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  • Writer's pictureMichael Betz

Recapping "Meet the Coach Night" and thoughts about the upcoming season

On Wednesday January 31st, Indy Eleven fans got a chance to hear first hand from the newest head coach Sean McAuley talk about why he chose Indy and his thoughts on the team and how he wants to play this season. This write-up will be a mix of a recap of that night and my honest opinions regarding the team this season.

Greg Rakestraw first asked the coach what it has been like the last couple of weeks since taking over as coach. He immediately thanks the fans and says that it takes everyone to be together to get this club to be successful from the ownership to the fans. Sean said that the opportunity here in Indy stood out to him, stating that the club was very much a MLS club in the USL and that the vision that majority owner Ersal Ozdemir and club president Greg Stremlaw have was attractive as well. He mentioned that the roster that the team currently has is one that he can’t wait to get to work with. Greg then asked the questions of playing style, Sean said he has a way in mind that he wants to play and that players have to be able to adapt while also stating that as a coach you have to realize that the players you have have certain strengths and weaknesses that need to be planned for. He said that he wants every player to play with the same heart and passion that any fan would have given the opportunity to put on the kit. He said that he wants to see his team head towards the opposition's goal much faster than they can get to ours and much more often than we've had before. Coach says that he’s known a lot of the players he currently has on the roster.  When asked about players buying in he said those who buy in are the guys we need and the players that can’t will get moved on from stating “there are two types, those that can’t do it, and those who won't do it.” saying he can attempt to help those who can’t, but those who won’t, won't be here very long.  Sean places a very important label on the academy and youth teams saying that regardless of age and level that every player is treated the same and expected to continue to get better through every practice. When asked about the fans, Sean states that the passion of the fans should drive the team over the line. He says that it’s time for the team to put the work back in that the fans give out. He  also said that he wants to work with the fans to make the home games a fortress and make the road much easier with fan support. He said that he sees a disconnect between fans and players, players and management, and then management and ownership, stating “ Successful clubs don’t have that.”  He said we need to make sure it gets fixed and the disconnection doesn't happen again. 

Greg opened up for fan questions, the first question asked was about building connections with the community. Sean said that connections are made by two parties saying that he is making sure that the players and the club are working to make that connection. When asked about the U.S Open Cup Sean said that he hates that clubs use their second teams for the open cup calling it “ Disrespectful” especially for the MLS teams, stating that if an MLS team comes to disrespect us, we will come at that with an even more aggressive approach. The final question of the night was regarding acquiring players. Sean said that he is looking for players that are going to fit the mold of the team saying that he is looking at some MLS players that are released after the preseason, he states that every player that comes into this squad is going to be here to help this squad and the players get better. He ends with stating that the players will fight for their crest and that when the team hits a rough spot, that he needs the supporters to help pick the teams heads up and keep supporting through thick and thin. 

After the Q&A with Sean and Greg, Jonathan Rice (JR) and myself (MB) got a chance to speak with the players that were there and a brief talk with head coach Sean McAuley. We first got a chance to talk to Elliot Collier and Cam Lindley. When asked by JR about his expectations from the fans, Collier said that he wants fans to be loud and give energy to the team saying that “when we hear you guys, it really fuels us.” JR asked about thoughts of his experience as a player playing against ICI, Collier said it was funny that he would be heckled by fans when he played against us but amidst the heckles he heard fans say that they missed him and wanted him back. JR asks what he portrayed to all players about from the 2018 loan year. Collier says that the supporters are great and that he wasn’t fond of our “playoff lines” back at Lucas Oil. He also said  that they have to make sure the team does a good job giving back to us what we give to them saying that the team has to fight for the crest and do their best to represent the club, the city, and the fans. MB then asks Lindley his thoughts on the new coach and what fans can expect out of the team. Cam said that Sean has been very different saying that the play style should be more aggressive and more fun for the fans than recent years. Saying that we should expect an intense high goal, high tempo game as opposed to the slower soccer Indy fans have seen recently. Cam then goes on to say that Sean has set a great standard given his background and that he loves seeing that Sean has made sure all guys are here to work. Sean then pops in to answer a few questions. JR asks about his sideline actions. Sean said that he will be in a full tracksuit and that he won’t be shouting at the refs and has had talks about keeping cool with the refs, stating “controlled aggression” is the plan for both himself and his players. His expectations as a head coach are simple: win. MB went on to ask about what changes we can expect to see to avoid a repeat of this past years playoff run, Sean said “ We sign Augi” he said that we are going to have to approach all playoffs games as a “one and done” type deal to make sure that we progress to go get a championship here in Indy. JR asks Cam about fans, Cam says that he loves the fans and said that players have to buy in and get that connection to the fans back. 

MB and JR then got a chance to talk to Augi Williams. JR asks Augi about his take as coming to Indy as an opponent. Augi says that the Mike is such a hard place to play as an opponent and is excited to play in front of them. JR asks about expectations of the coach, Augi says that he wants to learn from Sean, to have Sean build on his weaknesses. MB asked about relationships so far, Augi said that he is excited to work with the playera and said he has built a connection to Cam already and that this team connections will come in due time and will build success. 

JR then sat down with Aodhan Quinn and got a chance to ask him some questions. JR asked about his thoughts on the fans going against him back in 2015. He said that the atmosphere is amazing even though the team lost. JR asked about his thoughts of the fans being behind him and Quinn says that he loved the fans being behind him and the team all year last year and that he wants to build more for the fans to be excited for. Quinn said that he was excited that Sean was coming to indy and says that he feels that the team is rolling in the right direction. JR asks about expectations. Sean said the normal expectation is to win regardless of whether it's regular pay or open cup. He said that it’s important that the team and the fans are a closer community than last season.

After all that now it’s for my thoughts on Wednesday night and some of my expectations for this season.  Wednesday was a great experience as a fan. I think that Sean came and has a lot of experience that should excite fans of the club. I think that Sean said all of the right things but at the end of the day, talk is cheap and it will all show off the field. But outside of that I think this team shows a lot of potential and that the tactics that Sean brings should bring a very exciting brand of soccer to the circle city. As far as expectations go, I personally find that it’s hard to set high expectations of any Indianapolis sports team but here I go again. I think this team has the ability to stun a lot of teams. I think that the lowest expectation from a lot of fans is atleast a playoff berth. I would second that opinion seeing that the team made it to the playoffs last season and this team looks just as strong if not stronger than the 2023 team. I think that come the preseason games and the first couple weeks of the season expectations will change but as of right now, I think that my expectations start and end at a playoff spot being claimed by the Indy Eleven. 

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