Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Indy Eleven - What's Goin' On?

In the past, I have generally done a mid-season review through the use of the various graphics that I create. However, I didn't think that was enough this year. There's just too much to discuss that can't be captured in a graphic. Where to start though? How about we go back a bit?

In the offseason, there was a massive turnover in players as Martin Rennie, who I suspect was lucky to keep his job after missing the playoffs last year, let most of the guys go and picked up a new set of guys in the hope that he could get them to buy into his system. Rumors are that he was losing the locker room. So since he stayed, players were sent on their way. Couple that with the fact that starting goalkeeper Evan Newton and leading goal scorer Tyler Pasher were transferred to MLS squads, and Indy fans were, once again, wondering how the team was going to lineup and who was going to score under Rennie Ball.

Indy announced they were moving back to Carroll Stadium, citing scheduling concerns of dealing with Lucas Oil Stadium. Given the number of games that Indy had to reschedule since 2018 due to the Colts (and probably others) getting first preference at that stadium, this wasn't that surprising.

In January, the team announced that there would be an announcement by the end of March on the Eleven Park development. The last update on Eleven Park in late March was an announcement that the announcement wasn't going to happen and that a future announcement would happen regarding the location and details of the development. 

“It is great news that the Indiana General Assembly recently took action to provide Indy Eleven additional flexibility as we complete plans for Eleven Park,” reads the club’s official statement. “While no organization has been immune to the effects of the pandemic, it’s clear that enthusiasm for this transformational neighborhood development remains high. Eleven Park is more than just a stadium, and this extra time will allow Indy Eleven to finalize the site as well as other critical pieces of the project. This includes substantial private development that will have a large economic impact – creating jobs and investment for the City and State. We thank our fans for their support and urge them to stay tuned in the coming months for an update on the location and details of Eleven Park.”

On June 16th, Indy Eleven and Martin Rennie announced they were "mutually parting ways" after Rennie had a very calm and collected on-air meltdown with Rakestraw and Hauter after a 1-nil loss to Pittsburgh. Assistant Coach Max Rogers became the face of the coaching staff until a new coach was to be selected.

From the time that Coach Rennie became "former coach" and assistant coach Max Rogers became "Interim Coach," the team has had a 3W-4D-4L record and the league's Power Rankings currently have Indy sitting in 27th place out of the 31 teams in the league. Indy has a 6W-5D-8L record. Notable is the fact that two of the three teams in Indy's current streak of games are above Indy. These are teams that are still in last place in their respective divisions. The comment for Sporting Kansas City II, who just drew with Indy, states, "the playoffs are almost certainly out of reach now, though." They just drew Indy...albeit with a starting lineup that included 8 players from the parent team.

At the roughly mid-point of the season, Indy sits just outside the playoff line, having been outscored 12 to 6 in the last four games. 

That basically brings us up-to-date on the season. 

So, Indy Eleven, "What's Goin' On?"

Indy is struggling on the field, there hasn't been an announcement about the stadium since March, and there hasn't been any word on a new coach since Rennie's departure. Everything fans know have been through hearsay or outside sources.

I have been able to gather that there were over 100 applicants for the coaching job, some of which were major names in American soccer and that there were also major names who turned down the position. Where the process stands today is anybody's guess because I continue to receive the same information from the FO when asked. The last time Indy let go of their coach during the season (2015, Coach Sommer), Indy rode out the season with interim coach Regan and then hired Coach Hankinson in the off-season. Given the results and the amount of schedule left, it wouldn't surprise me if the same thing happens this year. We haven't received an update to know if that is the case though. Nothing saying that they have narrowed it down to a dozen candidates or down to 3 or 4. Nothing to say that they have made any dent whatsoever in the 100+ applications.

Indy has struggled at Carroll Stadium, sitting on a 2W-2D-5L record in the seemingly "unfriendly confines" of the Greatest Dive Bar in American Soccer. Maybe Rennie's post-game rant before his departure about the crappy field at Carroll was warranted. Nicky Law backed up that assessment of the field in an interview with the Soccer Snobs that "it's bad. It's probably as bad as I've played anyways...Struggle to walk for next few days after." Indy is playing their home games on a terrible field and Indy continues to remain silent about the new stadium. I was able to confirm (as of mid July), that the Indy Eleven/Keystone Group were not targeting the IUPUI campus when a member of IUPUI's Capital Planning & Facilities group informed me that "Indiana University is not currently in any discussions with Indy Eleven and/or the Keystone Group regarding a stadium development at IUPUI" despite some on-going rumors during that time.

I certainly can't speak for every Indy Eleven fan, and I won't claim to be the definitive pulse of the fans, but I know what responses I get from my Twitter posts about my articles, and I pay attention to the Indy Eleven subreddit. Fans are unhappy and are becoming more vocal about it. Indy fans have dealt with a lot of being kept in the dark on many of the team's plans and initiatives over the years. It's easier to handle being in the dark when the team is at least moderately successful. However, Indy's on-field struggles this year have exacerbated fans' general frustrations with the club. When the team struggles against the bottom teams in the league, despite a roster than is generally considered, on paper, to be extremely talented, all of the other frustrations about the stadium and the coach are made more apparent..

For myself and the rest of the fans, as it relates to the on-field and off-field situations, again I ask:

"Indy Eleven, What's Goin' On?"

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