Editor's note: This just in from Indy Eleven ...
Indy Eleven has secured another veteran presence to build its budding roster around, today announcing the signing of Honduran defender Erick Norales to a contract with the expansion North American Soccer League side.
Norales was officially introduced to fans and media by Indy Eleven President/General Manager Peter Wilt and Director of Soccer Operations/Head Coach Juergen Sommer this afternoon during a presentation at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
"I am very happy for the opportunity that Indy Eleven has given me and for the trust they have put in me," said Norales. "I am looking forward to helping Indy Eleven make a name in the soccer world. Within a few hours the staff has treated like I've been here for a long time and made my family very welcome, which is the most important thing to me."
The 28-year-old Norales comes to the Hoosier State with a dozen years of professional experience, most of which was spent in his native Honduras between Liga Nacional (First Division) clubs C.D. Vida (2002-2006, 2013) and powerhouse side Marathon (2006-2011, 2013). During his first stint with Marathon, the 5'11" center back helped El Monstruo Verde to three consecutive Apertura (Opening) season crowns and participated in all three of the team's runs into the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League, the premier regional club competition for teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Norales spent the 2012 season with Chinese club Hunan Billows, part of a three-man Honduran contingent that traveled across the Pacific to play for the second division squad.
"The Indy Eleven organization couldn't be happier to welcome Erick Norales to Indiana," Wilt said. "Our international player signings are limited, and we have to make sure we get these decisions right. With Erick's tremendous ability and his commitment to build Indy Eleven into a championship-caliber club, we know we made a valuable addition by bringing him on board."
Norales also brings plenty of international experience in tow to the Hoosier State, having amassed 29 career appearances ("caps") for the Honduran National Team between 2007-2011. Norales' resume with the Catrachos includes appearances in a pair of CONCACAF region World Cup Qualifying contests in the build up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a five-game stint during Honduras' run to the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals and a starting role for the nation's Under-23 National Team at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Norales comes to Indiana with his wife, Patricia, and their young son, Erick. The signing of Norales comes after two recent scouting trips to Central America by Sommer, who met with and saw the center back in action on numerous occasions for C.D. Vida over the last six weeks.
"Erick Norales has the athleticism, skill and experience to be an impact player in the NASL from day one," Sommer explained. "With his championship pedigree and big-game experience, we look forward to the leadership and steadying influence he can supply both on the field and in the locker room."
With today's announcement, Norales officially becomes the fourth player on the Indy Eleven roster, joining goalkeepers Kristian Nicht and Nathan Sprenkel and defender Baba Omosegbon. More player signings are expected to be announced in the coming weeks as Indy Eleven builds towards its first preseason in February 2014.
About Indy Eleven
Born Indy Pro Soccer after launching as the 11th member of the North American Soccer League January 16, 2013, Indy Eleven established its permanent identity 99 days later on the 152nd anniversary of the establishment of the 11th Indiana Regiment during the Civil War on April 25, 1861. The NASL is the officially-sanctioned Second Division of professional soccer in the United States and Canada. NASL member teams include current participants Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, New York Cosmos, Minnesota United FC, San Antonio Scorpions FC and the 2012 champion Tampa Bay Rowdies. Expansion teams Ottawa Fury FC (2014), Virginia Cavalry FC (2014), Oklahoma City (2015) and Jacksonville (2015) will join alongside Indy Eleven in the coming seasons. Indy Eleven will kick off its inaugural season in early April 2014 and will play its matches at Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis.