Lexington hopeful for some California Dreamin’

Lexington SC travels out to Fresno, California, this Saturday at 10 pm EST/9 pm CST to take on Central Valley Fuego FC in their first-ever matchup, and both teams are hungry for a win. Both sides come into this matchup with losing streaks they want to end immediately, as Fuego have lost five straight matches, with Lexington on their losing streak of three.

For Lexington, this is a must-win game if they want to keep themselves in the hunt for the playoffs as they enter into the second half of the season 10th in the table, 8 points outside of the 6th-placed playoff spot. Many are optimistic that Lexington can pull off the victory. They looked very promising in their 2-1 defeat against Charlotte this past Sunday, bouncing back from the black eye that Tormenta left them at home the previous weekend. What many fans and pundits are wondering going into the Fuego matchup on Saturday is what starting eleven we will see from Coach Sam Stockley, as it saw a significant shake-up for the first time in a while for the Charlotte game with Martinez, Mohammed, Balogun, SoSo, and Dlamini all returning or making their first starts of the season over consistent starters of Robertson, Murillo Jr., Machell, and James. Lexington’s road pains (0 wins – 2 draws – 6 losses) will need to end soon, and Fuego looks to make for the perfect opponent to start their change of fortune on the road.

For the match, Lexington will need to keep up the consistent attack and shots they created against Charlotte, but do not expect a barnburner in Fresno on Saturday night; Lexington fans, while Fuego has a very lackluster defensively, they have not let the floodgates open up on their goal either, conceding five fewer goals (23) to Lexington’s 28 goals conceded. (Yes, the Tormenta game still counts, it was not just a bad nightmare for Lexington fans.) Coach Stockley will need to get his boys to start creating more big chances and not just peppering the goal with shots, as they only had one big chance in the entirety of the Charlotte match even though they let off 16 shots – this could have been the result of missing arguably their best playmaker in Robertson (leads the team in assists with 4) and the presence of their captain Machell in the midfield, both of whom where subbed on in the 2nd half against Charlotte.

Fuego is desperate to get out of the USL1 basement and even more desperate to get a win at home, something they have accomplished only once so far this season with a record of 1 win – 0 draws – 6 losses in Fresno State Soccer Stadium. Additionally, they are just as desperate to score some goals as they have scored just one goal over their last five matches. On a positive note, Fuego’s previous two wins have been against two out of the three clubs that Lexington have fallen to on their current losing streak – beating Torment 3-2 for that sole win at home back on May 20th and stunning the Flamingos on the road 2-1 on June 3rd. Fuego’s defense and goalkeeping has kept them in games, but their offense needs to wake up if they want to start escaping matches with points again.

For the match, Fuego must find some attacking magic to get Lexington on their back heels like Tormenta and Charlotte made them do. Their defense will need to keep up the hero performance that they have been putting in over the last five matches for them to come away with points for the second time ever at home. Alexis Cerritos and Zahir Vazquez will need to be on their A-game if they want to penetrate a Lexington backline that has been solid for most of the season.

Players to Watch

Lexington SC 

Ates Diouf and Nico Brown have the footwork and shot-creating abilities to make it a long night for likely Fuego goalkeeper Mitchell North. The duo is Lexington’s leading scorers, Diouf with 4 and Brown with 5. Lexington needs their heroic performances against NoCo (Diouf) or Madison (Brown) to capture three points outside Toyota Stadium.

Central Valley Fuego FC

Ozzie Ramos has arguably been Fuego’s best midfielder and has been a cornerstone of their attack when they can get it going. Ramos is among Fuego’s best in nearly all offensive statistics. Still, Ramos is only a playmaker, having notched zero goals so far in 2023, so while his playmaking ability will help create a chance for Fuego, he’ll need help if they are going to find the back of the net.

Game Prediction

Central Valley Fuego FC 0 – 2 Lexington SC 

And as always, make sure to follow Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Lexington SC, and all things soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth.


  • 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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Lexington hopeful for some California Dreamin’

#17: USL Promotion/Relegation

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