There was plenty of optimism around Indy Eleven at the start of the 2021 season, and an early victory against Louisville City FC – breaking an extensive winless streak in the LIPAFC – felt like a notable moment. Eight games into the season, however, Head Coach Martin Rennie departed with the side 3-4-1 and things never properly got back on track as the Boys in Blue missed out on a postseason berth for a second consecutive season.
Indy went big in filling its head coaching position this offseason, inking former El Paso Locomotive FC Head Coach and 2021 Championship Coach of the Year Finalist Mark Lowry as its new boss. Lowry’s success in El Paso and at prior stops has made him one of the brightest young coaches in North American currently, and the expectation will be his arrival helps vault Indy back to the heights it reached in 2019, when the side advance to the Eastern Conference Final in the postseason.
Lowry has brought some trusted lieutenants with him from El Paso in defender Mechack Jerome and midfielder Bryam Rebellon, and there are some key holdovers from last season led by forward Manuel Arteaga and defenders Karl Ouimette and Neveal Hackshaw. The side has also been aggressive in free agency, acquiring Hackshaw’s Trinidad and Tobago teammate and 2019 title-winner Noah Powder and veteran forward Stefano Pinho. How it all comes together is going to be worth watching, with Indy’s vocal support eager to back a winner.
Mechack Jerome – Haiti international makes move across country with Mark Lowry from El Paso
Noah Powder – Trinidad & Tobago international signed, won Championship Final in 2019 with Real Monarchs SLC
Stefano Pinho – Veteran forward will look to boost Indy’s attacking for with Manuel Arteaga
Jonas Fjeldberg – Norwegian winger shone in stint on loan with Rio Grande Valley a season ago
Nick Moon – Wing back signed as free agent with San Diego Loyal SC
Rece Buckmaster – Defender returned to Memphis 901 FC after one season in Indy
Gerson Koffie – Veteran midfielder departed as free agent
Peter-Lee Vassell – Jamaican international made move to Hartford Athletic as free agent
Neveal Hackshaw, Defender
The 2021 season was a disappointing one for Indy Eleven overall, but at the heart of the club’s defense, Neveal Hackshaw continued to show why he’s become one of the most respected left-sided defenders in the league. The Trinidad and Tobago international was the most consistent performer for the Boys in Blue over the campaign, registering a +0.97 Goals Added Above Average mark for the season, comfortably the highest on the team. Hackshaw’s versatility and quality will make him a valuable piece for new Head Coach Mark Lowry as Indy seeks a drive back up the Eastern Conference standings this season.
Manuel Arteaga, Forward
The central issue for Indy in the 2021 season was a lack of finishing in the final third, with the side only recording 32 goals in 32 games in the regular season. The lone bright spot was Manuel Arteaga, who recorded 10 goals and two assists in his first season at the club, effectively matching his Expected Goals and Assists marks over the campaign. With the potential for more creativity in the final third, the Venezuelan forward could find himself higher up in the race for the Golden Boot this season. If he is, then Indy should be back in a major way in the battle for the postseason.
Mark Lowry (1st Season)
Mark Lowry’s offseason move from El Paso Locomotive FC to Indy Eleven was maybe the most notable coaching change of this offseason in the USL Championship, bringing the bright young English coach to an Indy club looking to return to the league’s elite. Lowry’s track record is impeccable, and he enters having been nominated for the Championship’s Coach of the Year a season ago. Indy will be hoping the success he achieved in Texas can be quickly replicated in the Circle City.
168 Indy Eleven conceded 168 shots on target a season ago, tied for the fourth-highest total in the USL Championship. By contrast, Mark Lowry’s former club El Paso Locomotive only allowed 101, a total the Boys in Blue will be hoping to come closer to this campaign as they try to tighten up defensively.