Soccer took a huge step in the Midwest on Wednesday with the announcement that Indy Eleven is making the jump to the United Soccer League.
The USL is recognized as a second division league below top-tier Major League Soccer. Indy Eleven previously played in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
The NASL has been in peril and struggling to secure financial stability. With teams leaving or folding, the foundation became increasingly unsteady for the league.
The 2017 NASL Champion San Francisco Delta folded citing a lack of sustainability and "continuous uncertainty" around the league. Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir remained committed to the City of Indianapolis and wants to maintain a quality product on-and-off the pitch.
Ozdemir founded Indy Eleven in 2013 and his club has maintained a steady fan base averaging 9,170 fans per game across their four seasons. Those figures make it one of the strongest clubs in the lower divisions of North America.
“We are excited to begin a new chapter in our club’s history as we join the USL for the 2018 season,” said the Indy Eleven Owner in a press release this week. “The USL’s remarkable growth on and off the field the past few years has gotten the attention of soccer fans everywhere. We look forward to helping the league continue this momentum as its visibility continues to rise both in the United States and around the world.”
The move to USL will provide great regional rivalries for Indy Eleven as they will see Louisville City FC, and FC Cincinnati.
Indy Eleven has great ownership, stellar regional rivalries, and die hard fans. This will be a winning equation for an ambitious owner and committed city.
Indy Eleven welcome FC Cincinnati to Carroll Stadium on March 31st for its home opener.
Here was my trip to Carroll Stadium last summer: