Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's Tim Squared for 2016 - Indy Eleven Announce new head coach! (12/2/2015)

Keep a Tim and add a Tim!
By: James Cormack

So the much anticipated coaching announcements have arrived, Tim Hankinson who most recently coached Montego Bay in the Jamaican Premier League is the new head coach of Indy Eleven. Tim Regan will be resume his position as assistant coach.

This had been a strong rumor for a week or more and many people seemed to be deflated about the news or were scrambling to Google and Wikipedia to find out who is this Hankinson guy.

So let's take a look at this news and break it down, should it be as deflating as some people feel it is, how much do we really know?

So have we just gone the cheap and cheerful route..... ?

I would say yes and no but mostly no. At first when I heard Tim Hankinson's name mentioned, I had heard of him but honestly could not recollect from where so I had to do some fact checking, obviously. My initial concern was not really about who we were hiring, it was whether we would retain Tim Regan within the system, which for me would be vital for this transition.

This was pretty much the only reason for me attending the announcement, I knew who the coach was going to be, and had spent some time mulling it over to find the positives of this. My decision was that this move could only be positive if Tim Regan was retained, and he was, this to me is very good news.

For those who do not follow or care much for the politics of the league and the finances, there are quite a few things about running a team in the NASL that should be considered and understood.

The NASL is a single division, for the moment of 11 or more teams, there are no conferences and there are only four qualifying spots for the playoffs. There is not a huge amount of money in this league and players are not paid a great deal compared to MLS or leagues in other countries. There is no promotion and relegation and for many teams no chance to move to a more financially rewarding league.

What this means is a situation can occur where one or two or three teams with owners who are willing to drop money in a hole can use those finances to set a pace for the others that would be ill advised to try and run against.

For some really good further reading on this I recommend this piece by Neil Morris of WRALsports (also follow @ByNeilMorris on twitter, good NASL writer) part of that was a paragraph from 2013 after the Cosmos won the Soccer Bowl at their first attempt where he said ..... 

"Meanwhile, the rest of the NASL now realizes business (and budgets) as usual may not be enough to win titles. It will be interesting to see how the next few years play out, whether other teams will cede championships to the well-heeled New Yorkers or (over)spend in an effort to keep up with the Cosmos … Soccer Bowl 2013 weekend was a success for the NASL. What remains to be seen is whether on-the-field success for its members now comes with a price tag many cannot afford."

Indy Eleven in their second year as a franchise team cannot afford to throw money into the void in order to compete with the likes of the Cosmos, as we have proved we don't need to in order to get results. If rumors are correct, the amount of money paid to keep Raul in New York for one year possibly equated to all or most of Indy Eleven's player budget.

Like more than half a dozen other clubs in the NASL our own club has to be careful and spend wisely. Coaching staff is a very important consideration, one of the most important because these will be the people who will tie our squad together and at the end of the day answer for failure with their livelihood.

I know that Indy Eleven has been linked with Günter Kronsteiner, and I have been told by more than one different source that we did talk to him but that is as far as it went and possibly because the asking price was just too much.

So should we assume that as an organization we are now just taking whoever we can get? No, I really don't think so. My gut feeling is that Indy were looking at more than a few people and already had a hope of securing someone that would be willing to come in and work with Tim Regan to help stabilize the team and also help identify and build a new squad for 2016. Considering this, I am not really disappointed with their choice at all.

Will this new arrangement be successful...?

With Tim Hankinson and Tim Regan if they can compliment each other, we have somewhere over fifty years of combined experience in the game. Hankinson has some 35 years of coaching experience himself and some possibly don't know that Tim Regan has around eight years of scouting and soccer operations experience. Both have either played or managed at the top level in the US game, they are no slouches when it comes to knowledge.

Tim Hankinson has NASL experience as well, back in the days of an eight team league in 2012 whilst at the helm of the San Antonio Scorpions he finished top of the table at the end of the regular season in the teams first year.

The success of this new appointment will depend on whether Hankinson and Regan can quickly evolve a chemistry together, hopefully their characters and temperaments blend. Tim may be the assistant coach but he will no doubt play a key role in getting Hankinson acquainted with his new surroundings, his potential players and the the teams targets and needs for the coming year.

Many people will no doubt wish we had gone for a more recognizable name, but the more days pass and the more I think about it and sleep on it, there is no real reason why this new coach setup cannot be a success. I am not the type of person to gloss things over as you know, but I definitely am willing to give this a chance, the gut feeling is good.

At the time of his departure from Montego Bay and the JPL, Tim Hankinson's side sat atop the table. Reasons for leaving were that he wished to have another crack in the US Soccer scene, this would lead you to believe he feels he has something to prove, and not just taking a job for the sake of it.

The 2016 season will be his and Regan's proving ground, and I think they should be given the time and the support to show themselves. With the inclusion of Indy Eleven NPSL now and tryouts fast approaching for both of our teams there is a lot of work to do and no doubt Hankinson and Regan will want to be in the thick of that.

Add to that the lengthy task of encouraging players to sign back with the club and stay in Indianapolis. Don't expect to see any big name signings, there will likely not be a Kleberson or a Raul, even some of the bigger names floating free like Stefano Pinho and Lance Laing likely will not be realistic for us. Indy have to play to their budget and play it smart, they are not lacking in skill they are only lacking in consistency.

As we have learned today we may not see the players we want to return come back. Erick Norales will not be returning to Indianapolis. This happens with most teams every year in the NASL, players whose stock has risen through good performance move on to other clubs and everyone rotates, it's a fact of life. It's how we replace them that matters, and it may end up being more than just Erick.

Tim Hankinson gave a good speech at the announcement today, he has a good outlook and logic on what is required to produce a successful team and his words reminded me of what other good coaches have told me, good teams need to defend well, you produce attacking chances by defending well as a whole team.

In my own mind the best teams are those who can successfully attack from the back forward and defend from the front backwards, there is logic in that although it may not be the best phrasing.

Clever signings similar to Duke Lacroix of last year will be the way forward for Indy and I do believe there will be some recognizable names coming in. Molding a group of players, possibly most of them new to Indy, so they can achieve continuity in performance and fitness will be the main priorities for Tim and Tim! I wish them the best of luck! Go out and prove to the faithful supporters that you are not here to for a vacation, you are here to improve the team and win!



  1. Great post! My concern has always been his short duration at teams, but maybe that will turn out to be an unwarranted concern.

    1. Hope so too, always remember if you follow leagues like NASL and others in the US, coaches usually don;t get to spend long at a club, owners expect instant success some times, it may not all have been his own decision.

    2. I know and there are a lot of factors, beyond just dollars and cents, for a coach's tenure. However, 3 coaches in 3 years is not the consistency that I think this team needs right now. At least Tim "The Younger" will be maintained on the staff. That should help too.

    3. Two coaches really, one fired, one interim and one new. it was necessary.

    4. Not counting preseason games, Sommer led the team for 38 games (league + USOC), while Regan led the team for 23 games (league + USOC + friendly), meaning that Regan is credited with 38% of the team's results in their first two years in existence. Officially, he had an "interim" label associated with his title, but I think that nearly 40% is enough to consider him the head coach. With Hankinson's hiring for next season, that's why I think that makes 3 coaches in 3 years.

      Technically, I gave Regan credit for the win when Kleberson was the man-in-charge, but I thought I might be getting a little carried away with my reasoning for this reply on your post so I left the result with Regan. :-)

  2. I think you put it very well, James: The best teams build their attack from the back and train every player to defend wherever defense is necessary on the field, even the offensive third.

    1. for sure. Henrik Larsson when he played for Celtic scored the most goals and also was one of the best defenders we had and he was center forward ;) He broke his leg in three place defending for his team.