Got a chance to catch up with Schellas Hyndman and Kevin Hartman post-practice today. Enjoy.
Good practice today?
Yeah, what we've been focusing on is trying to get healthy. Trying to focus on our fitness because we've played so many games in such a short time. I think us and DC have played the most games in the league, 15, which means a lot of weekday games. If you look at our stats, we've given up 4 goals in the first half and 20 goals in the second half.
So the first indicator is maybe, maybe, fatigue so we're trying to eliminate that as a possibility. I think there's other issues, cards, people that are tiring down, guys who haven't played a lot of minutes are suddenly being asked to play 80-90 minutes. The third thing we're trying to work on is a little bit of team structure, we did a little bit of that yesterday and today was more of a hard training day and hopefully those three things will start to equate with some wins.
Did you like what you saw from the scrimmages today?
Yeah, we call that exercise Mexico and the design of the exercise is to have zones where we set up the rhythm of play and we're trying to keep the ball with five touches in the middle third and then we go to goal. It's a lot of work in that space.
You talked about the stats with the goals, do you feel like the defensive problems are more based around team structure or individual performances not up to par?
It's more as a team. I think our defenders are very good, I think it's probably the strength of the team. But if you have central midfielders or flank midfielders that aren't putting pressure on the ball, then people are able to make good services and run out of the midfield into the attack and now our defenders are just getting out numbered. For me, it's more of a team structured defending but you always have to remember, you have a job description, the team is going to suffer. You still may be playing just because of injuries and everything else but we know were going to suffer so we're trying to change attitude, change mentality and trying to get people a little bit more accountable and responsible for their job description.
Do you feel like there's still a lot of time to make the playoffs?
Yeah, you know were on a slippery slope. We just can't not make progress. The positive thing for us is we've competed in almost all the games. We've been fighting, look at our game against RSL. They'd been off for two weeks, we were on our third game in a week and we still found ways to come in there twice and tie the game.
Unfortunately, we make a big boo boo at the end, two or three times we could've just killed the game, but that's again fatigue makes you do silly things and also players that aren't accustomed to being under that type of pressure. Again, if we weren't competing in games, I think it'd be real difficult but right now our goal for the 19 games is we've got to get wins.
It must be nice to have David Ferreira back out there even if he's not practicing, just getting him physically there is a mental boost.
He's in the warm up with the guys and he's probably more inspirational and motivating by his presence then for me to try and keep motivating players. And it's not like "oh David's back he's going to take my place" that's not the mentality. The mentality is "Great we've got David back, we're going to be a better team."
As we head to the summer months we get to the time where teams look to bring in new players, are you looking to bring in some new players?
We're always looking. I think every team is always looking and you have to when you're not getting the results or when you've got serious injuries. But the thing is, you have different ways of acquiring players because right now we're at a salary cap and roster compliance issue. The only way we can bring somebody is to move somebody so that's one thing you have to look at. So it could be a trade, say we make a trade because we need a certain type of player and they need a certain type of player and we agree to it....I don't know that we have many other ways to bring in players right now because of roster compliance.
Have you liked what you've seen out of the college guys back this week?
Yeah, I think they were both good players coming out of the academy. I think they're both taking this opportunity to get their education, being in a good environment away from home. One positive thing with college is it helps you grow up a little bit so I see maturity in both of them not only as soccer players and as people. We owe it to our academy, we have to train you so many days to keep you on our homegrown list so it's great to have them back.
Do you evaluate these guys more on what you see here in training or on video of their games you may see?
There's no better evaluation of a player to train them and now you're training them against your team. You know what your team can you and you're evaluating the players against them.
How have these first few practices after the weekend off been changing the mindset around?
You know, I mean when you've had the run that we've had as of late it's always at the forefront of your mind. When you go home you think about it and at practice you think about it but you're always looking forward to getting it turned around. Certainly, it was an opporutnity to rejuvenate ourselves physically and now were back working hard to get to a point that we're happy with the quality of play in training so that will translate to games.
How do you look back at May do you just rip the page out of the calendar and start over or are there things you can take from it?
I think it would be naieve of us to throw it all away, I think there are some important lessons from it that we need to take. That being said, I think sometimes it can be destructive to harp on the negative so I think you take the lessons from it and then you take each day like it's a new day to reprove yourself, reinvigorate the spirit within the team and find three points to have the opportunity to find things to be confident about and things to separate.
Does that mean the next two or three games are just so important to turning this thing around?
At this point we need to start putting points together. OBviously people's jobs are on the line and it's something that you cant take for granted. From my perspective, every game is equally important, they're all crucial. If you're able to get three points from the first ten games of the season and if you can get fifteen straight you're in the playoffs already so every game is critical but for us in terms of what we want to do they all become monumental.
Your defense has given up 20 goals in the second half of games and knowing the players that are out there, that's not characteristic of what's been done over the last two seasons. Is it just a team defending thing or what is the problem?
I think that when we have success as a defense, we make sure to stop and thank the forwards for helping us to defend and making sure that they're putting pressure on guys and in the midfield that we're really stepping up. I think that sometimes it comes down to the fact that we've defended for so long and it's been quality, we've only given up 4 goals in the first half, but sooner or later if you're not scoring goals it just becomes really fatiguing to watch something slip away or somebody miss a challenge in the midfield and it's just kind of disheartening.
Some of those late goals are really really frustrating but I really feel like it's a total team letdown, not just the four guys in the back. Sometimes it's those guys that are making the mistakes but in the past I think there's been times where you have a midfielder clearing the ball in the line, you have somebody stepping up with someone makes a mistake and we haven't really had anybody stepping up for one another as much as we have in the past. So it comes down to each of us individually really just trying to bail out our teammate to help out and do our jobs as effectively as we can.
One of the bright spots has been Matt Hedges play, how have you seen him progress through these games?
Yeah, you know and it makes you think that maybe the college game really helps players mature. He's been able to come in here to step in and fill a role that we've needed filled. He has progressed through the collegiate ranks and was able to win a national championship with UNC and he's appeared settled. He's a good defender that understands the game, you can see some of that growth from four years in college.
And the reality of it is that he's someone that we've come to count on just because we're probably missing half of our salary cap in the training room. We're eagerly anticipating those guys coming back, myself and others have broad shoulders and we're willing to accept the challenge presented to us but we need those guys back as quickly as we can get them back.
Is making the playoffs a personal challenge that you take on after a rough start or is it just a goal you set at the start of the season?
I honestly don't think about the playoffs at all. If I go out and kick ass every day then we're going to win games. If everybody puts that upon their shoulders then hopefully three points after three points after three points then hopefully we're going to be talking about where we're going to be ranked in the top five or six and so that's honestly a non-issue. To me it's an extra burden, I just want to go out there and be successful and if we get eleven guys out there that are successful, hard working guys then we're going to get results.