The World Cup has certainly had its Wow Moments. My Favorites are Renaldo and Portugal tying Spain with the late Free kick, Mexico’s classic win over defending champion Germany, and Iceland’s surprising victory over Argentina and Lionel Messi. Who would have guessed that favorites Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina would all have ties or losses in the first games? Of course one big storyline has been the use of VAR – Video Review – I for one love it. As a referee myself – I would love to be able to go to the monitor and see if I missed seeing a penalty or hand ball or offsides. I honestly think it has been working fantastically so far. Also cool to see the US MLS Referees being involved – great story below on the experience of handling VAR for a year leading to more US referees being involved this year.
Our Indy 11 coming off a 2 game winning streak return home next weekend for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa. Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code. July 4th will be military night with ½ priced tickets for military personnel and of course Indy’s Downtown Spectacular Fireworks Show after the game. The game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field. Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congrats to the 2 Indiana Teams (Indy Premier U16 Girls and St Francis U19 Boys) advancing to the Finals of the US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup July 11-15 at Grand Park.
After the ultra successful first camp in early June – Carmel FC has added another camp headed up by Director Juergen Sommer at Shelbourne from July 23rd thru 26th from Click here to Register.
Here’s the MLS rankings this week as we get a showdown of the top team in the East Atlanta United hosting the hottest team in the West with 8 straight wins or ties in Portland at 4 pm after the World Cup game Sunday on Fox 59.
US & MLS
Egypt Keeper Save Save of the Day WC Day 1
CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th – Click here to Register
GAMES ON TV This Week
|THURSDAY, JUNE 21|
|8 a.m. ET||FS1||France vs. Peru|
|11 a.m. ET||Fox||Denmark vs. Australia|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox||Argentina vs. Croatia|
|FRIDAY, JUNE 22|
|8 a.m. ET||FS1||Brazil vs. Costa Rica|
|11 a.m. ET||Fox||Nigeria vs. Iceland|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox||Serbia vs. Switzerland|
|SATURDAY, JUNE 23|
|8 a.m. ET||Fox||Belgium vs. Tunisia|
|11 a.m. ET||Fox||Germany vs. Sweden|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox||South Korea vs. Mexico|
|SUNDAY, JUNE 24|
|8 a.m. ET||FS1||England vs. Panama|
|11 a.m. ET||Fox||Japan vs. Senegal|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox||Poland vs. Colombia|
|MONDAY, JUNE 25|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Uruguay vs. Russia|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Iran vs. Portugal|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Spain vs. Morocco|
|TUESDAY, JUNE 26|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Australia vs. Peru|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Denmark vs. France|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Iceland vs. Croatia|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Nigeria vs. Argentina|
|WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||South Korea vs. Germany|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Mexico vs. Sweden|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Switzerland vs. Costa Rica|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Serbia vs. Brazil|
|THURSDAY, JUNE 28|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Japan vs. Poland|
|10 a.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Senegal vs. Colombia|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||England vs. Belgium|
|2 p.m. ET||Fox/FS1||Panama vs. Tunisia|
Tues , July 3rd
Fri, July 6
10 am FS1 World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50
2 pm FS1 World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54
Sat, July 7
10 am World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56
2 pm World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52
4:30 pm FS1 LAFC vs Orlando City
10:30 ESPN+ Vancouver vs Chicago Fire
Sun, July 8
7 pm FS1 NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudsen River Darby)
RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SECURE THREE POINTS AGAINST TORONTO FC II, 3-1
By Trey Higdon, 06/17/18, 12:30AM EDT A brace from Braun sees Indy claim back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018
Indy Eleven pull away in a 1-3 victory against Canadian contenders Toronto FC II. The victory marks the first time the “Boys in Blue” have registered two consecutive wins in the 2018 season, which puts the team in fifth place.The night started strong for both teams. Toronto made the first breakaway run into Indy’s 18-yard box in the fourth minute. Defender Carlyle Mitchell did well to neutralize the early attack, one-on-one, which led Indy forward Justin Braun to make a similar run four minutes later.Indy continued to apply pressure with runs from Braun, forward Soony Saad and defender Kevin Venegas. The constant assault saw Indy take the lead.In the 23rd minute, Venegas rushed up the right edge of the pitch unopposed after he gained the ball near center field. The former Minnesota United FC defender made a sharp turn into the edge of Toronto’s 18-yard box and continued his run through