It’s been a difficult preseason for Indy Eleven since its return from sunny Arizona to a balmy, cooler Indiana. Injuries have more than played their part in a tough stretch over the last two weeks, but player concepts and understanding the right way to play has been equal to the former. Head coach Tim Hankinson knows this – and he’s working on it ahead of the second-to-last preseason friendly with the Butler University Wednesday night.
“This will be the longest most of the players have pushed to get more minutes in. We’re still working on our match fitness and certainly we want to avoid injuries, but we want to see our concepts. We have not possessed the ball as well as I’d like to, and we’ve created some good attacking chances, but we haven’t really been a group that’s been finishing and taking advantage of those opportunities,” said Hankinson.
Following two 1-1 draws with FC Cincinnati and St. Louis FC and, most recently, a 0-1 loss to Louisville City FC on Saturday, much work is still to be done. The problem? With just 11 days left until the season opens at Tampa Bay, the time to put that work in is dwindling.
“We tend to have been a team in the preseason that lets up one goal but no more though it would be nice to get through the game with a clean sheet and put two or three balls in the net,” continued Hankinson. “We’re looking for a more complete effort than what we’ve seen in these last two or three matches. The preseason results haven’t been what were expected, but we are determined to make things right.”
The Butler Bulldogs roll into tomorrow’s friendly on the heels of two out-of-state contests against Michigan State University and Oakland University in Pontiac, Michigan last Saturday. Wednesday’s friendly will be their only against a professional side, and the second of five matchdays during an abbreviated spring season.
Coach Hankinson is weary to the dangers collegiate players present after earning a hard-fought draw against Indiana University in a 9-v-9 affair in Bloomington that kicked off the exhibition schedule last month, but insists his team is ready for the test.
“The college players always give tremendous effort. Their fitness, their desire to work hard against you puts you under a lot of pressure. It’s always a proving ground for them. Any player on their team is looking to get noticed for a professional opportunity down the road,” Hankinson explained. “We know it will be a tough match, and I think we’re expecting windy conditions so that will add a feature to how the game will be played.
“But we should have a number of our starting players available – it’s been a very difficult preseason with our injuries to get a consistent, collective group together. Wednesday’s match is important to the preparations for Tampa for this group that I have in mind.”
Indy Eleven faces off with the Bulldogs tomorrow night at Field #3 at Grand Park; click here for a map of Grand Park and click here for directions to the magnificent sports complex in Westfield. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.ET and admission is free to the public. There are no stands for spectators, who are encouraged to bring their own chairs to the game.
Just 48 hours later, Indy Eleven will have its final test ahead of the April 2nd NASL season opener in Tampa this Friday night when the squad heads south down I-65 to face the University of Louisville.
Visit IndyEleven.com’s Preseason page for all the details on the team’s preparations for its third season of NASL action.