Sports » Sports + Recreation

Indy Eleven continues local/global balance


Indy Eleven on Indiana Day at City Market. - COURTESY OF INDY ELEVEN
  • Courtesy of Indy Eleven
  • Indy Eleven on Indiana Day at City Market.

Indy Eleven added four new players to its inaugural squad Wednesday, continuing the trend of mixing international experience and flavor with Midwestern strength and grit.

The new players are: Brazilian-born forward Pedro Mendes, who earned the North American Soccer League's "Goal of the Season Award" in 2013; Jamaican-born midfielder/forward Don Smart, celebrated by Coach Juergen Sommer for his "athleticism and versatility"; and former IUPUI defenders Kyle Hyland, who played last season with the Columbus Crew, and Chris Wey, a middle school teacher and coach at Avon-based Westside United FC.

"The addition of these four players encapsulates the vision of how we want to build the Indy Eleven roster," Indy Eleven President and GM Peter Wilt said. "This quartet adds a little bit of everything - international players with attacking flair, experience within American soccer circles and talents with local ties that proved their worth through the trial process."

The announcements came at a "Build the Brickhouse" fan-building celebration Wednesday night at City Market, which doubled as commemoration of "Indiana Day," the state's 197th birthday. The Brickyard Battalion and its affiliated supporters' clubs have thousands of members who are looking forward to drumming up support for the team from their special section behind the west-end goal box at Carroll Stadium at IUPUI, where the team will play its first home game.

Clubs activities to date have included covered a lot of territory. Among current pushes: A callout to write get-well cards to Jacob Quackenbush, a sophomore at Brown County High School, who suffered a massive heat stroke while at soccer practice last summer and who is still in the hospital. In addition, fans plan to stoke their creative spirits from noon-4 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 14, at a "TIFO" fan art workshop sponsored by the Slaughterhouse 19 supporters' club at the Hoosier Dome in Fountain Square.

The team also announced that more than half of Indy Eleven's regular season matches in 2014 will be broadcast on MyINDY-TV 23. More player announcements will come in the new year as the team prepares for preseason camp in February.

Here's some more information on the new players compiled by John Koluder, Indy Eleven's communications captain:

  • Phil Taylor/Phototaylor
  • Forward Pedro Mendes

Pedro Mendes - Forward

The addition of forward Pedro Mendes gives Indy Eleven its first player with NASL experience, as the Brazilian-born striker spent the last year-and-a-half with 2013 Soccer Bowl runner-up Atlanta Silverbacks. Mendes' eight goals across his team-high 25 appearances during the recently-concluded 2013 season placed him tied for seventh on the NASL's scoring chart, and one of those goals - a 35-yard dipping finish against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on April 20 - earned the striker the league's Goal of the Season Award via a fan vote following the season.

The 23-year-old striker joined Atlanta following stints in 2012 with the National Premier Soccer League's Rhode Island Reds and United State Adult Soccer Association squad Cal FC, the latter which he helped to upset wins over professional teams Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO) and Portland Timbers (Major League Soccer) during its run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup's Round of 16.

Pedro Mendes: "I'm excited to be part of this new organization that the people of Indiana have wanted for so long. I am looking forward to be a part of this new team and striving to win the league when we hit the field in the spring."

Juergen Sommer: "After watching Pedro play in person this past season we expect him to bring valuable experience into the mix, even for a player at his relatively young age. His athleticism, size and mobility will be tremendous assets as we build our attacking system, one in which he'll be an integral part of. Pedro has a ton of upside and maturity for his age, which we can certainly benefit from both in the short and long terms."

  • Phil Taylor/Phototaylor
  • Defender Kyle Hyland

Kyle Hyland - Defender

After getting his toes wet in the professional ranks in 2013 with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, defender Kyle Hyland returns to the Circle City, where he spent four seasons with the IUPUI Jaguars. While the Cleveland native did not see any first team minutes for the Crew last season, Hyland did make 11 appearances (nine starts) with the Columbus Crew Reserves, primarily at left back, which is where he's also projected to see the field for Indy Eleven next season.