the home side’s defenses. Venegas slotted the ball past Toronto goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano from near post to give “Indiana’s Team” the lead. The goal was Venegas’ first since signing for Indy Eleven earlier this year.Toronto came close to the night’s first goal in the 16th minute after two chances from loose balls in front of Indy’s goal, but Venegas and Mitchell ended the threat. Instead, Toronto settled for an equalizer fve minutes after the “Boys in Blue’s” opening goal.Short passing play by Toronto forward Aidan Daniels saw striking partner Ayo Akinola bag his goal from distancein the 28th minute. The goal, which ended in the upper left of the corner of the net, was Akinola’s third in 2018.The stalemate didn’t extend beyond the first half thanks to Braun. In the only minute of first-half stoppage time, Venegas forced a pass through a group of Toronto defenders in their 6-yard box to Braun, who was quick to shoot and score. The goal was Braun’s first since his return from injury last August.Indy widened its lead five minutes after half time with a headed effort from Braun. Passing play from midfielders Seth Moses and Matt Watson in the 50th minute saw service delivered to Braun inside the 6-yard box. Braun’s header ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and over the line. The goal sealed the win for Indy.Toronto almost pulled one back in the 94th minute with a wide strike from substitute midfielder Malik Johnson. The low strike skid toward the right post, which led to Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams to dive for the save. The Welshman managed to keep the ball out by the tips of his gloves.Though it was the players who scored the goals, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie credits his coaching staff for their work behind the scenes.“I think a lot of credit goes to my assistant coaches, Phil Dos Santos and Dave Dixon, for the preparation they do to get the players ready for a team where it’s hard to know who’s going to play,” Rennie said. “It’s hard to know what kind of system they’re [Toronto] going to play, but Phil and Dave got it spot on. That helped the players a lot going into the game.”The “Boys in Blue” hit the road again Tuesday, June 26, in a rematch against Nashville SC “Indiana’s Team” will return home on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m., for Pride Night against Penn FC. Fans can get tickets to the next home match starting at just $15 by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100. USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 3:1 Toronto FC II
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Marina Auto Stadium – Rochester, New York
IND – Kevin Venegas 23′
TOR – Ayo Akinola (Aidan Daniels) 28′
IND – Justin Braun (Kevin Venegas) 45+1′
IND – Justin Braun (Matt Watson) 50′
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Ring 76′), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra, Seth Moses; Soony Saad (Eugene Starikov 74′), Justin Braun (Ben Speas 87′)Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK);
World Cup 2018 Day 8 winners and losers: How it all went wrong for Argentina and Messi
It was as if Lionel Messi knew. As if the mourning had already begun, before the scene that would culminate in the fatal blow even unraveled. The image has already become a meme. But it was more than that. It was pressure. It was expectation. Expectation soon to be unfulfilled.Shortly before 90 of the worst minutes of his prolific career, as millions of Argentineans around the world roared along with their national anthem, Messi shut his eyes and brought a pale right hand to his forehead. His head was slightly bowed. Over the next two hours, the World Cup that was supposed to be his fell apart. A 3-0 loss to Croatia pushed him and Argentina to the brink. It left the soccer world stunned. And it left a single question on the tips of tongues everywhere: How? How did Argentina, with arguably the greatest player the sport has ever seen, flounder so calamitously? How did a team with Lionel Messi become a national disgrace?
Back to that image. To Messi’s agonized rubs of his forehead. Because they were telling.Messi seemed acutely aware of the torment approaching. And perhaps we should have been as well. His face told of expectations that didn’t align with the team trying to meet them. So perhaps we should have lowered them.The warning signs were there. They had been present for weeks, months, even years.essi’s brilliance afforded shelter from reality. And reality was that Argentina, over the past two years, was never all that good. It limped through qualifying, bailed out only by a Messi hat trick on the final night.Reality was that throughout Messi’s Argentina career, and especially recently, there have been inherent, structural problems. That Messi had not figured out how to mesh with his Argentinean teammates, nor them with him. Three managers had tried to facilitate that relationship throughout qualifying with tactics both complex and simple. All three had failed. Those incompatible relationships – between Messi and teammates’ skill sets, between Messi and coaches’ systems, between Messi and outsize on-field expectations – are at the heart of Argentina’s 2018 World Cup disaster. And blame for them lies everywhere, including with Messi, but not exclusively with Messi. In fact, far from it.All the bearers of Argentinean blame are the losers of Day 8 in Russia.
