Indy Eleven will make its return to Michael A. Carroll Stadium for the 2021 USL Championship season, where the club spent the early years of its history. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Having advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in 2019, Indy Eleven’s flying start to the 2020 season that saw it win four consecutive games and five of its first six supplied the belief that the side could go one better last year. Instead, a second-half swoon that included three consecutive defeats to rival Louisville City FC and two to Sporting Kansas City II helped the postseason slide away after a final-game defeat to Saint Louis FC.
It’s hard to figure where things went wrong, but regardless the Boys in Blue are going to have plenty of new faces for the 2021 season after a busy offseason in the transfer market. Both leading scorer Tyler Pasher (Houston Dynamo FC) and goalkeeper Evan Newton (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) were sold to Major League Soccer clubs, while potential newcomer Cal Jennings was sold to Los Angeles FC before playing a game for Indy after signing as a free agent earlier in the offseason.
That said, there’s plenty of new talent coming on board, especially to replace Pasher’s absence in attack. Fellow Canadian Jordan Hamilton has produced impressively in previous stints on loan in the Championship from Toronto FC, while Gordon Wild and Manuel Arteaga also look like solid options to join the returning Nick Moon. Another new arrival is defender AJ Cochran, who could team with Karl Ouimette and Neveal Hackshaw to make a solid back three. After last year’s disappointment, things are set up for a positive rebound for Head Coach Martin Rennie’s squad.
Jordan Hamilton, Forward: The Canadian brings experience from both MLS and the Championship
Aboubacar Sissoko, Midfielder: Shone in Canadian Premier League for HFX Wanderers in 2020
AJ Cochran, Defender: Former Championship All-League selection makes way from Phoenix
Manuel Arteaga, Forward: Venezuelan forward has played previously in Copa Libertadores
Tyler Pasher: Transferred to Houston Dynamo FC
Evan Newton: Transferred to Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Conner Antley: Signed with Tampa Bay Rowdies
Tyler Gibson: Signed with Louisville City FC
Canadian striker Jordan Hamilton will be looking to lead Indy Eleven's attack as he joins the club for the 2021 USL Championship season.
Jordan Hamilton, Forward
Looking to replace Tyler Pasher – who notched 21 goals over the past two seasons – Indy brought in another forward from north of the border who could have just as large an impact on their attacking fortunes. Jordan Hamilton never quite found a breakthrough in Major League Soccer, although he did notch 11 goals in more than 50 appearances between Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC. While on loan in the Championship, though, he proved he’s capable at this level. Hamilton recorded eight goals in 10 games in the 2019 season, averaging a tally every 92.4 minutes. Indy will be hoping their new arrival is up there with the Golden Boot contenders.
The Spaniard may now be 35 years old, but his ageless ability to create and defend makes him an ideal fit as the left-sided wing back for Head Coach Martin Rennie’s system. Ayoze has notched 16 assists over Indy’s first three seasons in the Championship and has continued to shine so far in preseason ahead of the new campaign. Ayoze’s ability to create will certainly be welcome for Hamilton, Gordon Wild and Manuel Arteaga as they look to make their mark on Indy’s attack.
Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie will be hoping a revamped roster can help send the club back to the postseason after missing out in the 2020 USL Championship campaign. | Photo courtesy Matt Schlotzhauer / Indy Eleven
Martin Rennie (4th Season)
As strongly as 2020 started for Indy, this offseason must have been a difficult one for Martin Rennie as he tried to piece together where things went wrong during the latter half of the season. With that now in the rear-view mirror, and a reshuffled squad to work with, the expectations at a minimum will be to return to the postseason and to make a run from there.
11.7 Indy Eleven ranked ninth in the Championship with 233 total shots during the 2020 regular season, but third-worst in the league with an 11.7 shot conversion rate. Taking better advantage of the chances the side creates is going to be at the top of the priority list for the Boys in Blue this season.