Welcome to Juergen Sommer! He’s been announced as the first head coach and director of soccer operations for the Indy Eleven. The team held a press conference last night, and then a welcome party at Flat 12 to give fans a chance to meet the newest member of the Eleven. Nuvo has a great, in-depth interview with Sommer; it’s well worth a read.
I wasn’t able to attend the event, unfortunately, but by all reports it was a good time. It’s great that the team set up time for grassroots connections right after the announcement; it’s obvious that they’re just as concerned with connecting to fans as they are with the media, and that’s a lot of fun.
Sommer had a long career as a goalkeeper in England and the US; I won’t summarize what you can read elsewhere. I will however include a YouTube video of his 1991 debut with Brighton & Hove Albion, which features a totally boss keeper’s kit with a green jersey and purple-and-white striped shorts. There’s some good video of him at Luton Town too, including a fine save in a 0-1 win over Oxford Town.
Sommer hasn’t been a head coach before, at least in the pro ranks. He’s been an assistant coach with IU and the goalkeeper coach for the USMNT under Bob Bradley. But Peter Wilt has a good history with hiring new coaches; the first coach of the Chicago Fire was none other than that same Bob Bradley, in his first professional head coach role.
I don’t have a lot of thought to offer on Sommer as the coach; he sounds good and his resume appears to be a good fit. His first ten months of work won’t be usual coaching stuff anyway — he’ll be hiring staff, considering facilities, building a team from the ground up, establishing connections, etc. He’ll also have a significant PR role as perhaps the #1 or #2 face of the team, depending on how he splits that role with Wilt.
I will say though that my initial reaction is immensely favorable. I’m looking forward to what he’ll bring to the club, and I hope there are more public events soon where I can get out to meet him. And I will also take this pledge: I hereby announce that I will refrain from using any and all puns based on his name, in either headlines or text. You have no idea how tempting it is — but I’m just not going to add to the pile of the jokes we’ll see all Sommer. (sorry!)
So: Welcome! Wishing him all the best and looking forward to seeing what he puts on the Carroll Stadium pitch in March 2014.