It is often known as Messi Dependencia – Messi Dependence. It was as extreme as ever in Argentina’s opener against Iceland. And it’s the result of a years-long vicious cycle, one that turned a team of many talents into a team of one. Or, on Thursday, a team of none.Messi’s gifts are gravitational. Teammates naturally turn to him. The ball invariably finds his feet. And Messi, being the genius that he is, so often has rewarded their faith. Given the keys to the Argentinean car, he has driven it to success.But his individual success feeds into teammates’ willingness to rely on him. They yield to greatness. He makes magic. And positive reinforcement kicks in; the ball finds Messi’s feet more and more often. Teammates turn to him with increasing automation.That’s how the dependence developed, and it became habitual. It became an addiction impossible to break. Managers, consequentially, have understood this and structured teams around Messi. That, too, has facilitated the reliance even more.And the more teammates were made to feel like secondary or tertiary characters, the less responsibility they took; the more they disengaged; the more they underperformed. And the more they became incapable of picking up the slack when Messi misfired. And when Messi did misfire …
Loser: Lionel Messi
Argentina’s reliance on Messi made his performances binary propositions. Either he succeeded or failed. Against Iceland, his free kicks struck foreheads; his curling 20-yard efforts whizzed by posts; his penalty was palmed away. So he failed.His failure left manager Jorge Sampaoli with a decision, one with which so many coaches have grappled in the past. Was the remedy to increase the effectiveness of Messi? Or empower 10 others at the expense of No. 10?Sampaoli chose the latter. He made three changes and swapped a coherent 4-2-3-1 for an undefined mess of a 3-4-3. And Messi got lost within it, just as he had warned Sampaoli he would months ago. His 49 touches were the fewest of any Argentina outfield player who went 90 minutes. He was borderline invisible.And his teammates were flat-out bad.Some of his invisibility, of course, is on Sampaoli, and on those teammates. But Messi cannot escape blame. He sputtered with responsibility on Matchday 1, then was unable to take it when it wasn’t given to him on Matchday 2. He didn’t do enough to get on the ball. He didn’t do enough with it when he did.Against an opponent intent on suffocating him, rather than rise above, he disappeared.
Losers: Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentinean federation
Until this past week, there was hope that Sampaoli could find a solution. That he could wean Argentina off its Messi Dependencia, or at least find alternative routes to success.He never did, and resorted to lunatic lineup changes for the Croatia game. But did he ever really have sufficient time?His and Argentina’s preparation for the tournament was badly mishandled. Messi missed the first set of warmup friendlies in March due to injury, rendering them useless. Sampaoli then got just one May friendly to experiment before the World Cup. The Argentinean soccer federation scheduled a misguided exhibition match in Israel. It was cancelled over safety concerns. Argentina went to Russia with just 90 minutes against Haiti – an experience far from translatable to Iceland or Croatia – under its belt. It therefore went to Russia still unsure of who it was.And was Sampaoli the right choice in the first place? His insistence on ravenous pressing was an awful match for an old, slow rearguard. It didn’t suit Messi either. Sampaoli was put in position to fail. That’s not on him. It’s on the federation.
Loser: Argentinean randomness
Nonetheless, there are still so many what ifs. What if Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson had guessed the other way? What if Sampaoli had simply started Franco Armani instead of Willy Caballero? What if Caballero’s gaffe had travelled 20 yards in the air instead of 10?
Belief still lingers. Belief in Argentina’s theoretical potential. Belief in Messi. Belief that if only Argentina can luck its way into the knockout round, a solution can be found. And if the answers to any of the above questions had been different, to the knockout round is likely where Argentina would be headed. In addition to all the structural problems and underachieving, a lot of bad luck has left Argentina on the verge of elimination. A lot of unexpected occurrences.But that was no consolation to Sampaoli as he stormed off down the tunnel. That was no consolation to Messi as he wandered off the field, bereft. Thursday was the culmination of countless faults and shortcomings. And under the utmost pressure, Argentina cracked.
