Championship Round-Up: Kelly Joins Indy and Teams Bolster their Offense

USL Championship teams have been busy, bolstering their rosters with some impressive signings but none as big as league-record setter Dane Kelly. The striker will be joining Indy Eleven in 2019, hoping to put his goal-scoring magic to use on a team that has trophy aspirations.

“Dane Kelly is a very dynamic player that provides pace to get in behind opponents, who can stretch a team and who is a big goal-scoring threat,” said Indy head coach Martin Renne. “He is in his prime and in the Jamaican national team squad. He is hungry to succeed, and we look forward to working with him.”

Just how good is Kelly? Since joining the league he has scored 67 goals, a Championship record, with teams such as the Charleston Battery, Swope Park Rangers, Reno 1868 and the Richmond Kickers. On top of that he has scored five times in the playoffs and been selected to the All-League team three times over the past seven seasons.

He is coming off of his least productive season while in Virginia. The striker only made four appearances and scored just one goal. The previous season he scored 16 and played in 28 games.

San Antonio Get Their Striker

Indy isn’t the only team that improved their offense over the past week. San Antonio FC finalized a loan deal with Atlas in Mexico for forward Jair Barraza. The 28-year old has made over 70 appearances for the Liga MX club and also spent significant time on loan in the second division. In recent years it was his 2015-16 campaign that stands out where he scored 14 goals in 38 league appearances.

“I’m thrilled to join this club,” said Barraza. “I’m excited for this opportunity to play abroad, which is something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s a challenge that I will take on while being committed to giving my best every day to achieve our collective and personal goals.”

San Antonio finished last season out of the playoff picture despite many feeling they had a solid team. This season Darren Powell will be feeling the pressure to get the team not just into the playoffs but also into title contention and the Barraza loan is a move in that direction.

Eissele Joins OKC From Sacramento

Christian Eissele has switched Western Conference teams, joining OKC Energy for the 2019 season. He will take his five goals in 2018 to Oklahoma and hope to bring them up as contenders this season. His experience in Finland and Sweden is something that is rare in the USL Championship and could be the veteran knowledge necessary for the team’s efforts this campaign.

“When we played against Sacramento last year, we liked his contributions,” said Energy head coach Steve Cooke. “He can hold the ball up, bring others into the game – really be someone who can occupy defenders. But more importantly, he can get into the box and score goals afterwards. With the pace we think we’ve got in wide areas, we think Christian can be a good player for us in the no. 9 position and someone who adds to the group immensely.”

Photo by Bill Twomey Photography

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