For the second year in a row, The University of Indianapolis Men’s Soccer team is playing Indy Eleven, the American professional men’s soccer team in Indianapolis, on Feb. 29. In preparation, the team added Chicago Fire Football Club to their spring schedule Head Men’s Soccer Coach John Higgins said.
According to Higgins, Chicago Fire FC is a youth professional team. Many kids on the team have already committed to play Division 1 soccer in conferences like the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 10 or have even signed with Indy Eleven. This game will be great preparation for the game against Indy Eleven Higgins said.
“I think we did a really nice job against them [Indy Eleven] last time, I think that they think they’re going to get a team that is pretty well organized,” Higgins said. “They’re going to get a team that poses them some different challenges from a pure tactical standpoint.”
After last year’s game sophomore forward Alejandro Steinwascher took away information that will need to be applied to the upcoming game in order to beat Indy Eleven.
“They will definitely out possess us, we’re going to defend a lot. It’s going to be hard for us to get the ball and keep it and trying to score is going to be hard,” Steinwascher said. “We’re only going to get one or two chances and we’re going to have to try and score on one of those”
To prepare for this year’s game Higgins said that the team has been watching film from last year and going to Indy Eleven’s practices to watch. Higgins said he believes that having the game so early in the spring has given the team something to work toward this off season.
Steinwascher said he thinks that playing professional teams are beneficial for the team and program.
“I hope that this is something that the program continues to do, because I think that it helps the program out a lot,” Steinwascher said. “Usually, the GLVC teams we play, we tend to dominate games and once we get later in the season, we start to play teams that are if not the same or better than us. It’s good to play two teams that are better than us, so we have this experience when it comes later in the fall.”
Higgins said he agrees that it’s beneficial for postseason play, but also in terms of recruitment and program development.
“It’s a way for us to advance our program, in terms of growing our reputation because when it’s out there that Indy Eleven is playing UIndy that means something,” Higgins said.
Higgins said that he believes many players on Chicago Fire FC may not even look at UIndy during the recruiting process. But, playing against them will show the players on the team that UIndy has a good program, according to Higgins.
Steinwascher said he thinks that the games are exciting, however, he does feel pressure once he steps out onto the field.
“Right now, it’s a cool experience to say ‘I’m playing a professional team’ and it’s fun, but once it gets in game, then there’s a lot of pressure there,” Steinwascher said. “You’re in the moment and you got to focus on scoring when it’s your time or defending or blocking shots.”
These upcoming games add pressure to the team and get them out of their comfort zone, according to Higgins.
“It’s good for our guys to be put in those uncomfortable positions, you look at the spring and really we play for nothing,” Higgins said. “We try to get as many good games as possible. We try to play DI’s and pro teams just to make our guys uncomfortable. Almost to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”