Penn with Indy Eleven in USL Championship play last season / Photo courtesy Indy Eleven
INDIANAPOLIS - Indy Eleven made club history on Tuesday morning as it signed Josh Penn to his first professional contract. A former USL Academy signing and Indiana University standout, Penn becomes the first player to compete for the Eleven as an Academy signing to sign professional terms with the Boys in Blue in the club’s history.
“We said we’d be open to welcoming Josh back when he departed for IU last summer, and we are thrilled he is taking us up on the offer,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We obviously know what he brings to the squad – pace on and off the ball, a willingness to take on defenders, and the ability to finish around the penalty area in various ways. He’s an exciting young player that will certainly provide a boost of energy to the squad for the stretch drive of our 2020 season.”
At the time of his USL Academy Contract signing on February 21, 2019, Penn was the youngest player ever signed by Indiana’s club at the age of 18 years, three months and 27 days – a record since surpassed by most of the club’s eight Academy Contract signings over the last 18 months.
During his first stint with Indy Eleven last season, the native of Naperville, Ill., started two of his five appearances and took a pair of shots in 157 minutes of USL Championship regular season action. Penn impressed during his first career start, nearly notching a goal and assist in the club’s 2019 season opener at Saint Louis FC on March 9.
“I’m excited to be back in a familiar setting that, while different, will provide an even better chance for me to be a part of the team and even more focused on my play this time around,” said Penn. “I planned on playing at IU this fall and hopefully going professional from there, but with the college season being suspended it felt like now was the right time to make the move. I’m really glad it happened this way because Indy Eleven provides a great opportunity for me, so it was a no-brainer and a way to make some good out of a tough situation.”
Penn left the Eleven camp last summer and made an immediate impact with perennial NCAA powerhouse Indiana University, helping a young Hoosiers squad to a 15-3-4 record and the Big Ten Conference’s regular season and postseason titles. Penn’s six goals and 14 points (6G, 2A) were both the second-most for a balanced Hoosiers attack, which he also paced with 42 shots and three game-winning goals across his 22 appearances (21 starts). Penn’s freshman season efforts earned him selections to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Prior to joining Indy, Penn totaled 57 goals and 40 assists in 63 matches for Chicago Sockers FC in U.S. Soccer Development Academy play from 2016-19, twice earning him Central Conference Best XI honors. The former four-star recruit has also performed with the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team, and in his last appearance with the squad netted the final goal in a 4-1 win over Jamaica to finish top of the 2018 U.S. Soccer U-20 Men’s Invitational standings. Penn also embarked on a short training stint overseas with Danish Superliga side Brøndby during his time with Indy Eleven in April 2019.
To learn more about the exciting initiatives in youth development happening as a result of the fast-growing USL Academy platform, visit usl-academy.com/about or search #USLAcademy on social media.