Lexington’s Road Pains Continue
We have seen this recap before – Lexington fell on the road 0-2 to Union Omaha for their 8th loss on the road this season. The Boys in Green have only managed just 2 points through 10 road matches all season, and with half of the 12 remaining games left on the year, Coach Stockley will have to find a way to win on the road to at least get his boys out of the bottom 3 of the league.
Lexington are now 4-6-10 on the year with 18 points, remaining 10th in the league, while Omaha jumped to 4th in the league table with 31 points and an 8-7-5 record. The win was Omaha’s 4th straight at home and extended their home unbeaten run to 5 games. The shutout ends Lexington’s 14-match run with at least 1 goal scored.
Omaha’s high-flying offense was on full display for this match, rocketing off 15 shots with 8 on target, and they completed 57% of their passes within the Lexington half. Duba got Omaha on the board early, scoring a header (5th goal) in the 24th minute off a cross from Conor Doyle (4th assist) that froze Amal Knight in his boots. Headers continue to be Lexington’s weakness, as they have been scored on with a header in each of the last 4 matches they have lost (Tormenta, Charlotte, Fuego, and Omaha).
Not to be outdone, Omaha captain JP Scearce (the man I had said to watch out for in my preview) got his 5th goal on the year (and yep, you guessed it), a header off a long free kick assist by Marco Milanese to give the Owls their 2-0 cushion in the 52nd minute. The goal would be the last real sign of any attack for both sides as the remainder of the game would be a back and forth battle among the midfields.
Now, Lexington did not roll over and take a beating in this match. Coach Stockley has undoubtedly improved the backline since their 4-match losing streak, with Fox, Murillo, and Gonzalez proving to be a solid backline trio. Kaelon Fox proved why he was the club’s first-ever signing and the only man to start in every match for Lexington, with his #SCTop10 (debatably the save of the year) clearance in the 36th minute.
Coach Stockley kept rolling with the new 3-5-2 formation to start the match but with two significant changes from the previous 2 contests – Soso Kim in for captain Charlie Machell and Khalid Balogun in for Nico Brown. I initially liked the change; Soso and Balogun provided a much-needed spark and helped equalize the match against the Kickers, but in hindsight, it did not go to plan.
As much as I love Soso and Balogun, they serve better roles as super-subs (especially Balogun) for Coach Stockley rather than as starters. It could be the case of keeping Machell and Brown’s legs fresh for Saturday, but it did not pay off in this match. Diouf and Brown have chemistry and play off each other well. The pairing solved the previous issue with the 4-4-2 in not giving Diouf a consistent partner upfront. However, the swap of Soso for Machell played a more significant impact on this match because Machell’s leadership ability and presence on the field are unmatched by any other midfielder Coach Stockley has at his disposal. The lack of Machell made the midfield seem slightly disorganized and sometimes lost on defense.
Overall, Lexington needs to take the advice of the legendary coach Ted Lasso and “Be a Goldfish” to prepare themselves for an even more formidable opponent in the Northern Colorado Hailstorm, who are top of the table with 35 points and a 10-5-3 record (6-1-0 at home.)
Man of the Match (Fotmob Rating)
Omaha – JP Scearce (8.5)
Lexington – Kaelon Fox (7.1)
Check back later this week for our preview of that match, and as always, follow Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Lexington SC, and all things soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth!