— Glenn (@FlourSack) October 25, 2013
Atlanta head coach Brian Haynes has led a remarkable turnaround for the Silverbacks. When he took over the reins of the team at the halfway point of the 2012 season, the team was in last place in the NASL, having won only 1 game. Under his leadership, they finished the 2012 season with one of the best runs in the second half, compiling a 6-4-4 record. The Silverbacks rode that momentum to the 2013 Spring championship and a place in the Soccer Bowl title game on November 9th.
After leading his team through an energetic practice prior to their game against the Carolina RailHawks, Coach Haynes sat down with 10Soccer to discuss the last two games of the Fall season and the upcoming Soccer Bowl.
10Soccer: What is your assessment of the Fall season? Where is the team mentally?
Coach Haynes: It was difficult from the start because at first the guys were just looking to November 9th. It’s difficult to get guys motivated every game, to concentrate on what’s in front of them, when they know they have that big carrot waiting at the end of the line. It took some time before the guys realized they have to take advantage what’s in front of them because whether the 9th comes or not they have to keep playing well.
The wake up call came when we played against Edmonton at home. We were playing well when Danny [Barrera] got red carded. We were a man down and the guys just kept going. That was the point in the season they told themselves they can do this all the time. The hunger and thirst for winning came back.
As far as I’m concerned now, we have two games left. I’ve told them already to not look past them. Let’s make sure we keep our focus on our game we have to play against Carolina.
10Soccer: You’re just a little over 2 1/2 weeks away from the Soccer Bowl. Will you reduce people’s playing time to keep them rested?
Coach Haynes: It’s a tough one. As far as I’m concerned I’d like to have my team peaking going into the last game. Even if that means I have to play the majority and then try to rest them. But I don’t want to go into a game and put in a line up that disrespects what we’ve been doing. I’d like to make sure that we keep the momentum going all the way to the end. If it’s a game where I get to use players and rest guys who are injured, that’s different. I want my team peaking to the final game.
10Soccer: You won’t have Mike Randolph Saturday due to his red card last week.
Coach Haynes: Mike is out for a one game suspension. It’s kind of bittersweet. It’s good to get Michael a little bit of rest – not the way we we’re getting him the rest – but it just happened that way and now we’ll have him for that final run.
10Soccer: For any of the guys going into these last two weeks with 3 yellow cards, will you adjust their strategy or responsibilities?
Coach Haynes: I already have. The likes of Martyn Lancaster, I think he is on 3 or 4, he probably won’t be seeing the field very much because I want to use him in the final. I don’t want to go to the final game shorthanded.
10Soccer: The final regular season game against the Cosmos on November 2nd shapes up to be really interesting no matter what the Cosmos do this weekend. If they don’t clinch the Fall championship this weekend, they’ll be under enormous pressure. If they have clinched, you’ll play them again in the Soccer Bowl and the final regular season game is almost like a practice for the championship game.
Coach Haynes: Exactly. If they come here and decide they’re going to rest their guys – no problem. Look we’re professionals. We’re paid to win games. So we’re not going to just lay down and let them win a game here. Whatever line up I put out there I’m going to put it out to win the game.
10Soccer: Playing the Soccer Bowl here in Silverbacks Park is obviously a huge advantage. You have a winning record in both halves of the season at home, and are working on a 3 game winning streak. But does having the championship here come with distractions too?
Coach Haynes: It’s a welcome distraction. This team before I got here was not as successful as they’ve been this season and I’ve told the guys to embrace our fans. When we play games and this place is full, I tell them the front office has done their job, they brought the people here, now we have to do our job for those people. I’ve been on both ends. I’ve been on the end of winning teams where people support you and I’ve been on teams that are losing and nobody wants to see you. So we’ve got to embrace it and be thankful for it, and at the same time take advantage of the opportunity that we have. Hosting the final is not something that every team gets.
— This article was originally posted on 10Soccer.com. —