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Getting It Done the Indy Eleven Way

The New York Cosmos have stole the soccer headlines for most of the summer, but Indy Eleven is quietly putting together an organization that will be a force to be reckoned with in the NASL.

Wilt at the press conference announcing the addition of Juergen Sommer (Photo Credit: Indy Eleven)

Owner Ersal Ozdemir started by picking the best of the best to lead the front office and coaching staff.  Former Chicago Fire President Peter Wilt was brought on as General Manager and President, while former Chicago Riot executive and Pitch Invasion founder Tom Dunmore was brought on as Vice-President of Marketing & Operations.  The pair have been embraced by the Indiana soccer community as if they had been there for years.

Director of Soccer Operations & Head Coach Juergen Sommer has been part of that community his whole life and was a welcome local addition to the club. The hiring of Sommer gave Indy Eleven instant credibility; someone of his stature and reputation wouldn’t just go anywhere.

Dunmore promoting the new club at a grassroots soccer event (Photo Credit: Indy Eleven)

The team’s motto “The World’s Game, Indiana’s Team” was carefully thought out and is one that embraces the diversity of the beautiful game. The club even hired Carlos May as the club’s Director of International Markets.  You have to admire such forward-thinking.

What did Indy Eleven do for their big “coming out party” of the summer? Just bring the International Champions Cup’s premier matchup to Indianapolis. That right, Chelsea faced off against Inter Milan in Indianapolis on a temporary sod field that was later donated to a local park.  Some local kids will get to play soccer on literally the same pitch used by Petr Cech, Fernando Torres, and Eden Hazard.

Almost 42,000 fans were on hand to see a strong Chelsea side take down Inter 2-0 in an entertaining and exciting match.  Indy Eleven’s presence was felt everywhere as the match became a showcase for the NASL franchise, a team that already has 5,000 season ticket deposits for 2014.  Indy Eleven hopes to be at 7,000 season ticket holders by November 11th.  My guess is that they will put it off.

The Indy Eleven model is one that has impressed early and often.  It will certainly be the standard bearer for new NASL teams moving forward.

Initial Round of Indy Eleven Player Tryouts Scheduled for July

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer has announced that the North American Soccer League expansion club will host its first pair of open tryout sessions for potential players on July 16-17 and July 25-26, 2013. All sessions will be held from 9:00-11:00 a.m. ET at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium, the future site of Indy Eleven’s inaugural 2014 season.

“This first round of player tryouts marks another exciting step in the growth of Indy Eleven, and one I have been looking quite forward to getting underway,” said Juergen Sommer, Indy Eleven Director of Soccer Operations and Head Coach. “Judging from the early interest we have received from quality players locally, nationally and internationally, these sessions are certain to provide a highly-competitive environment.”

To maintain a high level of play and evaluation, only 36 coveted slots will be allocated to applicants during each two-day session, meaning just 72 players will be looked at across the four combined days. The tryouts are open to all players 17 years of age and older, but participants under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present at the tryout.

Players interested in trying out are asked to fill out an online application form by Tuesday, July 9. Indy Eleven will inform each applicant of their status for the initial tryout camps by July 11, at which point collection of a $100 registration fee will be arranged by the Indy Eleven front office.

All participants must bring supply their own soccer equipment, including appropriate shoes (turf, jogging, cleats, etc.), shin guards and other apparel dependent upon weather. Applicants are to note that the Carroll Stadium surface is a FieldTurf Revolution field.

Indiana Soccer Member Clubs to Receive First Chance at 2014 Indy Eleven Group Tickets

Indy Eleven today introduced to Indiana Soccer’s 140 member clubs the first chance to purchase group tickets for the expansion North American Soccer League team’s 2014 contests as part of the “Champions Twin Combo” package. The special ticket package also includes the opportunity to secure discounted group tickets for the highly-anticipated International Champions Cup contest between English giant Chelsea FC and Italian powerhouse Inter at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 1.

