Eller Leads Team into Battle
The term “captain” is not taken lightly when talking about a sports team. It is a term that requires great leadership and bears great responsibility. A captain is looked upon for guidance on and off the field, often taking on the role of teacher and mentor.
Forward Allen Eller is the unquestioned leader of the Ohio Vortex and the obvious choice for the squad’s captain. He is a veteran striker with over a decade of experience indoors and out, spending time in some of North America’s best-known leagues. The 2009-2010 season would see Eller lead the Vortex in goals (34), assists (19), games played (15), and shots (93). He would also earn an All-League First Team selection after establishing himself as one of PASL-Pro’s top attackers, but his humble beginnings in the sport came much earlier.
Eller’s exemplary play at the University of Akron (OH) would catch the eye of the Cleveland Crunch (NPSL), where he signed his first professional contract in 1999. He would go on to play for several more clubs, including the USL's Pittsburgh Riverhounds (1999-2001), WISL's Houston Hotshots (2000), MISL's Harrisburg Heat (2002), USL's Cincinnati Riverhawks (2002), MISL's Baltimore Blast (2002-2005), and MISL's Cleveland Force (2005).
Having a player with such diverse experience is certainly an asset for the Vortex, who are now in their second season. Eller understands why the indoor game is so attractive to casual and hardcore fans alike. “Indoor is faster. You get the ball more and the pacing is different,” Eller commented in an interview with International Soccer Network. “Your touch has to be better and your decision-making has to be faster.”
Players with experience are always at a premium, which makes a player like Eller invaluable to the young Canton, OH club. “I use my experience to teach the proper way to play,” Eller continued. “We get the guys ready to play and help them stay focused.”
Focus is an integral part of a game that resembles a hybrid of soccer and hockey, a game where a simple mistake can lead to a quick goal. A handful of goals can be scored in a matter of minutes and a full match can yield more scoring than 10 outdoor matches. The good news is that Eller is usually the one scoring those goals in any match featuring the Vortex.
The Vortex captain started the 2010/2011 campaign with an incredible 5 goals against the Detroit Waza in Ohio’s home opener. He followed this up with a hat trick against Cincinnati at home and a goal and an assist against the Kings on the road. Currently Eller is tied for second in scoring in the PASL-Pro with 10 points, trailing just 3 points behind Jeff Hughes, last year’s league MVP.
The Cleveland native realizes that the indoor game has changed over the years and is still evolving. Players now have regular day jobs to go along with their professional careers in arena soccer. “People do this because they love soccer,” Eller contended. No player or club is making a million dollars in small market franchises in the PASL, but this allows the game to be played with a different sense of passion and desire. People play in this league because they love the game and want to pass it on to younger fans.