Building the Brick House

Indy Eleven making positive impressions at trials
by Doug Starnes   |   Monday, July 29, 2013

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

Indy Eleven wrapped up its second 2-day tryout Friday with Fake Juergen Sommer (@FakeJuergen11) tweeting: “Today’s @IndyEleven tryout events: Chili eating contest, Frogger, nettle scrub, and a don’t be #QPR meditation exercise.”

Obviously, the actual event consisted predominantly of 11v11 scrimmaging and sprint and agility work, but it’s a measure of what Indy Eleven is creating that a parody Twitter account already exists for the head coach of a side that has yet to even name a roster, much less play a match.

“We’re building something here the right way and players are taking notice,” the real Juergen Sommer said after Thursday’s session. “I’m getting calls from established players with Indiana roots who are checking out the website, feeling the buzz around the team, and want to see what it’s all about.”

Part of building things the right way is producing and packaging a competitive and engaging product both on and off the field, but it’s also about treating people the right way and Indy Eleven is already winning loyal fans from an unlikely demographic.

Thursday’s session was watched by significantly more fans, relatives and friends of hopefuls than was last week’s initial tryout, but there was also a healthy number of trialists from the 1st session watching on as the 2nd group of invitees was put through its paces who weren’t among the lucky 10 who were called back this week.

Sitting in the stands with a friend of mine who didn’t quite make the cut, I was surprised when he handed me his phone and said, “Listen to this.” It was a lengthy voicemail from Sommer in which he thanked my friend for his participation, attitude and work rate; went in to significant detail listing each of his strengths and weaknesses; then encouraged him to keep working and to stay in touch with the club.

This wasn’t a brush off “thanks, but no thanks” voicemail, but a genuine and thoughtful individualized critique. There were 36 trialists at the initial tryout and only 10 were called back. I have no doubt that the remaining 26 received similar calls.

It’s in these details – the sincere calls to trialists, the swag bags for area club and university coaches helping with the tryouts, the generous time and access granted to the media – that Indy Eleven is building a franchise in which people want to participate. As Sommer said, players are taking notice.

“There are a lot of guys who are interested that we can’t even talk to yet because they’re still finishing up their seasons with various other pro teams. We’ve been impressed with the quality here, and we’ll take some of these guys, but we’ve got a whole other group out there too.”

It’s that other group to which Sommer and his staff will turn their attention in the coming weeks once the NASL spring season is complete, and based on player feedback from these first 2 trials, their attentions should be welcomed.

Asked if he appreciated the phone call from Sommer, my friend responded, “Man, no doubt. These guys are pros. They’re gonna be good to play for.”


Baylor Univ.
Club Domestic:
Indy Eleven
Club Foreign:
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.