After reports indicated that the club was on the verge of changing leagues, Indy Eleven has officially announced its move from the NASL to the USL.The change is effective for the 2018 season.
There have been questions about the NASL’s future since September, when the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) announced that the circuit would not retain its Division II status for the 2018 season. A previous request for a preliminary injunction to retain Divison II status was denied in November, but the league has since appealed and is awaiting a ruling.
Meanwhile, recent reports indicated that Indy Eleven could shift to the Division II USL for 2018, and that move was made official with Wednesday’s announcement. Indy has been a success on the attendance front during its history, averaging 9,170 fans per game across the past four seasons in the NASL.
“We are excited to begin a new chapter in our club’s history as we join the USL for the 2018 season,” Indy Eleven Owner Ersal Ozdemir said in a statement. “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.”
With this announcement, Indy becomes the second club since the conclusion of the 2017 season to jump from the NASL to the USL, joining North Carolina FC, which announced its move to the USL in November. The USL is also adding expansion clubs Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Nashville SC, and Atlanta United 2 for 2018.
“Today, we are delighted to announce the addition of another tremendous organization to the USL,” USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “The work that has been done by owner Ersal Ozdemir and President Jeff Belskus to establish the Indy Eleven in the heartland of America has been incredibly impressive, as has the club’s commitment to its fans and local community. Indy Eleven brings all of the qualities that make a club successful in the USL and will add tremendously to the league’s rivalries in the region.”
One thing that is not expected to change in the immediate future for Indy Eleven is its home venue. While reports had indicated that the club was exploring the use of Lucas Oil Stadium–home to the NFL’s Colts–it plans to remain at Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium for now, though it is considering other options. More from The Indianapolis Star:
Despite a report that the Eleven could play at Lucas Oil Stadium, the team, for now, plans to remain at Carroll Stadium on IUPUI’s campus. Belskus said they’re asking around the city and “exploring other options,” but has no timetable for picking somewhere new. Efforts to build a publicly-funded stadium have previously failed.
For the NASL, this marks the latest loss from its slate of eight teams in 2017. While both Indy and North Carolina are heading to the USL, the San Francisco Deltas have folded and FC Edmonton has shut down operations for 2018. In addition, a 2019 launch appears to be an option for expansion 1904 FC in San Diego, which has been to begin play in 2018.
Image courtesy Indy Eleven.
RELATED STORIES: Indy Eleven Reportedly Mulling League Change, Lucas Oil Stadium Games; NASL Moves to International Soccer Calendar; Best of 2017, #2: Trials and Tribulations of NASL; NASL Appeal to be Heard Friday; Miami FC in Limbo as Decision on NASL Awaits; Bad News for NASL: Deltas, FC Edmonton Close Shop; North Carolina FC Departs NASL for USL; San Francisco Deltas Uncertain for 2018; NASL to Appeal Legal Defeat on 2018 Division II Status; NASL Lawsuit Fails to Retain Division II Status for 2018; NASL Preliminary Injunction Hearing Set for Tuesday; NASL Lawsuit Alleges That SUM Tried to Shut Down Cosmos; Commisso Blasts US Soccer’s Gulati, Calls for Resignation; NASL Calls for Preliminary Injunction to Survive; NASL Lawsuit Challenges US Soccer Over Loss of Division II Status; USSF Will Not Extend NASL’s Division II Status into 2018