It’s official! The USL and Indy Eleven (Indy XI) confirmed the original report from Nipun Chopra of SocTakes.com that stated Indianapolis will join the league for the 2018 season.
Formerly of the North American Soccer League (NASL), Indy Eleven will join Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Nashville SC, North Carolina FC and ATL UTD 2 as new additions for the upcoming USL season. These clubs bring the league total to 34 for 2018 (33 pending Orlando City B status).
Founded in 2013, Indy XI is owned by Ersal Ozdemir of the Indianapolis-based Keystone Construction and Keystone Realty Group. “We are excited to begin a new chapter in our club’s history as we join the USL for the 2018 season,” said Ozdemir in a league press release. “The USL’s remarkable growth on and off the field over recent seasons has been impressive to observe. We look forward to helping the league continue that positive momentum as its visibility continues to rise both in the United States and around the world.”
The Eleven were originally led by veteran soccer executive and guest of the CST podcast Peter Wilt. Wilt quickly built Indy into an attendance powerhouse that saw the club average 10,465 fans in their first year. In 2016 the club would set their best record (15W-10D-7L) on their way to a runner-up finish in the NASL’s Soccer Bowl. Their recent 2017 season saw a dip in form with Indy falling to 6th place, but the fans still supported the club averaging a league-high 8,395 fans.
FC Cincinnati is no stranger to the Indy XI as they defeated their U-23 squad in a 2016 US Open Cup match & have played each other in pre-season matches. The clubs have also seen themselves compete off the field as both ownership groups applied to join Major League Soccer in early 2017.
It was thought that this move to USL may be imminent with NASL’s uncertainty and the close proximity of regional rival cities Louisville and Cincinnati. All three cities will now have an extra close road trip with the addition of Indy approx. 2 hours from each. All indications show that all three fan bases are in favor of the move and cannot wait to travel to away fixtures. Indy’s former closest opponents while in the NASL was current MLS club Minnesota United (9 hours) and new USL side North Carolina FC (9 1/2 hours).
In Chopra’s article, it was said that Indy would play their 2018 in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. The press release did not make any mention of a stadium, so it remains to be seen whether the XI will play at the home of the Colts or if they remain in IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.
We welcome Indy Eleven into the league and hope that the relationship between FC Cincinnati and Indy XI can blossom into a great regional rivalry.
@bryanweigel for @CincySoccerTalk
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