Kyle Hyland: "I'm extremely excited to return to Indianapolis, a place where winning is expected from both the organization and the fans. I can't wait to represent Indy Eleven in its inaugural year, and everyone can expect that I will do whatever it takes on and off the field to make this a successful year for soccer in Indianapolis."

Juergen Sommer: "We're excited to bring Kyle back to Indianapolis, where he played some standout seasons with IUPUI. Kyle is a young, dynamic player that was highly regarded by Brian Bliss and Mike Lapper over at the Columbus Crew in recent months, and he confirmed everything that was said about him during our scrimmage against their Reserves side last month. Kyle brings a high level of professionalism, tons of energy and a tenacious presence that is important as a defender - as a former goalkeeper, he's the type of guy you want in front of you."

Midfielder/Forward Don Smart - PHIL TAYLOR/PHOTOTAYLOR
  • Phil Taylor/Phototaylor
  • Midfielder/Forward Don Smart

Don Smart - Midfielder/Forward

Attacking presence Don Smart comes to Indy Eleven following a brief run with Virginia-based club RVA FC of the NPSL, which came on the heels of stints with the Fredericksburg Gunners (Premier Development League) in 2012 and FC New York (USL PRO) in 2011. The Jamaican-born Smart is expected to line up on either wide side of the Indy Eleven midfield, but can also be comfortably deployed as a striker or outside back.

Don Smart: "I'm excited to get the chance to show my talents in front of the soccer fans of Indiana, and very grateful for the opportunity that the Indy Eleven coaches and staff have afforded me. I can't wait to get started and am looking forward to helping the team and community win a championship. While winning a title is going to be hard work, nothing is impossible and I believe we'll be up to the challenge next season."

Juergen Sommer: "We got a look at Don during one of our fall mini-camps and really liked what we saw from him in a short period. Don's athleticism and versatility will allow us to use him nearly anywhere on the field. With that said, his pace, ability to run at people with the ball and a lively shot will make him most effective as an outside player that can provide strong support in attack. Off the field he's a lively, easy-going personality that will bring a lot of character and positive energy into our locker room."

  • Phil Taylor/Phototaylor
  • Defender Chris Wey

Chris Wey - Defender

From the classroom to the locker room comes Chicago-born and Munster, IN-bred Chris Wey, a current middle school teacher and coach at Avon-based Westside United FC who rekindled his professional soccer career thanks to impressive showings at Indy Eleven's tryouts earlier this summer. After a four-year career at IUPUI from 2004-07, which included placements on the Mid-Con (2005) and Summit League (2007) All-Conference Second Teams, the defender also spent time with FC Indiana of the NPSL (2009) and the Premier Arena Soccer League's Indy Elite (2012) in recent years while mainly focusing on his coaching roles with Westside United.

Chris Wey: "For the last ten years I have considered Indianapolis my true home. Representing Indy Eleven as a hometown product brings a feelings of pride and accomplishment, and a greater meaning to the word family. The opportunity that Indy Eleven has provided to hometown players like myself, Baba [Omosegbon] and Nathan [Sprenkel] will go a long way in giving very realistic hopes to and paving a path for young soccer players in the Indianapolis area."

Juergen Sommer: "Chris Wey is a hard-working, industrious defender that was a true 'diamond in the rough' during the tryout process. His best fit for Indy Eleven will be at outside back, but Chris' versatility could also allow him to push up into midfield. With his character and work ethic, Chris will be committed to doing great things, especially with the pride he'll take in representing Indianapolis. His leadership qualities and maturity will be huge pluses for the club, as he'll be a tone-setter for the squad every day in training and is the type of guy that can hold people's feet to the fire. We're excited to see Chris get what we expect to be a solid career up and running with us beginning in the spring."

Disclaimer: Readers please be aware that this reporter is a rabid soccer fan, an Indy Eleven season ticket holder and overall club supporter. She appreciates the indulgence on this particular subject as loving Indy Eleven and wanting nothing more than its total success is as natural as her Hoosier roots. If a reporter's job is to report the truth, this is the truth: This reporter wants Indy Eleven to kick ass, to win the NASL Soccer Bowl, to beat any MLS team it may have the opportunity to play and dominate any international matches in which it appears.


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