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Road demons continue to plague Lexington despite new roster

Lexington SC (1-1-1, 4 points, 5th in USL1) fell in their first league away match of the season against rival One Knoxville 2-0 on Saturday night. The loss marks the 1st league loss of the 2024 season for Lexington but was the 2nd straight loss across all competitions after the Vermont Green of USL2 upset Lexington 4-3 in the 1st round of the US Open Cup this past Tuesday. Many Lexington fans can remember how much the team struggled on the road last season, picking up 8 points across 16 matches with only 1 win on the road, and those road struggles may continue this year, given these recent results. 

The match against One Knoxville was different than the thrilling 7 goal affair the Vermont one was. Lexington saw the returns of Knight, Fox, Diouf, and Robertson to the starting lineup after all 4 did not start against Vermont, with only Diouf and Robertson being subbed on in that match. However, more than the return of LSC’s veteran players was needed to get past Knoxville, and as a result, it marks the 3rd straight loss for Lexington in Knoxville and the 2nd straight match being shut out.

Overall, the match was a tale of 2 halves for Lexington and Knoxville. Lexington looked solid in the 1st half despite starting very slow and only having 38% possession, but they were quick to counter some of Knoxville’s mistakes. Despite the lack of offense, the defense was stellar in the 1st half, with 3 interceptions and 15 clearances as Knoxville attempted to break through, but both sides headed into the locker rooms tied at 0-0 at the half. Going into the half, despite the slow start, Lexington looked like they would come out and be more on the attacking front foot as they appeared to be chipping slowly into One Knox’s stellar defense and controlling the ball more. 

However, the opposite of what I expected happened, and that was due to multiple things coming to bite Lexington in the butt that had been brewing all match and in the week leading up to it:

  1. 3 out of 4 backline defenders were on their 3 matches in 9 days, and with Knoxville’s attack constantly bearing down on them, they eventually broke through the tired legs in the 70th minute and then added one for good measure in the 88th.
  2. Lexington’s lack of real threatening chances in the final 3rd that we have seen across all league matches proved to be an issue again, as they could only manage 1 shot on target out of the 7 they took in the 2nd half, with 5 coming from outside of the box.
  3. The lack of attacking playmaking in the midfield made it extremely difficult for attackers to get any severe chances, as both Mané and Caputo did their best as defensive midfielders.

Still, Yankam’s creative abilities were deeply missed. Onen, Diouf, and Robertson do well in the attack to move the ball down the wings, but Lexington still needs that box-to-box midfield threat connecting the backline to the frontline through the middle of the field. All of these factors, plus a lack of chemistry, proved to be the nail in the coffin against a One Knox side that is the best in the league.

Now, I would hold off on panicking and overreacting like I have seen around the league by both outside fans and Lexington fans alike. Most players we have seen on the field are new to the roster, under a new head coach, and trying to build chemistry together while playing some of the league’s best teams (at least by preseason projections). There are going to be growing pains, and while they have not come out of the gate as world beaters, they have come out of the gate similarly to the best 2 USL1 teams from last season – as both North Carolina FC and Union Omaha had started last season going 1-1-1 through their first 3 league matches. NCFC even lost in their US Open Cup match to Loudoun United (although that was not an upset with Loudoun United being in USLC). So there is still plenty of time for Lexington to reach its potential, even with the league schedule going down by 10 matches – the Jager Cup matches being against fellow USL1 sides plays into Lexington’s favor to be able to recover from this relatively slow start.

Coach Powell and the lads will be able to prove if they can begin moving back in the right direction at home on Friday against another rival in the Greenville Triumph in the first edition of the Green Team Gauntlet of 2024. The match is set for Friday, March 29th, at 7 pm EST at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown, Kentucky. For the preview of that article and more, stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Lexington Sporting Club and everything 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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