Lost in the Argentina furor will be deserved praise for Croatia, which is on to the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since the 20th century. It is in pole position to win Group D and avoid France. The quarterfinals beckon. The so-called golden generation – an overused term, but it applies here – is, at long last, coming good.
Loser: Argentinean hope
Argentina is still in with a realistic chance of progression. Its hope rests on a victory over Nigeria on Matchday 3, and on Iceland picking up three or fewer points from its final two games. So the Argentines will be rooting for Nigeria in Group D’s other Matchday 2 fixture.
But with Croatia already qualified, manager Zlatko Dalic said after Thursday’s game that he’ll rest players in the group finale. That bolsters Iceland’s shot at a result there, and cuts further into any leftover Argentinean optimism.
Loser: Javier Mascherano
Javier Mascherano has had great moments in an Albiceleste shirt. This, on Croatia’s third goal, was not one of them:
Frankly, it was embarrassing. And it was emblematic of a performance that felt overly emotional and desperate from start to finish. When fortune turned its back, players’ heads sunk. Frustration boiled over. A few quit.That’s why, despite the many scenarios that could still see Argentina through, this felt like the end. And it’s why the inquest is underway.
Cordeiro: 2026 World Cup could make soccer top sport in North America
June 13, 201811:41AM EDT
The first FIFA World Cup in the United States in 1994 helped birth Major League Soccer.When the World Cup returns here in 2026, as part of a unique United bid between the United States, Canada and Mexico, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro believes the event will be a “lightning rod” to make soccer the “preeminent sport in North America.”“We believe that soccer or football will become the preeminent sport in North America,” Cordeiro said. “I’m not just speaking for the U.S., I think I speak for Canada.”In a conference call with reporters just hours after the FIFA vote that awarded 2026 hosting rights to North America’s United bid, Cordeiro said he expects the World Cup to vastly increase participation among kids in the United States.“We believe this event will become a lightning rod, will become transformational for the sport as kids who are now eight, 10, 12 years old can all dream of potentially playing for a national team,” he said. “By in large, we need more kids, boys and girls, in the United States playing soccer inside the umbrella of the Federation, we don’t have enough of them. Three-and-a-half or four million registered kids, we believe there are many more out there who could be playing with us.”As for challenging baseball, basketball and gridiron football, Cordeiro admits there is a lot of competition. The same is true in Canada, with ice hockey considered the national pastime.But serving as a co-host for a “world-class event, the scope of which we haven’t seen in our country,” according to Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, could change things.“Ultimately our focus is to grow our sport or our game and to provide the impetus for that. There’s a strength in numbers in our country where we’ve got over one million registered players in a country that only has over 30 million in total population,” Reed said. “It’s one of the strongest sports, one of the largest sports and I think we can become the preeminent sport in our country. That’s the legacy we would love to see.”
Osorio’s former MLS players say he can take Mexico to World Cup success
June 14, 20186:03PM EDTDave ZeitlinContributor
They all remember the notebook.Anyone who played under Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio will tell you how he always used to jot down notes in his little spiral pad, using a red and blue pen to differentiate attacking players from defenders.“You can still see him doing it now,” says New York Red Bulls II head coach John Wolyniec, who played under Osorio with the Red Bulls in 2008 and 2009.“I never quite got a peek inside of it,” adds Calen Carr, who suited up for him in 2007 when Osorio took over a last-place Chicago Fire team midway through the season and led them into the playoffs.But even though it may have been shrouded in mystery, that notebook was symbolic of Osorio’s meticulous nature during his three-year-run as an MLS head coach. And it’s that nature, some of his old MLS players believe, that can perhaps help Mexico snap a streak of six straight Round of 16 exits at the World Cup.El Tri open Sunday vs. defending champs Germany, with both sides looking to win Group F to avoid a potential meeting with Brazil in their first knockout game.“If there is a manager that can get Mexico to finally get over the hurdle,” Carr says, “I think Juan Carlos would be as prepared to get his team as psychologically and physically ready as anybody.”Carr only played under Osorio for a short period of time in Chicago but nevertheless called him “one of my favorite coaches.” And he credits him for coming in right away and changing the mentality of the group because he knows how to “find a way to get people to really buy into what he’s doing.”Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin agrees with that sentiment, although he admits Osorio’s style is “unorthodox” and initially came as a “shock to some players.” Curtin was certainly shocked the first time he saw Osorio sleeping in the Fire’s film room.“His preparation for training sessions was pretty meticulous in terms of setting a cone down to literally the exact inch and being out on the field two hours before a session to make sure everything was up and running and not a minute was wasted,” says Curtin, who was injured during much of that 2007 season in Chicago, allowing him to more closely observe his coach.“To watch what he’s done with Mexico is not a surprise because he did the same thing in the short time I was around him in Chicago. He’s bold. He doesn’t care what people think and he doesn’t care what the media says. He has his way.”Osorio certainly has his share of critics with the Mexican fans and media but Curtin thinks that if you look at his 31-9-8 record with El Tri since taking over in late 2015, “not enough people talk about how good of a job he’s done there.” He and others also believe the Colombian is uniquely suited to do well in a tournament setting because of how sharp he is at scouting and how unafraid he is to make big adjustments when needed.“It’s no secret the criticism of Juan Carlos is he changes too much — changes formations, changes players,” Wolyniec says. “I think that comes from him coming at the game from a scouting perspective and reacting and adjusting to the opponent.”“If you look at his track record, he hasn’t been a lot of places too long,” Carr adds. “I think part of the reason is he comes in fast and he’s passionate and I think there’s something to that in getting the best out of people in a short format.”Carr also adds that not being Mexican may serve as an advantage because “he’s unburdened by some of the past, and I think he can help the team feel that way as well too.”Perhaps then, after the World Cup, he may also be in the running for the US national team coaching job?“I’d back him for it,” Carr says. “I think he checks a lot of boxes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him considered for that position, which would sort of be an interesting wrinkle in the US-Mexico rivalry.”Wolyniec agrees that Osorio certainly has the pedigree, work ethic, scouting chops, international experience and MLS background to make him a candidate for the USMNT job. But no matter where the 57-year-old ends up, or if he stays with Mexico, the Red Bulls II coach will continue to look to him as an inspiration, just as he has for the past decade.“The first thing you notice about Juan Carlos is his seriousness and his passion for the game,” Wolyniec says. “That comes off right away almost before he introduces himself. And that’s infectious.“He would say players pick up on anything, so if you misplace a cone or say the wrong player’s name, they’re going to pick up on that. So that’s why you have to be detailed and meticulous about what you’re doing.“He’s certainly an example to follow but a model that’s hard to replicate.”
USA vs China friendlies: 3 things we learned
There’s a good midfield somewhere in there, we just know it.
The United States put together a pair of close wins over China in June, winning 1-0 and 2-1. Their lone goal in the 1-0 win was an Alex Morgan header off a set piece, but their two goals in the second game came from open play. Perhaps Tobin Heath’s goal needed more than a pinch of luck, but that goal doesn’t happen without the nice buildup and Heath putting herself into position to shoot. But this wasn’t a case of individual brilliance overcoming bad tactics; in fact the tactics, at least in the second game, were fine, with three theoretically excellent midfielders to maintain control while the wings engaged and attacked from the flanks. It was that a good percentage of the team couldn’t execute on the night. Both Allie Long and Julie Ertz watched helplessly as passes rolled by half a step away in game 2, preventing smooth side-to-side transitions, and there were some messes with the defense. So here’s a few things we learned from USA vs China:
Sofia Huerta needs a lot more training at right back and she’ll probably never get it
Huerta did not have a good game 2. Game 1 showed her potential to be a complement to someone like Crystal Dunn, but her defensive work and decision making are not up to par for the USWNT. The problem is she’ll never get the repetitions she needs at right back to truly excel there, playing midfield/forward as she does for Chicago. There’s five games between now and World Cup qualifying. Maybe Tournament of Nations will be a crucible for Huerta, but is she really going to become a reliable enough RB by October that Ellis would risk starting her during qualifying? And then assuming the United States qualifies, will Ellis spend the time between then and June 2019 to make Huerta as complete a fullback as possible? Realistically, Huerta needs to be ready to go by the end of April at the latest. That’s six months after qualification to become a world class right back capable of competing in a World Cup.
