The Charleston Battery announced Thursday the signing of defender AJ Cochran to the 2023 roster, pending league and federation approval. The 2019 USL Championship All-League Second Team selection played the previous two seasons for Indy Eleven.
Cochran brings a wealth of experience from tenures with MLS side Houston Dynamo FC and USLC clubs Saint Louis FC, Atlanta United 2, Phoenix Rising FC and Indy. Cochran also spent a brief loan spell with the Battery in 2015.
“I’m most excited about meeting my new Charleston teammates and coaching staff, then going out onto the field and competing,” said Cochran. “My first preseason as a pro, I got to spend it in Charleston with the Dynamo. I remember falling in love with the city and, ever since then, I always loved coming back to play in Charleston.”
Cochran featured in 48 matches across all competitions for Indy from 2021 to 2022. His 156 clearances and 40 blocks were the most totaled by any Indy player across those two seasons. Cochran captained the team during the first half of the 2022 campaign and his lone goal in the year came against the Battery in October.
A 6-3 center-back, Cochran isn’t afraid to make his presence felt and is skilled at winning the ball on the ground and in the air.
Head Coach Ben Pirmann is delighted to have Cochran join the squad.
“AJ is a very experienced central defender, he’s physical and exceptional in the air,” said Coach Pirmann. “He wins his duels and has a massive presence at the back. AJ is not only a good player, but he is a top teammate and citizen, too. He’ll help us on the pitch with his footballing attributes and we’re also excited to welcome him into our community.”
Cochran’s professional career began when he was drafted 16th overall by Houston Dynamo FC in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, making 19 MLS appearances during his rookie season. Later that same year, he made his debut for the United States U-23 national team. While playing for Houston in 2015, Cochran joined the Battery on loan for two matches.
“When I came here in 2015, I remember all of the guys and fans being super welcoming,” said Cochran. “I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to play a game at home for the Battery because we were in New York and Montreal for those two games, but that’ll change here shortly.”
After departing Houston, Cochran would develop into one of the top defenders in the USL, initially signing with Saint Louis FC in 2016 and later playing for Atlanta United 2. Cochran won the 2019 regular season title and was subsequently named to the All-League Second Team with Phoenix Rising FC. He then led Phoenix to the USL Championship Final after claiming the Western Conference title in 2020.
Cochran enjoyed a successful three-year college career at the University of Wisconsin before turning pro. His honors included two First-Team All-Big Ten nods, the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and a 2013 First-Team All-America selection.
AJ is looking forward to bringing his game back to the Lowcountry.
“March 11 can’t come fast enough,” said Cochran. “I’m super excited to meet the Battery fans and show them the type of person and player I am, on and off the pitch.”
Goalkeepers: Daniel Kuzemka, Trey Muse
Defenders: Leland Archer, AJ Cochran, Derek Dodson, Benji Ettienne, Juan Sebastián Palma, AJ Paterson, Deklan Wynne
Midfielders: Chris Allan, Fidel Barajas, Andrew Booth, Handwalla Bwana, Robbie Crawford, Avionne Flanagan, Joe Schmidt, Emilio Ycaza
Forwards: Aidan Apodaca, Tristan Trager, Augustine Williams