Sunday Night Football for the final Battle of the Horses

Lexington SC (7-8-12, 29 points) takes on the Charlotte Independence (12-7-8, 43 points) on Sunday night for the 3rd and final “Battle of the Horses” of the season; kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm EST/6 pm CST. Both sides enter the match, having beaten the other on home soil. The Boys in Green won the first-ever matchup between the 2 sides 1-0, thanks to the legendary penalty stop by Amal Knight in stoppage time. The Jacks would get revenge when Lexington visited in July, pulling out a 2-1 victory. Both sides need a win for playoff purposes, with Lexington still within reach of that final playoff spot and Charlotte needing to give themselves more breathing room from the playoff line.

Charlotte comes into the match strong, going 3-1-1 in their last 5 matches. However, they are 1-2-2 in their previous 5 matches away from home, facing a Lexington side that is at their best when they are at home. In terms of their play, the Independence is an interesting case as a team when you look at them on paper, only ranking in the top 3 of the league in 2 categories – clearances per match (19.4) and saves per match (3.7) – being top of the league in those 2 categories; also they lead the league in passing accuracy at 82%. However, in every other statistic, they are right around the middle of the pack, making the Jacks very hard for me to judge. Charlotte has one of the best keepers in the league with Austin Pack, who is battling Sean Lewis of Knox for this year’s golden glove, and their defense is one of the best in the league, but similar to Lexington, they are a team that is a toss-up every single match of what performance they will bring, and that is largely down to their attack. Their attack is similar to Lexington’s, but they can get goals from anywhere, with 4 players who have netted 5 or more goals with 15 total goal scorers on the season (9 have at least 2 goals). If Charlotte can maintain their strong attack as of late, it could make for a long night at Toyota Stadium.

Lexington will be under new leadership in this one, with the recent news that Sam Stockley is stepping down as head coach to focus solely on being the LSC Sporting Director with assistant head coach Nacho Novo being promoted to interim head coach for the remainder of the season. 

However, Lexington is still one of the best teams at home, and while they might not be as red-hot as the Jacks, they have still been putting in high-quality performances over their last 5, going 1-2-2 with both losses being on the road. Lexington will be in their home fortress for this one, where Stockley’s side has only dropped 2 matches in front of the green faithful. The Boys in Green are steller at home, with a +3 goal difference picking up 23 points at home, while Charlotte is a more vulnerable side on the road. I am inquisitive to see how Lexington bounces back from the Greenville and Fuego heartbreaks, with my gut telling me that they will be coming into this match on a mission, with Independence being the team that drew the short straw. The key for Lexington in this one will be the midfield (as Crane Kicks Lex broke down), controlling the pace and not allowing Charlotte to gain any consistent momentum offensively. And while they can handle it, we will need them to do it for 90+ if we want to collect 3 points at home and get closer to that final playoff spot. Lastly, we are seeing an increase in minutes for our young players, so I will be curious what youth players could feature in Novo’s 18 tonight and how they will be used.

Players to Watch

Lexington SC

Erik Ceja-Gonzalez – Gonzalez has become a staple of the backline since the formation switch to the more versatile 3-5-2, thriving in the center-back role alongside Fox. He had a Foxy-level clearance against NoCo and will need to continue solidifying as the perfect partner to Fox if Lexington wants to shut down Jack’s attack.

Charlotte Independence

Austin Pack – No surprise here, like Knight, Pack has been critical to Jack’s success this year with his Gold Glove-worthy season. Lexington will need to pepper him with shots to slip one past the man running away with the saves lead on the year.

As always,  stick to 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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Sunday Night Football for the final Battle of the Horses

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