Lexington unable to bring the Bourbon Barrel home

Lexington SC left Knoxville empty-handed last night after falling 1-0 to rival One Knoxville in the season’s finale of The Barrel Brawl. The loss moved Lexington to 6-6-11 on the year with 24 points, remaining 10th in the league table, while Knoxville moves to 8-7-9 with 31 points maintaining 7th in the league table, but now just 1 point outside of the playoffs. 

Overall, the match was a defensive battle, with just 1 goal being scored all night due to both keepers making incredible saves that denied many chances, even when Knoxville went down to 10 men just before the half when Giovanni Calixtro (former FC Tucson teammate of Lexington’s Charlie Machell and Kaelon Fox last season) collided with Terique Mohammed in making a play for the ball with his boot raised. Knoxville would play the entirety of the 2nd half down a man, with the difference maker being a 49th-minute curling shot by Knoxville midfielder Angelo Kelly-Rosales from just outside the penalty arc that just squeaked past Knight’s diving hand.

Coach Stockly had Lexington attacking all night, constantly putting pressure on the Knoxville backline and their star keeper Sean Lewis. Throughout the 2nd half, Stockley made substitutes that moved the formation into an “all gas, no brakes” mentality, with Fox being the sole true defender left by the end of the game after bringing on Machell, Soso, Balogun, and James throughout the 2nd half in hopes of boosting the attack, running what I saw as a 1-5-4 shape for the final 10 minutes of the match. The all-out attack created chances and shots for Lexington, and the boys were unlucky in finding the back of the net.

On the positive side, Knight and the defense played exceptionally well the entire match, especially Fan Man of the Match Kaelon Fox, who completed 17 recoveries with 2 clearances and a blocked shot. Amal Knight is why the match was 1-0 for Knoxville. While he only recorded 3 saves (any time the keeper catches the ball is not considered a save), he was crucial in denying Knoxville’s 12 shots with his heroic saves between the posts, earning the Bad Ass Moment of the Match with his goal-line stand in the 26th minute.

Now, I have seen the discourse online from a small group of Lexington fans that are particularly disappointed (putting that mildly) in the Boys in Green performance because they had a man advantage. I wanted to address some misconceptions about the man advantage, especially against a more defensive-minded side like One Knox under Mark McKeever. Yes, being a man up on the opposition is an advantage; I do not deny that, but it is not that big, especially since Knoxville could make adjustments at the half. Jonathan Wilson, writing for The Guardian (one of the best global soccer news outlets) in 2010, found that teams had been trending toward being better down a man than we had seen in the 20th century, and this was 13 years ago before the advanced numbers revolution that all sports have seen in the last decade.
In USL1, in particular this season, there have been 13 matches when a red card was given while both teams were level. The club with the man advantage have gone 5-4-4 in those matches for a winning percentage of 38% when a side goes up a man, which means teams are more likely to draw or lose (62%) with a man advantage than they are to win. Now, that record does move to 5-1-4 when you take out the 3 matches that saw the red card be shown beyond the 90th minute, but that still only moves the winning percentage to 50% percent, which means it is a coin flip and wrong to say “a club should definitely win with a man up.” So, while I agree that Lexington did not fully capitalize on having a man advantage, I need to be more focused on the fact we had a man advantage regarding the factors that saw Lexington lose this match, especially since Knoxville lost an attacking option and not anyone from their backline or midfield.
I want to see Lexington win every game and would love for them to dominate every opponent we face. However, I also know those wants are not realistic, and when I look at this match with a level head, I see that Lexington was unable to finish in the final 3rd from a mix of bad luck, some poor shots, and strong defending by Knox. While disappointed, the Boys in Green put in a performance that showed a lot of heart and gave it their all. Sometimes in football, it is just not your club’s night.
Lexington SC will take on the Richmond Kickers in their next match at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, August 26th, at 7 pm EST/6 pm CST. Check in later this week for our preview of that matchup, and stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Lexington SC, and everything soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth. 
I will end with my favorite football chant for my fellow Lexington fans that have green running through their veins-
Sporting til I die
I am Sporting til I die
I know I am
I’m sure I Am
I am Sporting til I die
Forever and always
Photo by: Lexington Sporting Club 


  • 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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