Friday, November 12, 2021

Indy Eleven 2021 Recap & 2022 Off-Season Outlook

All it takes is a look at Indy's timeline to the right to see why the Eleven are spending the post-season watching the playoffs, rather than participating in them. They had one three-game undefeated streak, and a couple of two-game undefeated streaks, but could never win more than two games in a row, and they did that just once. The team had a -15 goal differential, scoring just 32 goals in 32 games. 

Indy signed 26 new players for the season, including four last-ditch effort signings in mid- to late-September. Overall, the team had 40 players that were signed for the 2021 season. Admittedly, five of those were players that were signed and then shipped somewhere else before the season ever started (Newton to Vancouver Whitecaps, Pasher to Houston Dynamo, Penn drafted by Inter Miami, Guitar drafted by Chicago Fire and then subsequently loaned to Memphis, and Cal Jennings acquired by LAFC and then subsequently loaned to Las Vegas). However, Indy had 28 players see playing time this year, including the first time the team has ever played 3 goalkeepers in a season after the team acquired Eric Dick on loan after Jordan Farr was injured. There were also another 9 players that saw time during the friendly against the Chicago Fire (mostly Academy players). That's a lot of inconsistency in the lineups from game-to-game.

The most common refrain about this team is that on-paper they should be performing better than they did. There is a ton of talent on the Indy roster, but for some reason it just never consistently clicked. Some of it can be attributed to injuries in key locations; Farr, Hackshaw, Cochran, Haworth, etc. all seeing extended injury spells. Some of it can likely be attributed to tactics. Some of it can be attributed to bad luck and bad bounces (see Memphis game in June).

A lot of how Indy moves on from this season will be dependent on the next coach and the next group of players. There are going to be some guys who are returning due to contractual obligations, but Indy is primed for yet another scorched earth rebuild. Let's get into all of that now and forget about this year's 9W-8D-15L season.

Looking to 2023


This isn't a complete regurgitation of what I wrote last year, but it's close since almost nothing has changed from a fan's perspective. The team announced that they were going to announce a location by the end of March. The end of March came and went and many suspected the announcement was being delayed due to Indy taking on the task of hosting the entire men's NCAA Division 1 basketball tourney, from start to finish. As the year progressed, and the season finished, no announcement has been made. The current statement from the team is that "land acquisition" is underway. Where and why it is taking so long are complete unknowns. Other than those details, here is a regurgitated run-down of a few of the key points from the law that provides some of the funding for the stadium:

  • Indy still have approval from the state legislature to build a development thanks to Senate Enrolled Act 7. 
  • The stadium and development still need to be within Marion County. 
  • The stadium and development can be "discontigous," but within 1 mile of each other. 
  • Indy Eleven's ownership group has to provide 20% of the cost of the stadium, whether up-front or throughout the life of the loan. 
  • Final approval needs to go through the State, City of Indianapolis, and the Capital Improvement Board.

In last year's review of the season, I indicated that it was my understanding that that the team intended to use Lucas Oil Stadium "for the foreseeable future," which I thought would include this year. That was obviously not the case as Indy played at Carroll Stadium in 2021 and will be playing there in 2022. Now Carroll Stadium is being discussed as the location "for the foreseeable future." In an interview that Nicky Law did with the Soccer Snobs Podcast, Nicky described the field at Carroll, saying, "it's bad. It's probably as bad as I've played anyways...Struggle to walk for next few days after." Obviously, that's disappointing. Was it a factor in why Nicky couldn't play in the final two games of the season? I don't know, but I'm sure it didn't help.

We do know that the Lafayette Square Mall site looks to be completely off the table as the IBJ recently had an article about how the current owner of that property is going to develop the land. While it includes soccer fields, it doesn't include a stadium. I had a series of tweets in early October where I discussed the use of the old GM Stamping plant site, which is now owned by Elanco, due to an interview that Ersal did with Seth Morales of the Morales Group. There were some intriguing statements from Ersal, but it's all just guesswork at this point. Some folks raised the idea of the property on 16th Street across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I evaluated that in mid-September. 