The exclusive offer for these clubs is the latest example of the growing partnership between Indy Eleven and Indiana Soccer, which the two organizations announced last month as part of their combined effort to grow the sport of soccer across the Hoosier State.

“The staff and membership of Indiana Soccer have already done so much to help spread the word about Indy Eleven,” said Indy Eleven President/General Manager Peter Wilt. “Giving Indiana Soccer’s clubs the first opportunity to enjoy the special memories Indy Eleven will create beginning next spring is a special opportunity, one we hope teams from across the state will be eager to take advantage of in the coming weeks.”

As part of the “Champions Twin Combo” pack, Indiana Soccer member clubs that purchase at least 50 group tickets to the International Champions Cup game at Lucas Oil Stadium (without ticket and facility fees) by July 15 will be eligible to put down a $1-per-seat deposit towards group tickets for a special club night at an Indy Eleven contest in 2014. Indiana Soccer clubs will be able to secure reduced-price group tickets for any of Indy Eleven’s 15 matches next year (subject to availability), including a limited number of seats for one of three premium dates on the calendar – the first two contests held at Carroll Stadium and the first-ever visit to Indianapolis by the New York Cosmos.

“This exclusive offer is another wonderful example of the strong effort Indy Eleven is making to reach out to the soccer community in Indiana,” said Indiana Soccer Executive Director Dave Guthrie. “The presence of Indy Eleven was critical to bringing the Chelsea vs. Inter Milan match to Lucas Oil Stadium this summer. That high-level professional match and Indy Eleven’s NASL matches beginning in 2014 will provide great learning opportunities and excellent entertainment for youth players, coaches and soccer families statewide.”

Youth soccer clubs that take advantage of the “Champions Twin Combo” pack will be included in a drawing for special on-field opportunities at the International Champions Cup game, including participation as Starting Line-up Escorts, Ball Kids, Flag Bearers and Halftime Mini-game Participants. All participating clubs will be entered in a drawing to win select Chelsea FC and Inter autographed memorabilia, while three clubs will also receive a complimentary soccer clinic for its membership conducted by new Indy Eleven Head Coach Juergen Sommer and Indiana Soccer Director of Education Steve Franklin.

Indy Eleven Names Juergen Sommer Director of Soccer Operations & Head Coach

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer received resumes from across the world in the hopes of landing the club’s top coaching spot, but in the end the expansion North American Soccer League (NASL) side kept its invitation inside the Hoosier State, today naming Juergen Sommer as the team’s Director of Soccer Operations and Head Coach. In his dual roles, the resident of suburban Carmel and former goalkeeping legend will be entrusted to build the club’s roster and technical staff before leading Indy Eleven on the sideline during the squad’s inaugural season in 2014.

“I’m grateful to Ersal Ozdemir and Peter Wilt to have this wonderful opportunity to join Indy Eleven and build the sport of soccer in Indianapolis and throughout the State of Indiana,” said Sommer. “The mentorship of some tremendous coaches throughout my career, including several from right here in Indiana, has prepared me for this opportunity, and I relish the challenge of serving in that role.  I look forward to assembling a great team that our fans can call their own.”

With the hiring of Sommer, 44, Indy Eleven President & General Manager Peter Wilt fulfilled the club’s stated goal of hiring a qualified candidate with both strong ties to the State of Indiana and solid connections across the local, national, and international soccer communities. The former Indiana University standout and U.S. Men’s National Team veteran has called Indiana home since retiring from a 12-year professional career in 2002 and has stayed plugged into the sport via coaching roles with the U.S. Soccer Federation, Indiana University, and Carmel United Soccer Club.

“I’m thrilled we were able to hire our top choice and maintain our commitment to do so with an Indiana-connected coach,” said Peter Wilt, President and General Manager of Indy Eleven. “Juergen’s knowledge, leadership, experience, connections and vision all are superb and in line with the qualities needed to make Indy Eleven successful. I look forward to working with Juergen to help build a team Indiana soccer fans will be proud to support.”

