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Kyle Hyland becomes first IUPUI student-athlete to ink MLS deal

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis soccer standout Kyle Hyland signed a deal with the Columbus Crew on Wednesday (Feb. 27), becoming the first player in school history to earn a spot on a Major League Soccer team roster. Hyland led The Summit League with eight goals this past season and was later voted Second Team National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire All-Region.

Hyland, a 5-foot-7 defender/midfielder, earned his roster spot through a tryout in Bradenton, Fla. and is a homegrown product of the Columbus Crew, based in Columbus, Ohio. Hyland, from Bay Village, Ohio, played for the Crew Juniors Academy program, helping his squad to the 2010 United Soccer League Super-20 and McGuire Cup titles.

Hyland was originally targeted by Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss, who helped him gain a spot in preseason camp.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Hyland said by phone, following a Crew photo shoot. “It’s nice to know all my hard work has paid off. It’s tough being the new guy, but it’s nice all the veterans take you in pretty quickly and make you feel at home. The (tryout) process was definitely stressful.

“I tried to show a lot of work ethic and show some toughness. On offense, I tried to keep it as simple as possible, keep possession of the ball and get it to the vets.”

“Kyle’s being the first MLS player (from IUPUI) is a true definition of hard work, persistence and not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” IUPUI Head Coach Isang Jacob said. “Every credit goes to Kyle. Kyle made this happen for Kyle.

“Any young player that wants to play at the highest level need look no further than Kyle. He had a great year last year and this is a huge success to our conference and to our university. It was a great pleasure coaching Kyle and I know fully well he’s going to do the right things and be a great pro for many years to come.”

Hyland is a senior pursuing a degree in exercise science/pre-physical therapy in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI.

Hyland appeared in 72 matches during his four years at IUPUI, making 69 starts. He closed his collegiate career with 10 goals and 10 assists and was a two-time All-Summit League performer. In 2012, the left-footed Hyland had a pair of multi-goal games and netted three game-winners from an attacking position, but the Crew projects him as a left back in the defensive third.

“They think it’s very rare to find a left-footed left back,” Hyland said. “They think I can come in and challenge for a starting spot in due time. Not right away, but they think I can progress and eventually fill that role.”

Hyland is the fifth player from the Summit League to make an MLS regular season roster.

The Crew will open the 2013 regular season on Saturday, March 2 when they take on Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.