INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven announced on Tuesday the club had added five USL Academy signings to its First Team roster ahead of the 2023 USL Championship season, with goalkeepers Cayden Crawford and Hayden Vostal, midfielder Diego Sanchez, and forwards Benji Chavarria and Luca Iaccino joining the squad for the upcoming campaign.
An Indianapolis native, Sanchez returns to Indy’s First Team roster for a third campaign in the midfield, while Iaccino (Inverness, Ill.) and Vostal (Geneva, Ill.) are back for their second seasons. Crawford (Columbus, Ohio) and Chavarria (Elkhart, Ind.) will make their debuts on the First Team roster for the Boys in Blue as Academy signings in 2023.
Since 2019, Indy Eleven has signed 19 players to USL Academy contracts, continuing the club’s standing as one of the premier player development destinations in the USL Championship. The five Academy players need not look far for inspiration when it comes to what can come of the experience, as Eleven Academy graduate midfielder Alann Torres will begin his second season as a professional signing with Indiana’s Team, one year after cutting his teeth as a rookie on loan with USL League One side Forward Madison FC in 2022.
“We’re excited to have these five young men bring their skills, energy, and hungry mindsets to our first team,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Mark Lowry. “All of them have been around either the professional team or our Academy teams for a while now, so they know the expectations we have and the way we want to play. We are confident in the quality they bring, know they’ll be ready when their numbers are called, and look forward to continuing to help their development.”
In joining Indy Eleven as USL Academy contract signings all players will retain their NCAA eligibility. Chavarria recently committed to play for Loyola University Chicago starting with the Ramblers’ 2024 season.
Of the three returnees, Sanchez is the lone player to have made his professional debut, which he crossed off the list by coming off the substitute’s bench in last year’s regular season finale at Birmingham Legion FC on Oct. 12. After signing with the squad on the cusp of the 2022 season opener last March Iaccino was ruled out of action for most of the season due to injury, while Vostal was a late-season addition to the first team on Aug. 18.
Both Sanchez and Chavarria were members of the Indy Eleven Academy U19 side that captured the inaugural USL Academy League Playoffs title in December 2021, held at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. – where Indy Eleven will open its 2023 regular season this Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies (7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN+).
Iaccino joined that duo to help the U19 squad lift a second piece of hardware just four months’ time back in the Tampa area last April, when the Boys in Blue captured the first-place trophy in the USL Academy Cup’s Elite Division. Vostal joined those three as a regular contributor in the U19’s run to a second consecutive East Central Division crown in USL Academy League play last year, which ended in a fourth-place finish in the playoffs in December.