updated: 6/12/2013 7:20:44 AM
Indy Eleven has hired a former Indiana University standout and professional goalkeeper as head coach and director of soccer operations. Juergen Sommer has also served as a coach with the U.S. Soccer Federation and Carmel United Soccer Club.
June 11, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - 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.
About Indy Eleven
Born Indy Pro Soccer after launching as the 12th member of the North American Soccer League January 16, 2013, Indy Eleven established its permanent identity 99 days later on the 152nd anniversary of the establishment of the 11th Indiana Regiment during the Civil War on April 25th, 1861. The NASL is a professional soccer league established in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The NASL member teams are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, New York Cosmos, Minnesota Stars FC, Puerto Rico Islanders, San Antonio Scorpions FC, the 2012 champion Tampa Bay Rowdies, Indy Eleven, Ottawa Fury and Virginia Cavalry will begin play in 2014.
Source: Indy Eleven