Before all of that:

I do not have any other updates on a location nor do I feel like speculating about any other locations, having covered the stadium multiple times over the years. If I get any hints of a direction, I'll post another stadium specific article.


I was correct in last year's off-season outlook that Rennie would return for the 2021 season. I didn't expect, though, that he would have a controlled meltdown on camera with Rakestraw and Hauter after the Pittsburgh game in June and that the next day he and the team would "mutually part ways." As I indicated in that article, "Officially, Rennie led the team in 99 games, with a 45W-35L-19D record, or a 45.5% win percentage (or getting at least a point from a game 64.6% of the time). Counting a win in a friendly against Detroit City FC in August 2019, Rennie officially reached the #CenturyClub for Indy."

Thrown in as interim coach was Max Rogers, a recent addition to the assistant group. He, Phil Presser, and Andy Swift coached by committee, but Rogers was the face. Rogers finished this season with a 6W-7D-11L record. A record that is doubtful to keep him around as the permanent coach moving forward.

To date, there are only rumors about the new coach, most of which are probably (or are completely) incorrect. Everybody I have asked that I trust to give me an honest answer have said that very few people in the Indy Eleven organization know the status of the coach hiring search. Though I was told that of the 100+ candidates that expressed interest after Rennie's departure, the search has been whittled down to a single person. An announcement could be forthcoming, depending on when pen meets paper. Honestly, with the way the coach carousel has gone this year, I can't even begin to guess who it might be. Some very high profile names have been mentioned to me as having interest and some very high profile names have been mentioned as having no interest (a certain coach from a team down I-65 falls into this latter category).


The 2021 season was the fourth season under Coach Rennie (and then Rogers). As I've discussed over the years in these, it seems like the majority of the player contracts for Indy Eleven have the appearance of 2 year contracts or 1 year contracts with a 2nd year option. With this year's rebuild, it's difficult to say how many of the guys are on the former and how many are on the latter. However, without a permanent coach announced yet, I don't expect to see any player announcements until the coach is announced. Between the contracts and what style of play the new coach wants to impart, player announcements might be awhile. The ability to guess which players might be returning is a crap shoot in the best of years. This year with the introduction of a new coach after the last coach did a rebuild the year before, it might be an impossible task, particularly if some of the players are contractually obligated to return. Based entirely off of nothing, here are what players I expect might be somewhere else and who might be returning.:

Probably gone:

  1. Liu - Aidan was on loan and managed just 44 minutes this season, all of them late in the season as injuries forced Rogers to dig deep into the bench. History has indicated that guys with that amount of minutes don't stick around for a second season.
  2.  Haworth - Guessing this year was the second year of a two year contract, and Carl managed just 50 minutes this season due to injury. While only 32 years old and still talented, this one will come down to what the new coach is looking for in players and if Haworth fits into that system.
  3. Seagrist - Another player loaned from a larger club, Inter Miami, Patrick's minutes were likely exactly what Inter Miami wanted to see in his development. Whether he returns to Miami and stays is not part of my evaluation, but I bet he doesn't return to Indy next season.
  4. Moon - Every year, there seems to be at least one player that we all want back that finds more money somewhere else. Like Haworth above, Moon has been here two years and is likely out of contract. Other teams have noticed Moon and I fear he's gone.

