INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven announced on Monday the signing of two-time USL Cup-winning forward Ilija Ilić to its roster pending league and federation approval. The former Louisville City FC striker is the Eleven’s first new signing ahead of the 2019 USL Championship season.
“Ilija is a proven winner who is coming off an excellent season,” said Indy Head Coach Martin Rennie. “In 2018, he scored a goal, or created an assist, every 86 minutes, which is a phenomenal return. He’ll bring composure and possession for our team in the final third, as well as excellent leadership in our locker room. I’m sure Ilija will be very popular with our fans and his new teammates.”
Ilić had played his first four professional seasons with Louisville, making 75 appearances in the USL Championship regular season and USL Cup Playoffs for the club while recording 17 goals and 15 assists. The 26-year-old tallied single-season bests of 13 goals and 10 assists in 32 games in the 2018 campaign, helping lead Louisville to its second consecutive USL Cup.
A native of Serbia, Ilić had previously starred in USL League Two for the Ocala Stampede, with whom he was a League Two All-Southern Conference selection in 2014 as the club claimed the Southern Conference Championship. He also had a stellar collegiate career at Division II school Young Harris College in Georgia, where he set the school record for most points in a single season on his way to being named NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 2014.
ABEND JOINS UP WITH STLFC: Saint Louis FC announced it had signed midfielder Guy Abend, pending league and federation approval, for the 2019 USL Championship season. The holding midfielder has made previous stops in the USL Championship with Louisville City FC – with which he claimed the USL Cup in 2017 – and Reno 1868 FC.
“I think Guy will prove to be a great signing for us,” said STLFC Head Coach Anthony Pulis. “He is a very good central midfielder that is effective on both sides of the ball, he’s strong, can battle and scrap when needed, but also possesses the ability to get on the ball and dictate the tempo of the game. He is extremely competitive and has exactly the right type of mentality we want.”
Abend was born in Netanya, Israel but moved to Washington D.C. at an early age where he spent six years before moving back to Israel to play in the Maccabi Netanya F.C. youth system. He signed his first professional contract with Maccabi Netanya F.C. of the Israeli Premier League in 2008 where he made one league appearance before joining Hapoel Rishon LeZion in 2011. Abend made 84 appearances and scored two goals with the Israeli club where he also won the domestic cup in 2012.
The 28-year-old then joined Louisville City FC prior to its inaugural season in 2015 and made 63 appearances for the club in the USL Championship and USL Cup Playoffs. Abend spent the 2018 USL season with Reno 1868 FC where he appeared in 21 matches and tallied one assist, and over the past two seasons has completed 1,727 passes at an accuracy rate of 82.55 percent while winning 170 of 278 duels (61.2 percent).
“I’m extremely happy to join Saint Louis FC,” said Abend. “I’m looking forward to meeting the team, coaching staff and the incredible fans! I can’t wait for the season to start.”
NCFC PICKS UP OPTIONS ON LOMIS, FORTUNE: North Carolina FC announced it had picked up contract options on Dre Fortune and Marios Lomis for the 2019 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval.
Fortune returns to the side for a third season after originally coming through the ranks with the NCFC Youth Academy before making his professional debut with the Rochester Rhinos in 2016, making nine appearances in the USL Championship that season. The 22-year-old midfielder then signed with NCFC in 2017, and last season made 19 appearances and logged 1,058 minutes across all competitions.
The 23-year-old Lomis, meanwhile, tallied eight goals and three assists across all competitions in his first season with NCFC. Prior to joining the team, Lomis spent a graduate year with Creighton after previously competing for VV Noordwijk in the fourth division of the Netherlands – his home country.