TAMPA, Fla. – The North American Soccer League lost another team Wednesday as the United Soccer League announced that Indy Eleven will play in its league for the 2018 season.
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.
The team’s departure left the NASL with six club — the Cosmos, Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada and Puerto Rico FC as four returning sides — California United FC and San Diego 1904 FC as expansion teams.
The NASL’s future is in limbo. It is awaiting a decision on its appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The league wants to obtain a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Soccer Federation that rescinded its Division II status.
The Indianapolis team has averaged 9,170 per game over the past four seasons, making it one of the strongest lower-division clubs in North America since its inception.
Guided by a local ownership group led by Ersal Ozdemir, Indy Eleven will join two other USL teams in its region — 2017 USL Cup-winner Louisville City FC and FC Cincinnati.
“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.”
Indy lost to the Cosmos in via penalty kicks in the NASL’s The Championship final in 2016.
“We are excited to begin a new chapter in our club’s history as we join the USL for the 2018 season,” Ozdemir said in a statement. “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.”