One thing Huerta does have going for her is, like Dunn, she can switch around the field on the fly. Ellis might be taking into account her utility in being able to play almost anywhere on the right. The fullback pool is also a little thin on the ground at the moment, and even after Casey Short hopefully makes her triumphant return, that may still leave room for Huerta. There’s only one Crystal Dunn; they can’t just clone her and have her play both right and left fullback and forward.
Our central midfield pool is fine
Yes, our midfield did look sloppy in all its iterations. Game 1 was a mix of McCall Zerboni, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, and Sam Mewis. Game 2 used Mewis, Ertz, Horan, Morgan Brian, and Rose Lavelle. Of those players, Ertz, Brian, and Lavelle are all still recuperating. Brian was kind of quiet in the one half she did get, but showed flickers of her healthiest self operating in tight spaces and picking out the developing play.
Ellis rotated through Ertz, Long, and Zerboni as her holding mid; has Mewis, Brian, and Horan for box-to-box work; and Lavelle is once again a potential 10. Zerboni, Horan, Lavelle, and Mewis can all be asked to play higher and attack aggressively out of the midfield. Brian, Horan, and Lavelle can work the half spaces to help maximize our already dangerous flank play. And in a pinch, there’s good old battering ram Carli Lloyd, assuming her shift into central forward is just another piece of her toolkit and not a permanent move. That’s a lot of flexibility and talent! The question is who is going to become a starter and where; flexibility is nice, but stability can often be much better.
Christen Press can play wide
In game 2 of this friendly series, Christen Press was often the joint swinging the punch at China. Yes, China often gave her tons of room out on the right wing, which was odd considering how often she got fed the ball throughout the entire 90 minutes. But Press did a fine job playing the wide attacker, looking for Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in the box. “Should Press stay central or be forced wide” is a pretty healthy ongoing debate among soccer fans and last night added a tick to the “play her wide” column. Of course, versatility has been the watchword throughout this things-we-learned, and there’s still arguments that Press can play well as lone striker or in a front two. We’ll see what happens once Mal Pugh recovers from injury.
FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY – Indy 11S jUAN gUERRA
By Trey Higdon, 06/13/18, 2:30PM EDT
One of the greatest honors a player can receive is being called up to represent their country’s national team. It’s an opportunity many fight for, but only a handful experience in their playing careers.For Indy Eleven midfielder Juan Guerra, it was a dream come true. He was asked to wear his country’s colors in a series of qualifying rounds for Venezuela in the 2014 World Cup.“My agent called me on the phone and said ‘Listen, you’ll probably want to check the newspaper tomorrow because your name is going to be on the list of 23 players that are going to play the next two World Cup qualifying matches.’” Guerra said.His name first appeared on the Venezuelan National Team roster in the team’s monumental 1-0 win over Argentina, a first in the nation’s history. Though Guerra didn’t feature, the young Venezuelan was floored to be there.“I didn’t get to play that game, but it was the first time that Venezuela beat Argentina in a World Cup qualifying match,” Guerra said. “It was great because I was with the first team.”Soon after Venezuela defeated Argentina, Guerra received two additional call-ups to his country’s World Cup qualifying matches against Columbia and Chile. Guerra made a second-half substitution appearance against Columbia, but didn’t get any play time in the home game against Chile. Regardless, the experience was invaluable.“I did get to play against Columbia and we tied. We were playing away in Barranquilla and it was great being in a full stadium of more than 60,000 people. Playing in a match against people like Falcao, James Rodriguez. It’s an experience that I’m definitely never going to forget.”While growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, Guerra’s father would take him to see the Venezuelan National Team. which is often referred to as La Vinotinto, play in Barcelona, Venezuela, nearly 200 miles from their home.In his youth, Guerra received first hand experience watching his idols play. Idols who would one day become his friends and his mentors. One of who was former New York Cosmos and La Vinotinto teammate Juan Arango.“Juan was a main reference for all of us because he was one of the best players when I was young,” Guerra said. “He was one of the first players to get out of Venezuela and cause an impact in a main league around the world when he was playing in Spain.”Former Venezuelan forward Giovanni Savarese, another idol, would later coach Guerra during his time with the New York Cosmos. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Savarses played for top clubs around the world, which included stints with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and the English Premier League’s Swansea City.