Indy Eleven Hopefuls Complete 2 Day Trial

Smaller group of trialists finish up events at Carroll Stadium
by Doug Starnes   |   Saturday, July 20, 2013

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

A slightly smaller group took to the still scorching field at Carroll Stadium Wednesday to complete the first 2-day trial in Indy Eleven history.

Whether the attrition was due to immoveable scheduling conflicts or immoveable legs after Tuesday’s marathon session in the heat was unclear, but those absent the second day numbered no more than a few and the session was played out mostly as large and full-sided matches with more speed, agility and cool down sessions capping off the morning.

Wednesday seemed a more subdued affair than Tuesday with Indy Eleven manager Juergen Sommer and his staff quietly evaluating players from the sidelines, but there were still moments of creative attacking play and committed defensive work as the 1st group of trialists gave their all to catch the eye one last time.

I spent most of the session with club President Peter Wilt trying not to melt in an impossibly small ribbon of shade at the top of the main stand of Carroll Stadium. Our wide-ranging conversation touched on topics as disparate as the Shriners, local wrestling promotions, Chicago’s municipal flag and the Coen brothers-esque provenance of a particular piece of furniture in Wilt’s Indianapolis apartment. As a conversationalist, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more engaging than Wilt.

Indy Eleven muscled its way into the banter as well with Wilt confirming that the pool of players invited to this 1st tryout were likely competing for just a few precious spots, but giving no timeline for when those lucky few might hear from the club.

“When it comes to the soccer side of things, I’m involved and will give my opinion, but mostly I admit that I know what I don’t know and let Juergen and his staff make those decisions,” Wilt said of the process of assembling a team.

It seems likely that process could involve the selection of a small number of older players who would allow the club to double dip by employing those individuals as player coaches, thereby filling both roster and staffing needs and giving the club a little more financial flexibility.

This is important as NASL franchises are not bound by the central ownership construct of a league like MLS, but nor are they able to take advantage of the same level of revenue MLS sides create in ticket sales, apparel and television deals. Essentially, NASL franchises are as financially robust as their owners can make them in the markets they occupy and creative solutions with concern to roster and staffing decisions can serve to make the side that much more competitive.

Coaches teach what they know and Sommer knows goalkeepers. I would fully expect him to get the best goalkeeper available to an expansion NASL side. From where I’m sitting, this looks like a 2nd or 3rd string MLS goalkeeper in his late 20s or early 30s who needs games and can also provide the sort of vocal, on field leadership a young side needs while at the same time helping to develop a younger goalkeeper.

The 4 keepers invited to this 1st tryout were all in their very early 20s and it would not surprise me at all if 1 of them was offered a roster spot to back up an older, established keeper who would also serve as a player coach.

It also seems likely that roster spots 19-23, assuming the side is capped there, will be given to young, local prospects who are at a point in their careers that will allow them to live with family or friends in the area and train for little to nothing as they pursue their goal of making it into the 1st team. Given that the players in this tryout were mostly local and a number of them were very young, look for at least a few of them to be offered these spots.

The next round of tryouts will commence on July 25 and will be comprised of players from a broader geographical and experiential pool so one would expect the level of play to be a little more intense. Additionally, Sommer and his staff will have 1 round of trials under their collective belt so there will likely be subtle differences between the sessions just completed and the ones to commence next week, although they will want to be sure to compare apples to apples.

If you’re in Indianapolis and can get away, do come out to the tryouts. Braving the heat and the sun is well worth it to get your first look at Indy Eleven’s stars of tomorrow. 

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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