Sommer attended high school at Culver Academy in northern Indiana before heading south to Bloomington to walk-on at Indiana University. He would quickly earn the starting role between the posts and never relinquish it, eventually posting 57 career wins for the Hoosiers, still standing as third-most in the storied program’s record books. Sommer would help steer the Hoosiers to their third National Championship in 1988 and another Final Four appearance the following season before ending his collegiate career by being named Soccer America’s Goalkeeper of the Year as a senior in 1990.

“Juergen has overachieved at every level and has wonderful tactical awareness of the game, but the most important trait he possesses is that he is extremely good at building personal relationships,” said Jerry Yeagley, the retired Indiana University coach who recruited Sommer to Bloomington. “As the coach of a new professional team you need someone that can pull everything together and create the chemistry needed to make your club a championship caliber program, and Juergen is the ideal choice to do that.”

As an upperclassman at IU, Sommer would also crack the player pool for the U.S. Men’s National Team, eventually being named an alternate for the 1990 FIFA World Cup squad that broke the USA’s 40-year drought from the tournament’s Finals stage. Sommer would break through one of the most talent-rich position battles in U.S. Soccer’s history to that point to earn spots on both the 1994 & 1998 World Cup rosters, eventually finishing his senior international career with eight appearances from 1994-98.

Upon graduating from Indiana University, Sommer headed to England to test himself at the professional level, his career starting with a stint at Luton Town from 1991-95. A move to Queens Park Rangers in 1995 would allow Sommer to make history as the first American goalkeeper to play in the English Premier League during the 1995/96 campaign, and he would amass over 60 appearances for the London-based club from 1995-98 before moving back to the United States to join the ranks of Major League Soccer. Sommer would battle injuries for much of his five-year run in MLS, but still collected 54 appearances between two seasons with the Columbus Crew (1998-99) and three with the New England Revolution (2000-02).

After retiring in 2002, Sommer returned to Indiana and stayed connected to the sport as a longtime member of the United States Soccer Federation’s Athletes Council and, more recently, as a member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2011. A USSF “A” licensed coach, Sommer has sharpened his coaching chops as an Assistant Coach at Indiana University from 2004-07 under Mike Freitag; the Goalkeeper Coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team under the direction of another Peter Wilt hire, Bob Bradley, from 2007-10; and a six-year stint with Carmel United Soccer Club as Head Coach of some of the club’s elite Boys travel squads.

For his achievements in and service on behalf of the sport of soccer, Indiana Soccer named Sommer to its Hall of Fame in 2005. Sommer currently resides in Carmel with his wife, Susie, and their two sons, Tommy and Noah.

Chelsea FC and Inter Milan Coming to Lucas Oil Stadium as Part of Guinness International Champions Cup

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer and Relevent Sports today announced that European soccer giants Chelsea FC and Inter Milan will face off at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday, August 1 as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup. Kickoff for the contest, which will be broadcast internationally on FOX Soccer, is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.

“Indy Eleven is proud to join with Relevent Sports in bringing the International Champions Cup to the soccer fans of Indiana,” said Indy Eleven Owner Ersal Ozdemir. “Chelsea FC and Inter Milan will carry great tradition with them to Indianapolis, and Indy Eleven looks forward to hosting an event that will match their world-class quality on August 1.”

“This high-profile match between two storied organizations will again focus the eyes of the international sports world squarely on Indianapolis,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.  “We are among the best hosts of major sporting events in the world and this will be another great opportunity to showcase our great city and its hospitality to thousands people from around the country and the world that will travel here to be a part of the excitement.”

Tickets for Chelsea FC-Inter Milan showdown in the Circle City will go on sale to the public via and in person at the Lucas Oil Stadium Box Office beginning Tuesday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Prices for seats in the main seating bowl will range from $30 to $135, and VIP and hospitality packages will also be available for the event.

