#Lexington #USL

Lexington SC looks to bounce back from Open Cup loss

Lexington SC (1-1-0, 4 points) will be traveling down to Knoxville tomorrow night in the 4th edition of the Battle of the Barrel derby, a derby that we will see happen a total of 4 times this season. The match will also be One Knoxville’s (1-0-0, 3 points) home opener. Kick-off is set for 6:30 pm EST at the University of Tennessee’s Regal Soccer Stadium.

Similar to Lexington, One Knoxville has a good start so far to their 2024 campaign through 2 matches, winning both and scoring 2 goals in both matchups against league opponent Charlotte in their season opener this past Saturday and then former USL2 rival Asheville City SC in the Open Cup on Wednesday night. Different from LSC, Mckeever did not entirely overhaul the roster in entering his 3rd year in the dugout for One Knox, even though they finished just ahead of Lexington in the table last season (by 6 points) and tied with Fuego for the least amount of goals scored with 36 in a 32 match season. McKeever brought back 13 players from last season for a squad that was among the best defensively. Still, on the offensive side, he went shopping and brought in USL1 vet Kingsford Adjein from Tormenta and the marquee offseason signing of Rich Ballard from USLC side Detroit City. However, the name many Lexington fans will recognize in Knoxville’s offseason signings is former captain and inaugural Golden Horseshoe winner Charlie Machell, who returned to eastern Tennessee after playing at Eastern Tennessee University.

These upgrades on the attacking side and the familiarity that the rest of the roster has with each other appear to have Knoxville looking like a team that opponents need to be worried about offensively and not just about trying to crack their defense. While they have only had 2 matches, 1 against a Charlotte side that seems to have had father time to catch up to their north of 30 core players, and 1 against pre-professional side Asheville City, One Knox has been very effective at passing the ball and getting touches in the opponents’ box, peppering countless shots (a majority off target) at opposing keepers and defenses. So, while it has just been 2 matches, I expect Knoxville to be more on the attack this season and in this matchup than they have been in the past.

For Lexington, there are many questions surrounding the team now after the thrilling Open Cup match against Vermont Green that saw Lexington fall behind early and unable to make a comeback. The midfield raises the most questions since it appears that Mané is not a direct replacement for when Yankam is not on the field – that does not mean that Mané is a liability out there. However, it does seem that the team’s style changes compared to Yankam, who will still be away on international duty with Malta this weekend. Secondly, while Knight firmly has the starting role, I am curious to see if changes are made at the GK2 after Tuesday night with Campuzano (and the defense) being beaten 3 times off corners to the back post. Lastly, I am worried about our centerback depth and leadership when Fox is not on the field – Pattie and Mendez did ok individually on Tuesday night, but it was evident that the chemistry was not there. I know that Ackon and Agboola are dealing with injuries, although I do not know the timetables for their returns. Most of these concerns come from seeing a more rotated squad for most of the Open Cup match, so I suspect we will see closer to the team we saw on Friday night against the Red Wolves against Knoxville minus Yankam.

On the positive side, Cameron Lancaster finally broke through and scored his first 2 goals in green – 1 from a stellar free kick and 1 from inside the box- showing me that the 31-year-old still has it. Additionally, Issac Cano looked dangerous and had many chances on Tuesday night, netting the opener for Lexington. If both of them can get going, alongside Diouf, who I know is hungry for his first goal of the season, we may see the Powell ball we were promised. I hope that Powell and the staff can light a fire under the squad now, as they certainly looked very determined in the 2ns half of the Vermont match, nearly equalizing, and Knoxville may be the match to break through attacking-wise in the league.

Players to Watch

Angelo Kelly-Rosales – The Honduran midfielder earned is the reigning USL1 player of the week for his goal + assist effort in Knoxville’s 2-1 win over Charlotte and looked stellar against Asheville City. Kelly-Rosales was the difference-maker last time One Knox and Lexington clashed, and he may be the difference in this one.

Cameron Lancaster – Typically, I try to avoid picking the same players, but Lancaster has shown me over the last 3 matches that he is spearheading the attack under Powell at the moment, and I think he will be out to get a positive result this week after the Open Cup loss.

Final Score Predictions
One Knoxville 2-2 Lexington


  • 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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