Indy Eleven Transfer Star Keeper Kristian Nicht to Montreal Impact

Kristian Nicht to Montreal Impact

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

In a shocking move, Indy Eleven have announced the permanent transfer of one of their best players, goalkeeper Kristian Nicht to the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer.

The move is effective immediately as Montreal is in desperate need of an experienced keeper for Wednesday’s second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Club América. Starting keeper Evan Bush is suspended due to yellow-card accumulation.

Permanent moves between the NASL and MLS, in either direction, are a rare occurrence. Usually movement comes when a player’s contract is up or when the teams work out a loan deal. There has been significant interest in MLS from NASL players like Miguel Ibarra, but no one has been willing to come close to Minnesota United’s asking price. The fact that Montreal made this accquistion likely speaks to the uniqueness of their desperate situation and doesn’t indicate the start of a trend.

The move also makes sense for Montreal for another reason. Although they had brought in FC Edmonton keeper John Smits on an emergency loan for the first leg of the CCL final, Nicht spent several weeks with Montreal in the offseason for earlier CCL rounds.

The transfer is much more puzzling from an Indy Eleven perspective. Nicht has played every available minute in competitive matches for the club in its short history, and he’s been one of the top keepers in NASL while doing it. Nicht’s net-minding abilities kept a subpar inaugural season in 2014 from becoming a disastrous one. With a leaky defense in front of him for most his tenure, Nicht’s strong performances are a huge reason why a club like the New York Cosmos have never beaten Indy outright.

The German born keeper was off to a terrific start in the 2015 Spring campaign as well. In four starts, he leads the league with 13 saves and is second best with a 1.00 goals against average.

Nicht’s strong start, and a more composed back line with the addition of Greg Janicki, has helped Indy become one of the few unbeaten teams in the NASL. With six points, Indy are even with both Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale on the Spring season table, but sit fourth after tiebreakers are factored in. Its current position is a tremendous improvement compared to last Spring when the club did not win a single match.

Like most NASL and MLS roster moves, the exact details, financial or otherwise, were not disclosed.

“It is our desire to be a player-friendly club, and we are honoring that by allowing Kristian to join Montreal at this time. This move will provide an incredible opportunity for Kristian, and everyone at Indy Eleven wishes him the best of luck during this tremendous moment in his career,” said Indy Eleven President and General Manager Peter Wilt in a statement announcing the transfer. “I would also like to thank Adam Braz at the Montreal Impact for agreeing to a deal that benefits Kristian, Indy Eleven and Montreal both in the short and long terms.”

The move leaves Indy with two young keepers, with limited professional experience. 22-year-old Keith Cardona is a New York Red Bull Academy product whom prior to joining Indy had a short stint with second division Austrian side, FC Liefering. Jon Dawson, 24, has never played professionally, but made 52 appearances for Butler University.

It’s hard to imagine Peter Wilt and head coach Juergen Sommer tossing the towel in with only six games left for Indy in a wide open Spring title race. Perhaps they have confidence in the young keepers who remain and they’re hoping to focus on using the transfer money to bolster their impotent attack in preparation for the long haul. With Kleberson out in the midfield, the team has scored five goals; a respectable number until you factor in that one was a stoppage time penalty, one was the result of an embarrassingly poor error from an opposing keeper, one was a 45 yard shot on a wing and a prayer, and the other was an own goal.