guys have done a good job of that.
MC: Last question, the Railhawks are not a flashy team but a solid team that is very organized, what kind of problems do they give you guys on Saturday?
TH: They know what they’re doing. Colin Clarke has been in this league a long time and always has his team organized and prepared to play. [Brian] Shriver is a dangerous striker he’s proven that in the past. Just overall they have a good player at every position. I’m sure they are preparing a game plan. I’m sure they are looking at it and predicting what we’re thinking. That doesn’t mean they are going to be sitting back and defending all night. This game is big for them too because it’s about point accumulation between spring and fall and this is there last chance to get points carry into the fall season. It will be a battle.