This series took a longer than expected summer break but we're back firing on all cylinders. For our first fall addition, we chat with Indy Eleven defender Marco Franco.
NUVO: What are you listening to prior to kickoff?
Marco Franco: I kind of have my own playlist, a couple of different artists, Kanye West, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, to name a few.
NUVO: I'm a huge Kanye fan, so I've got to ask. Favorite album?
Franco: I really like his older stuff. Late Registration was good one, and College Dropout. I really enjoyed his new one [The Life Of Pablo] too.
NUVO: You were one of the few guys that returned to Indy Eleven’s squad from last year. What were you trying to improve on going into the 2016 season?
Franco: That’s kind of my goal every year, to improve on something in my game, whether it’s service from wide areas or positioning. Going into preseason I just wanted to make sure I was fit, especially with a new coach coming in. Fitness is obviously a factor and something that you always want to do well in. In the offseason I made it a point to get a little bit stronger and faster. You always want to improve in those areas every year especially with the league being so athletic.
As a team, last year we had some success but overall I thought it was a disappointing year with missing the playoffs. Everyone had the same mindset going in, we want to make the playoffs and push for a NASL Championship.
NUVO: Eleven’s defense has once again been one of the strongest in the NASL averaging less than a goal conceded per game. What has been the key?
Franco: The communication has been fantastic. We have a lot of experienced guys back there, [Lovel] Palmer, [Nemanja] Vukovic, Colin [Falvey] is really vocal, which helps out out a lot. Greg [Janicki] is really vocal as well. [Coach] Hankinson prides our team on that — having a stingy defense. His system works well with our players and I think he’s done a great job with that. We have a lot of depth back there.
NUVO: How important is it to have those veteran players in the back?
Franco: You’re able to learn from them every day, pick their brain, see how vocal they are and the leadership they bring to the table. It really helps out a lot.
NUVO: How did it feel lifting the first trophy in Indy Eleven history?
Franco: It was fantastic man. I think it was a little more sweeter for the guys that have [were] here during the first year, starting from there and going through the grind the past couple of years and finally being able to lift that trophy. It was definitely pretty sweet but we’re still hungry for more.
NUVO: That goes along with my next question. How do you stay focused game in and game out this fall season knowing that you’ve already clinched a spot in the playoffs?
Franco: Obviously it’s tough. You’re tempted to lay down and not be as motivated but we have to keep the momentum going. I think we’ve done fairly well in the fall but there is a lot of opportunity for us to improve. We’ve dropped two games which we’re not happy about. It’s still a long season and we’re in a decent spot to keep climbing up the table. [Coach] has done a great job in keeping the standard up during training and keeping it competitive.
NUVO: You’ve been in Indy for almost two years now, what’s your favorite part about the city?
Franco: Surprisingly they have a lot of good restaurants. Downtown has fantastic steakhouses. It has decent Mexican food, I’m a little picky when it comes to Mexican food because in California there are a lot of great places to eat. But I’m a foodie and I enjoy trying new places to eat.
NUVO: Go-to spot?
Franco: I’ve got a couple actually. Bakersfield has great Mexican food. I love sushi. There’s this pretty good place out in Clay Terrace called Kona Grill. Another good spot is Forty Five Degrees. Bru Burger. The Pint Room in Carmel. Those are all good places.
NUVO: What do you miss most about Chino Hills, [California]?
Franco: It’s a great little city but I’d have to say I miss my family the most. Especially with them not being out here and they don’t really get a chance to come visit me with work and all that. There’s no beaches in Chino Hills if you want get technical. For California in general the weather and beach but for Chino Hills definitely my family.
NUVO: Was the weather the biggest thing you had to get accustomed to in Indy?
Franco: Oh yeah definitely. I remember the first time I flew down it was in a blizzard. The first time I drove in the snow was this year when I reported for preseason. I have a smaller car so it doesn’t really do well in the snow. I was going maybe 30-35 mph on the freeway, following everyones tracks in the slow lane and cars are flying by, passing me going like 60 mph, honking at me. They were probably looking at my California license plate wondering “what the hell is he doing here?” It was pretty scary the first time.
NUVO: If you could vacation anywhere, where are you going?
Franco: Somewhere in Europe. I really love Spain but I’d probably have to say Italy. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it and I’m sure the Italian food is fantastic. I’m a big pizza lover so I’m sure the pizza is fantastic there.