INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Arguably the best start to the summer for any professional soccer player in the country is happening in Indianapolis.
His story? His work ethic? It fits our city just like Indianapolis Colts star offensive guard Quenton Nelson pummeling linebackers in the open field.
On Saturday, the rest of the United Soccer League was forced to take notice of this once-tall tale. A showdown between the Indy Eleven and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC surged deep into stoppage time deadlocked at nil-nil.
The visiting Eleven’s last chance to steal three points rested on the left foot of 26-year-old Tyler Pasher.
Thankfully for Head Coach Martin Rennie, the ball that comes off Pasher’s left foot is the deadliest in the USL. The ESPN2 broadcast call said it all: “PASSSHHHHHERRR!”
When the ball reached the top, left corner of the back of the goal, Pasher had tallied his seventh game-winning strike since the start of the 2019 season. This stellar shot marked his fourth game-winner after the 80th minute of a match since 2019.
You like “clutch”? Pasher will call and raise you a few more.
“I was actually kind of a little amazed at first, to be honest with you,” Pasher said. “As soon as it left my foot, it was like, is this going top corner?”
“Then it hit the net and I was like, oh, OK!”
Pasher opened the odd 2020 season scorching with an Indy Eleven franchise-record four straight matches with a goal.
Dating back to last season, the 26-year-old has tallied 19 goals.
The Eleven are a remarkable 15-1-2 matches in which Pasher scores.
All three decisions that didn’t result in an Eleven victory, coincidentally, came against Eastern Conference rival Louisville City FC.
“Soccer is a 90-minute chess game, and it’s just a matter of the one move you can make (late),” Pasher said. “I have an incredible team that is keeping us in the game. They say, ”Pash,’ here is an opportunity. Make the most of it.'”
“Luckily, I have been able to do that.”
Before the 2019 season, Pasher’s journey had drifted far from the spotlight he once knew as a youth star in Canada. At 18 years old, a love for soccer almost took a backseat to a much different career path.
“I used to build commercial houses, and I used to throw up a 1,500-square-foot home in about a week,” Pasher said. “I was pretty good at it.”
Building, machine learning, really anything to do with design and math have always interested Pasher. The self-described nerd seriously considered giving building a go full-time. But, these worksites weren’t exactly in South Beach. This was the middle of winter in Ontario.
“When you’re sitting on a roof in minus-30 degree (Celsius) weather (-22 Fahrenheit), you’re just thinking to yourself, man, I would rather be kicking a ball around right now.”
Pasher’s past soccer stops included spending summers with a youth developmental program in New Castle, England; a brief professional stop in Finland; and later gigs with a flurry of clubs on the outskirts of Major League Soccer across the United States. None of his stays have lasted as long as this current honeymoon in Indianapolis.
For a time, Pasher seemed to be a one-and-done wherever he landed.
Now, 15-years after embarking on a professional soccer dream as a 9-year-old in the tiny town of Elmira, Canada, the Pasher finally has a city to call home.
“For some reason, when I got here, I felt a good sense of camaraderie from the whole organization.”
“There is just a lot of dedication to making the team great, and toward making soccer great in Indianapolis.”
The best blueprint for an Indy Eleven Championship in 2020? Tyler Pasher will find a way to draw it up.