Possibly gone:

  1. Ayoze - at Ayoze's age, he might have difficulty finding another team, though not because his talent has waned. Ayoze is still quite often the most talented player on the field and whose first touch, intellect, and vision of the field will keep him on the field another year if he desires continuing. His age, though, may be to a point where he's ready to retire. However, it's anybody's guess on whether he drinks some more from the fountain of youth he's found and returns for another year to take a beating on the turf at Carroll.
  2. Ouimette -  Karl was a Rennie man and his minutes waned at the end of the season for Rogers with the introduction of the late season signings. This will be another where it will depend on the coach that is brought in on whether "Beans" is with us for another season. 
  3. Vassell - Talent showed up in moments, but his ability to maintain the ball concerns me a bit. Whether the new coach shares that concern could determine whether Peter is back next year.
  4. Farr - He's beloved here. He's now also beloved in San Antonio. You don't become an emergency signing one day and then start for the team the next day without having ability. The fact that all of that happened for Jordan, and is getting to continue playing in the post-season, means that at least one team took notice of his ability and they are in the Western Conference. Farr needed regular minutes and he got them this year. I think he's gone.

Possibly returning:

  1. Hackshaw - May be the best left back in the league. Unless Hackshaw wants to be somewhere else, and he just finished year 3, the next coach would be hard pressed to find another player with his ability and talent, and he already has a connection here.
  2. Adewole, Ledesma, Partida, Doyle - I'll lump all four of these guys in here together for the same reasons. Maybe they were willing to sign a short-term month-long contract, but I would be surprised if they weren't signed with the intent that they would be returning next year. So unless something drastic happens with their contract with the next coach, I expect all four of these guys back.
  3. Gutjahr, Buckmaster - Young guys with a local connection. Likely enough for them to stick around. Again, subject to the next coach.
  4. Edwards - I have concerns about Edwards ability to consistently play out of the back, but he showed his ability to stop shots on numerous occasions this year. Not sure if he is at full-time #1 level yet, but proved to be effective when forced into action. Second year of a 2 year contract or option on the second? 
  5. Timmer - Timmer proved his versatility this season, playing in a number of positions. I can see him as a dedicated holding midfielder in the next coach's formation. Given the contract issues, his versatility could be something that the next coach can utilize.
  6. Cochran - All going to come down to next coach and existing contract requirements.
  7. Sissoko - Same as Cochran.
  8. Koffie - Same as Sissoko. 

Hope they return:

  1. Arteaga - Team's leading scorer. Poacher with a non-stop engine. Hope he's back.
  2. Law - For me, it was Nicky and Ayoze as the top talent on the team this year. It would be a shame if he didn't return. He has expressed that he wanted to make the move to the States for awhile. Whether he saw Indy as a stepping stone to somewhere else could be a possibility, but I had a gut feeling that he wouldn't have made the jump without a guaranteed two year contract.
  3. Wild - Much like Arteaga (and Moon), his desire to attack the goal was never in question. Whether he could effectively do that when forced to kick with his right food is another story. However, another year with Arteaga-Law-Wild and their familiarity could prove to be key.

Final Thoughts

With back-to-back seasons out of the playoffs and the amount of budget that Indy has compared to other teams, the expectation will be that the coach and the players will have to be an immediate impact. Some familiarity between players might be enough to see a good portion of the roster return. 

Carroll Stadium may be the place that many fans hold dear to their hearts, but Indy need to take a tangible step towards Eleven Park, in whatever form that takes right now. The team moved off the bottom rung on the stadium, but their persistent placement on that next run has started to make fans believe that the stadium won't happen. "Land acquisition" needs to change to questions about the design and construction of the stadium. While it's basically an amateur team, Indy's addition of a women's team in the USL-W League is a key step to make me think that Indy might move to the USL women's Super League in the near future. A stadium will help with that addition. Team officials have indicated to me that the team is working on the women's team details, but wouldn't provide a timeline for that. For good reason: see the above discussion of the team's announcement of a stadium announcement by end of March 2021. 

Indy is going to have a busy off-season. New coach. New players. Stadium announcement? Every single detail of a women's team. Strap in Indy fans, it's going to be a busy off-season.

1 comment:

Hammer said...

This was my first my first season being a fan. I enjoyed your blog. Helped me catch up with all the history and insights. I am looking forward to the busy off season and hopefully a more successful 2022.