A Nicht to Remember

Kristian Nicht unveiled as Indy Eleven’s 1st signing, Honda and Diadora to be kit sponsors
by Doug Starnes   |   Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Checkered Flags – column on Indy NASL (Indy FC) & the Indianapolis soccer scene.

In front of a packed biergarten crowd at Indianapolis’ historic Rathskellar restaurant, Indy Eleven made 2 major announcements Tuesday night.

Diadora was unveiled as the nascent NASL club’s uniform provider and Honda Manufacturing of Indiana and Central Indiana Honda Dealers were announced as the official corporate sponsors of the new franchise in a deal worth about $ 1 million over 3 years.

3 jerseys, 1 red, 1 white, and 1 blue – each sublimated with a faded checkered pattern and emblazoned with the club crest and Honda logo - were presented to the assembled media and supporters and were received with robust and enthusiastic applause.

As exciting as the jersey unveiling was, the star of the evening was the club’s 1st-ever signing, Kristian Nicht. The 31-year-old German goalkeeper arrived in the Rathskellar biergarten via a Honda (what else?) and seemed genuinely excited and nervous as he took to the podium to say a few words to the boisterous crowd.

Nicht is almost certainly a stranger to the marquee treatment he received Tuesday night, having spent most of his career as a journeyman goalkeeper in Bundesliga 2 with outfits Alemannia Aachen and Karlsruher SC with a brief stint in Norway’s Tippeligaen at Viking FK and, most recently, 2 impressive campaigns at Rochester Rhinos of USL PRO where he earned Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2012. 

In a 6-minute rambling yet charming introduction of himself given in near perfect English, Nicht characterized himself as a hard worker, loving father of 2 girls, fierce competitor and available bachelor. The robust reception he received seemed to genuinely take him off guard and the resulting off-the-cuff remarks only endeared him to a frenzied fanbase already pining for accessible crowd favorites.

Checkered Flags – column on Indy NASL (Indy FC) & the Indianapolis soccer scene.

Don’t let the journeyman CV, ear-to-ear grin, and perfectly coifed faux hawk fool you though, Nicht can most certainly play. In a brief conversation before the official announcement, Director of Soccer Operations/Head Coach Juergen Sommer revealed that the club had done its due diligence in assessing Nicht.

“[Nicht] is a great guy with over 200 league appearances and will provide a lot of pro experience and leadership,” he said. “His agent was straight up with us and has a good relationship with [President/General Manager Peter Wilt]. He was out of contract at Rochester and it just worked out. I’m really excited to have him.”

There never should have been any doubt that Sommer, a former US Men’s National Team, MLS, and Premier League goalkeeper, would find the best net-minder available to the expansion franchise and sign him as the foundation of the team. Coaches coach what they know, and the 6’5’’, 225 lbs. Nicht is a goalkeeper cut from the same cloth as Sommer.

For his part, Nicht seems excited about the marriage as well.

“I’m very happy that I will be a part of a team with Juergen as the coach,” Nicht said Tuesday evening. “With his background … it’s something I admire and I’m very happy that he will be my coach. It gives me the chance to still learn a lot of things from him.”

Checkered Flags – column on Indy NASL (Indy FC) & the Indianapolis soccer scene.

Nicht will wear No. 24 and, although he’s the only name on the team sheet at the moment, is the kind of signing that represents promise and clear intent from the fledgling franchise.

As Nicht said Tuesday evening, “I’m very optimistic that we will get a good team together, a very successful team. We’ll do our best basically from tomorrow to get in shape and give you guys what you deserve and that’s nothing else but a very successful team.”

Indy Eleven starts play in the spring of 2014.

1 box ticked, 10 more to go.  

Doug STARNES

Nationality:
USA
College:
Baylor Univ.
Club Domestic:
Indy Eleven
Club Foreign:
Fulham
A reformed goalkeeper, cheese enthusiast, beer aficionado, and all around unrequited lover of The Beautiful Game, Doug currently resides in Indianapolis and is chomping at the bit to cover Indy Pro Soccer in all of its soon to be glory.
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