The Oppo: Indy Eleven

Let the fun begin.

Robbie Mehling, www.soctakes.com

This is it. The last edition of the Oppo. The season is right around the corner now, and Indy Eleven comes to town this weekend, May 1st. With two polar opposite results in the past, let’s take a look into Indy and find out what to expect from the XI this weekend.   

Overview

Indy is a well established team in the USL, and they’ve seen their fair share of ups and downs. That seems to be Indy in a nutshell.  

A team that entered existence in the 2016 NASL , finishing 2nd. Skip ahead and they find themselves 16th in 2018, the first year under the USL banner. Only to finish 4th and make a semi-final playoff run then next year in 2019. 

Indy have had two MLS bids denied to them. Once in 2017, and again in 2019. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride Indy seems to be. That even applies to the Indy v Legion tie particularly. The results have been wild. Indy won at home 3-0. Then lost away 1-0 with only ten men on the pitch. 

Might this be the year Indy Eleven find some consistency?  

Coaches

Martin Rennie. He seems to bring success wherever he goes. He has no hesitation to change up a roster for success. Just look at his last three head coaching jobs. 

He took over the North Carolina Railhawks, dismantled their roster, and made them one of the best teams in the country. He brought in overseas experience to Vancouver Whitecaps. Then made them the very first Canadian team to make the MLS playoffs. That was his first year in charge. He then spent some time in Korea, and gave 18 players their first professional debuts while leading Seoul E-Land to the playoffs in their inaugural year.

2020 looks to have been a one off year for Rennie. Like many other teams, the stop start season took its toll on Indy. 18th on the table last year looks really bad, but they just barely missed a playoff spot in their group. Coach Rennie seems to have already put that from the players minds as they are off to a good preseason start with a 3-0 win over Forward Madison, and a hard fought draw against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Indy announced their newest assistant coach earlier this month. Max Rogers, is finishing up his UEFA Pro License certification and will round out the coaching squad for the XI this season.

Roster 

Martin Rennie seems to be up to his usual tactics. Bring in some experience. If history is any indicator, when Rennie makes changes to the squad they are hugely impactful. He’ll be looking for the same effect in his two newest acquisitions midfielders Patrick Seagrist, and Jamaican international Peter-Lee Vassell.

Seagrist is coming in on loan from MLS side Inter Miami FC. He spent some time and got some first team minutes with New York Red Bulls last season before being picked up by Miami in the off season. If Seagrist can bring his MLS caliber play to Indy, look for him on the most assist list this year.

Peter-Lee Vassell will be pivotal for Indy Eleven this year. He’s been with some very impressive sides recently. He had first team minutes with 2019 Supporters Shield winners LAFC, before being loaned out to Phoenix Rising FC and helping them to their 2019 season title. Making regular appearances and goals for the “Reggae Boys,” on stages such as the CONCACAF Nations League, and CONCACAF Gold Cup doesn’t hurt his resume either. 

Missing out on the playoffs, even a canceled one, doesn’t seem to sit well with Rennie. Making some big moves in his midfield could be the difference in just barely missing out, and making a run to the finals.   

Schedule

Indy meets an intensely motivated Birmingham Legion this weekend at BBVA field. While the Legion have looked in great form throughout the preseason, Indy may have found what they were looking for. Consistency. No losses in two looks good going away from home. Two competitive teams are going to look to get off the mark against each other this weekend. This one is gonna be won by at least two goals, one way or the other. 

Other than trying to start their campaign off on the right foot in enemy territory, the end of June looks like a proving ground for the XI. They’ll be playing 3 games in the span of just 11 days. 

Indy meets the Riverhounds, who they just drew 1-1 with in preseason, at home June 15th. Then away to Sporting KC II. Before finishing out the month away to Louisville City FC. This will be the second of 4 LIPAFC derbys, and good time to evaluate if those new midfield additions are going to work out for Indy Eleven. 

Conclusion

Indy Eleven will be a threat in the central division, and USL in general this year. The history of his coaching career leads me to believe that when Rennie brings in players, they make the team better. For what was already a good team, this could mean tough times for the central division soon.  

Final Grade: B+

Missing the playoffs last year takes the A way from Rennie and the XI, but the intentions of their off season signings keeps expectations high. Don’t expect to see Indy firing on all cylinders right off, but do keep an eye out for them in the playoffs this year.

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