Indy Eleven Season Ticket Holders will have the first chance at the best seats in the house for this first-of-its-kind soccer event in the State of Indiana, as they will enjoy a five-day private sale beginning immediately and lasting through the public on-sale next Tuesday morning. For more information on how to become an Indy Eleven Season Ticket Holder and take advantage of this opportunity via a $25 per seat deposit for the club’s inaugural 2014 season, click on the “Tickets” section of

More local groups will join the private sale opportunity on Friday, May 31 at 10:00 a.m., when the Indiana Soccer Association, Indiana Champions League, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Sports Corp and Brickyard Battalion supporters group will invite its member bases to purchase tickets until the start of Tuesday’s public on-sale.

The Guinness International Champions Cup is a unique tournament featuring eight of the planet’s most recognizable soccer clubs: AC Milan, Chelsea FC, Everton, Inter Milan, Juventus, LA Galaxy, Real Madrid and Valencia. Preliminary round contests will be hosted in Indianapolis; San Francisco; Phoenix and Valencia, Spain from July 27-August 1, with those matches followed by semifinal doubleheaders in Los Angeles and New York City. The tournament will wrap up on August 6-7 with four matches featuring all eight squads at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.

For more information on the full Guinness International Champions Cup, including the tournament bracket and team information,

“Indianapolis is a top American soccer city, and we’re happy to finally bring soccer to Lucas Oil Stadium,” said Relevent Sports Chief Executive Officer Charlie Stillitano. “We have no doubt that Chelsea FC and Inter Milan will provide an unforgettable match for the local fans.”

One of England’s most historic clubs, Chelsea became one of the world’s top teams following the purchase of the club by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003.  Since then, Chelsea has won three English Premier League titles, four F.A. Cup titles and the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League title. Chelsea FC captured its most recent piece of hardware just two weeks ago on May 15, when it won the 2012-13 Europa League trophy via a dramatic 2-1 victory over Portugal’s Benfica in Amsterdam.

The “Blues” play in the famed Stamford Bridge, which holds almost 42,000 fans and opened its doors in 1905. The club currently features a roster filled with international stars including Juan Mata (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Frank Lampard (England). After relieving manager Rafa Benitez of his duties on Tuesday, Chelsea FC is rumored to bring back to Stamford Bridge Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese leader that saw the London-based side through one of the most prosperous trophy hauls in its history from 2004-07. For more information on the Blues, visit

“Chelsea Football Club is looking forward to participating in the International Champions Cup as part of our preparation for the 2013/14 season,” said Ron Gourlay, Chelsea FC Chief Executive. “After the great reception we have just received in St Louis, we are pleased to be visiting another new city in Indianapolis. We are also looking forward to returning to New York and Miami, where we always enjoy strong support.”

F.C. Internazionale Milano, popularly known as Inter, is one of the most famous clubs in world football. Since its foundation in 1908, it has always played in Serie A, the top tier of Italian soccer. In its long and illustrious history the club has won 18 Serie A titles, three European Cups, three Intercontinental Cups, three UEFA Cups, seven Italian Cups and five Italian Super Cups. Inter currently stands ninth in the UEFA club coefficient ranking.

The club is owned by Massimo Moratti, whose family owns one of Italy’s most prominent companies in Saras S.p.A. It is currently managed by Andrea Stramaccioni and is led by legendary Argentine captain Javier Zanetti, who leads the club in all-time appearances with over 800 games since his debut for the team in 1995. To read more on I Nerazzurri(the “Black and Blue”) visit

“Inter is thrilled to open the tournament against Chelsea, another internationally renowned football club with whom we have shared some exciting European encounters in the past,” the Italian club stated via a spokesperson. “We are looking forward to playing in Indianapolis for the first time after two successful preseason tours of the States in 2009 and 2010.”