Earlier this week it was announced that forward Justin Braun, who is recovering from a severe ankle injury, will be returning for his third season with Indy Eleven. On Thursday a trio of three defenders: Reiner Ferreira, Brad Rusin, and Kevin Venegas signed with the Boys in Blue. Head coach Martin Rennie is making statement and filling a void that was missing last season. All four play defense and each of them are committed to doing the dirty work.
In soccer, the first line of defense are the forwards. Braun, along with his goal scoring ability, is a work horse in closing down space and forces the opposing backline and goalies into difficult situations. Regardless of how well his rehab goes we may not see the old Braun, who scored 7 goals in 14 games, until the middle of this season. When he is in fine form, the Indy Eleven faithful can be reassured that he will be playing on both sides of the ball.
New comer Ferreira played on the left in a back three with the 2017 NASL champions, San Francisco Deltas last season. With Ferreira’s experience it would not surprise me if head coach Martin Rennie creates a center back dynamic with him and Rusin at some point in the season. Of course, that is a way too early prediction as the Eleven have only signed four players.
This year, Rusin will have the distinct honor of playing in front of his fellow Hoosiers. After spending the past two seasons and seeing little playing time with Miami FC because of injuries, Rusin the native of Crown Point, has the height and physicality Indy Eleven will need this year. Both Rusin and Rennie are familiar with one another going back to their days in North Carolina and Vancouver. This familiarity and partnership should help those new to Rennie’s style and settle the final line of defense.
Kevin Venegas will join Indy Eleven after spending that last six years with Minnesota United of the NASL and MLS. Venegas has the speed to push forward, adds another dynamic twist in the attack with his crossing ability, while taking pride defending in 1v1 situations on the right side. Venegas is the type of outside back you need in the modern game and will fill a role that has been historically filled with “Iron Man” type players.
2018 Indy Eleven player count: 4
Justin Braun, forward.
Reiner Ferreira, defender.
Brad Rusin, defender.
Kevin Vennegas, defender.