#Lexington #USL

9 man Lexington side snatches 3 points to open their Jägermeister Cup campaign

Lexington SC stunned the league by winning their inaugural Jägermeister Cup match 1-0 over Forward Madison on Sunday afternoon in arguably the craziest match in the club’s short history. The win also snapped the club’s 5 match-winless run across all competitions.

The first half of the match was largely quiet for both sides. Still, it did foreshadow what was to come in the 2nd, as both sides were getting physical with one another, with Madison picking up 3 yellow cards on top of 5 fouls. LSC picked up 1 yellow to go along with their 9 fouls, but both sides went into the lockers tied at 0-0 with only 1 shot on target apiece. Lexington’s Amal Knight did make a stellar save to keep the match level in the 24th minute.

The primary thing to note of the 1st half for Lexington was the early exit of Azaad Liadi in the 16th minute with an injury. Liadi had dealt with a minor injury during the preseason and had been slowly working back into the lineup, shining in the last few matches, scoring his 1st goal in green and black in the previous game against Spokane. I suspect that Liadi was taken out of this match as a precaution, as he did appear to limp a little but essentially looked okay as he returned to the bench. Luckily for Lexington, they will have 2 weeks before their next matchup for him to recover, considering they will be down 2 men.

On that note, that brings us to the chaos in the 2nd half, and it wasted no time getting chaotic. In the 53rd minute, Madison’s Devin Boyce tripped and ended up over the top of the ball, leading LSC’s Tate Robertson to awkwardly straddle him before the referee blew his whistle to stop play. Boyce then attempted to stand up, knocking Robertson over before turning around and shoving/falling into Robertson, leading Robertson to retaliate with a kick to Boyce’s groin area. Robertson received a red card for the kick to Boyce, while Boyce received a yellow card for his action. This call stirred up many with the Lexington fanbase but having watched the play a few times, the red card is understandable. However, I am more worried about Robertson’s physical health, as he was run over by the referee when he came over to try and break up the altercation, leading to what appears to be a head injury of some kind for Robertson as he had to be helped off the field by the club’s training staff before receiving the red.

The match began to become really chippy and even more physical than before after the altercation between Boyce and Robertson, with Yankam and the Lexington bench receiving yellow cards for dissent after a hard tackle on Lue Young. Yankam would be the victim of another yellow card on a very questionable “dive” call in the 88th minute when Yankam fell to the ground after trying to make a play on a rebound of the crossbar. Having watched it live on ESPN+ and through the multiple rewatches, I fully believe that Yankam simply tripped after trying to avoid the Madison defender to get to the ball. Not a penalty. Not a foul on Madison. And most definitely not a dive by Yankam. Simply a regular, fast-paced play that has happened millions of times, with play not being affected at all. 

The 2nd red card left Lexington with just 9 men with 2 minutes + 12 minutes of stoppage (from the hydration break + the Robertson v. Boyce situation) to try and play for a tie and take the match to PKs. Or at least that was what everyone thought Lexington was going to do until in the 90+4 minute when Kentucky’s own Kaelon “Flying Fox” Fox rose up in the box off a free kick cross from Jorge Corrales and broke the tie and became the hero alongside Amal Knight on the day. Knight would ensure that the 3 points were Lexington’s when he made a spectacular save in the 90+6 minute to keep the shutout intact, earning him the Badass Moment of the Match honors.

Pulling back, this match could be a turning point for Darren Powell and the Boys in Green. The squad got kicked in the teeth multiple times this match and kept fighting, even when down 2 men in a tied match on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. The squad looked hungry and determined despite the setbacks of losing Liadi early, Roberton’s red, Yankam’s red, and Onen leaving late with a minor injury. My favorite part of the match outside of the goal was Darren Powell huddling with the entire roster and staff, saying in his post-match interview that he wants LSC to be a challenging and resilient squad that can win matches even when they are not at their best. For me, this is the type of match that can shake off all the bad vibes and cobwebs out of players’ minds and truly let them get off to a strong start in cup play (to which they sit tied for 1st in the central with One Knoxville) and hopefully get some momentum over the next 2 cup matches for when they return to league play against Forward Madison in June. 

Via FotMob

However, there are still many questions circling this club. And I do not mean to damper the good vibes. Still, the club will be without 2 key pieces in Robertson and Yankam when Central Valley Fuego comes to town on May 11th (with Robertson potentially missing more matches depending on the severity of his injury). They could be missing Liadi and Onen, depending on how match-ready they are in 2 weeks. So, while the season’s first quarter did not go as planned, Lexington appears to be trendy and in the right direction, with a solid start to the inaugural Jager Cup.


  • Jon Hunt

    Jon Hunt is an avid and enthusiastic soccer podcast host. Originally from the Detroit area, he now resides in central Kentucky. Jon brings passion and his love of soccer history to the Bluegrass Soccer Cast community. His ultimate goal is to continue the growth of soccer in America with a focus of the thriving soccer scene in Kentucky. #ProRelForUSA

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