The “Boys in Blue” hit I-65 South destined for the University of Louisville to take on the Cards at Cardinal Park. While the I-65 derby might be reserved for the Eleven’s clashes with Louisville City FC, tonight’s game will garner plenty of interest in the area as “Indiana’s Team” prepares to battle one of the collegiate game’s top programs in recent years.
“First of all, this will be a game mostly committed to reserve players. In the last game against Butler, we tested most of our projected starters for 90 minutes to see if they were ready and could handle 90, and now we want to test the rest of our group to see if they’re 90 minute ready,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson.
“Obviously we have quite a few days before we actually have to get on a flight to Tampa, but we know probably whom our first 14 guys are. But for carrying 18 it’s games like this that players who show well and are ready to perform can make a difference. So for these players, there’s a lot on the line today.”
After a solid 1-0 outing against the Butler Bulldogs at Grand Park on Wednesday, most of the projected starters will be rested against Louisville. That will give not only the remaining Indy Eleven players on the roster, but also a few of the recently named Indy Eleven NPSL players a chance to feature. However, not all the performers from Wednesday’s win will be rested.
Coach Hankinson was firm on this, saying, “Most of these guys [tonight] will go 90 minutes. There will be a few players joining us that played Wednesday – guys like Franco, Brad Ring, Nicki Paterson, Duke Lacroix, and Dylan Mares – but with guys like Brad and Nicki, or Franco, their time will be very limited. With the guys like Cory [Miller], Keith [Cardona] in goal and Don Smart, these games are important.”
Mares and Daniel Keller return to their old stomping grounds on the UofL campus, though the latter will not be involved tonight due to injury. Keller featured for the black and red from 2011 to 2014, including the final season as a team captain, before being selected by the LA Galaxy in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Mares wasn’t a full-time Card, but he did spend two years (2010-2012) on the other side of the Ohio River before he transferring to Indiana University.
On his return tonight, Mares said, “I’m excited. Louisville is a great city and I enjoyed my time while I was there. It’s always good to go back and reminisce about things, and to have the chance to go back and visit old friends and old coaches is great. I’ve kept up with friends and still have a few from my time there, so it should be fun.”
Though Mares will be thrilled to be visiting again, tonight is all about his performance as he looks to secure a spot in the traveling squad for week one against Tampa.
“I want to keep it simple. Keep improving on the things that coach has implemented into our game. Keeping possession, meaning an entire game as a team, all 90 minutes.
“I think Butler was one of the first games where, as a team, we did well to complete the game from the first minute to the 90th minute. Keeping the ball, moving the ball, and creating chances – that’s something I would like to bring to the team for tonight. Possess the ball and create as many opportunities as possible to score.”
Continuing, Mares cited a win as the most important goal for this evening, saying everything is easier on everyone when they can stay on the right side of a scoreline. Coach Hankinson is on the same page.
“We’re looking for a nice mix tonight. Obviously the NPSL guys haven’t been a part of our tactical preparation, so there will be moments where the concepts move in different directions as they try to get on the same page. We want to win.
“But, it’s mostly to determine which of our remaining players will make the trip to Tampa so that when we go into next week we kind of know our 18 – and that can be adjusted if there are injuries midweek – but these will shape our final ideas on who’s going to be a part of that first game.”
Indy Eleven takes on the Louisville Cardinals tonight at Cardinal Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.ET and admission is free to the public.
In eight days time, Indy Eleven start its 2016 NASL campaign in Tampa, Florida, when they go head-to-head with the Rowdies at the season opener. The April 2nd debut will be broadcast live on ONE World Sports and be available to all fans for free – and without a subscription – via www.ONEWorldSports.com.
Visit IndyEleven.com’s Preseason page for more details on the team’s preparations for their third season of NASL action.