“They’d aimed for years to bring a pro team back to Indy. They got their wish.” In The Indianapolis Star, Zak Keefer talks to the passionate fans supporting Indy Pro Soccer and considers the prospects for a team with a “firm base”:

Their Saturday morning religion requires them to rise early. The pub is cramped yet cozy, home to dark English ales, nervous chatter and colorful scarves. It is here they gather each week to watch the world’s game.

It is shy of 9 a.m. on America’s customary day to sleep in. Dozens of soccer die-hards shuffle into Chatham Tap on Massachusetts Avenue for the week’s signature match, the collective anticipation akin to something you’d expect to find in Manchester, England, but not Central Indiana.

The game begins. They chant. They shout. They drink. They rejoice and agonize over a contest that takes place 3,800 miles away. Inside these walls, for a few early hours every Saturday, the heart of soccer in Indianapolis beats strong.

They returned to their favorite bar Wednesday night, but not to watch Manchester United or Liverpool or Chelsea. This was a special occasion. There was much to celebrate.

Hours earlier, their city had been officially awarded the 12th franchise of the North American Soccer League, one step below Major League Soccer. For the first time in a decade, pro soccer will return to Indianapolis in 2014.

“This is a hotbed for the game,” declared Myron Vaughn, a varsity coach at Westfield High School the past 11 years and a former player for the city’s last men’s pro soccer team, the Indiana Blast. “There’s a ton of good players. There’s a ton of good fans. There’s a ton of passion.”

Vaughn often spends his Saturday mornings tending bar at Chatham, pouring those dark English ales to Indy’s soccer fanatics. On Wednesday he joined in, reveling in the city’s pro soccer rebirth. During the announcement, those very fans — many of whom belong to a group called the Brickyard Battalion — shouted and chanted and cheered like it was a Saturday morning, their team leading in the 89th minute.

They’d aimed for years to bring a pro team back to Indy. They got their wish.

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