“My dad used to take me to the stadium to watch the National Team play and some of the team’s that Gio played for when he was in Venezuela,” Guerra said. “I would’ve never, ever have expected that after so many years we were going to develop such a good relationship.”Guerra found his footing in the United States’ professional system. He spent eight years in the US; four years in high school followed by another four years in college. During his collegiate career with Florida International University, he scored 15 goals in 44 appearances in his four-year stay. Guerra also spent a season with United Soccer League Premier Development League’s Brooklyn Knights, where he scored four goals in 15 appearances.In 2008, Guerra was drafted by MLS’ FC Dallas right after college, but was told after preseason he wouldn’t be signed by the club. Unsure of his future, Guerra decided to return to Venezuela to play professionally. He signed his first professional contract with Primera Division 1. League club Monagas SC.“It was tough at first,” Guerra said. “I had to go to a city with people I didn’t know after being in the US for eight years. At the time, I knew I was doing it for a reason, and the reason was that I wanted to play professionally. I wanted to make it all the way.”Removed from his comfort zone, Guerra made his on-field performance his main focus. Monagas’ manager at the time bestowed Guerra with the Captain’s armband after six months. To Guerra, it was a sign he had made the right decision to return home.“Being 21-years-old and being the team captain was an incredible responsibility and also gave me the confidence to know I could go all the way,” said Guerra.Guerra finished his only season at Monagas with one goal in 21 appearances. While he wasn’t a prolific scorer with the club, Guerra’s performance caught the attention of Venezuela’s most successful club, Caracas FC. He signed for Caracas the following season and helped his hometown club claim another Primera Division 1. League title. His career blossomed from there.“I played one year with Caracas and then got offered a contract to go play in Europe,” said Guerra. “After Europe, the National Team came, and so on, and so on.”In 2012, 24-year-old Guerra had signed a contract for top-flight Spanish club, Las Palmas. He only featured once for Las Palmas, but the minutes he didn’t get with his club was replaced with minutes on the pitch with the Venezuela National Team.“I’m very glad that I made the decision when I didn’t get picked by FC Dallas to go back home and started playing first division in Venezuela,” Guerra said.Venezuela failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which gives 31-year-old Guerra the ability to focus his energy on his first season with Indy Eleven and his son, Santiago. Attending training sessions and games has been the daily routine for Guerra’s small family, ensuring ‘Santi’ is a part Guerra’s journey as a player.“As soon as I got married, me and my wife talked about it.” Guerra said. “I told her that I wanted to have kids while I was still playing, and I wanted to make sure that our kids see me play and share the same passion. I didn’t want to have kids later on and to have to show them newspaper articles and to say ‘This was me. I used to play.’”Guerra’s wish was granted. Guerra and his wife, Maria, often have to keep Santiago from sleeping in his Indy Eleven jersey, and refrain from telling him when games are to keep him from staying up at night out of excitement. It’s become commonplace to see Santiago at the training grounds or on the field after a home match with a ball at his feet, happily dribbling back and forth.Santiago is years away from a professional career, but the world is focused on the next generation of players.In 2017, the Venezuelan National Team U-20 squad were runner-ups in the U-20 World Cup, falling to England’s U-20 side 0-1 in the Final. Though they didn’t win, it was the furthest Venezuela’s U-20 side had advanced in the tournament, having made it to the U-20 World Cup Second Round only once before.In the last 15 years, Venezuela has experienced political, cultural and economic turmoil. Guerra believes the role of a National Team player goes beyond the impact one makes on the pitch.“Understand that being called up for the National Team is not a gift, it’s a huge responsibility,” Guerra said. “Once you put on that jersey, you’re representing your country. You’re representing every single guy, girl and kid that dreams of putting on that jersey. You’re representing people that have to work seven days a week to put food on their table for their kids.”As Guerra and his Venezuelan teammates age out, it’s up to the next generation of athletes to take their places.“My time and my process with the National Team has already passed,” Guerra said. “It’s time for this new generation of kids that are young to get prepared for Qatar 2022.”
MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT
Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th. Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown. In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount. Use the promo-code “military18” and save today
Indiana Youth Soccer Night
Post-Game Photo On The Field
In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or email@example.com.