Former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Juergen Sommer will guide the fortunes of Indy Eleven having been named Director of Soccer Operations and Head Coach of the North American Soccer League club.
Sommer has the distinction of being the first American goalkeeper to play in the English Premier League when he lined up between the posts for Queens Park Rangers in 1995 following a successful spell with Luton Town. The role is a homecoming for Sommer, who attended high school at Culver Academy in northern Indiana and won a college national championship at Indiana University where he was named Soccer America’s Goalkeeper of the Year as a senior in 1990.
“The NASL welcomes Juergen to the family,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “As the first American goalkeeper to play in the FA Premier League, he joins a long list of global soccer pioneers in NASL. After meeting him, I'm confident he will take Indy Eleven to the highest level of pro soccer in the U.S. and beyond.”
Indy Eleven received resumes from across the world in the hopes of landing the club’s top coaching spot, but in the end kept its invitation inside the Hoosier State in appointing Sommer. 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.”
Sommer played 66 times for QPR in London, having made 82 appearances for Luton Town, and won 10 international caps for the U.S. Men’s national Team. He saw action with the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution of MLS before 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 was an Assistant Coach at Indiana University from 2004-07 under Mike Frietag; the Goalkeeper Coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team under the direction of Bob Bradley, from 2007-10; and had a six-year stint with Carmel United Soccer Club as Head Coach of some of the club’s elite Boys travel squads.
“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.”
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