The Darren Powell Era in Lexington launches with a solid start to the 2024 campaign

Lexington SC kicked off their 2nd season in club history this past Saturday at home against Northern Colorado Hailstorm, with Darren Powell making his competitive match debut. The match ended just like their inaugural home opener, in a 0-0 draw. Being a part of 1 of 3 opening weekend matches, the results place Lexington at 3rd in the league table. While not the thriller that many across the league were hoping for, given the 2 sides’ previous history (16 goals combined across the 3 matches from last season), we learned much about how LSC may look under Coach Powell.

In his debut, Coach Powell set out a new squad in a familiar formation for LSC fans, running what appeared to be a 3-5-2 (FotMob reports it as a 4-1-4-1), similar to the formation that coach Stockley and Novo ran towards the end of last season. However, this formation was built with attack and aggression in mind. We often saw LSC running a 2-4-4 attack with Fox and Mendez being the sole backline, and we saw a return of Knight’s sweeper keeper role last year. This attacking style, and the Hailstorm’s best attacker Billy King being out with a reported injury, led to Lexington dominating the possession (61%) due to Northern Colorado moving to a more defensive style and preparing to catch Lexington on a counter.

Defensively, we saw Powell employ a high press with Lancaster (who dawned the captain’s armband in his debut in green and black), often sitting right on top of Delgado’s box when he attempted a goal kick with Diouf backing him up from the middle. Corrales and Lue Young would drop to the full-back role, with Caputo dropping into a CDM. The backline of Lue Young, Mendez, Fox, and Corrales looked solid for their first time playing competitively as a unit; Fox and Mendez especially developed solid chemistry already. The Hailstorm attack was nonexistent in the 1st half, firing off only 1 shot that rocketed off the woodwork, but the backline held firm when they started to push for a goal in the final 20 minutes.

Now, I am developing my tactical mind when breaking down how players move and what roles they serve, so take what I observe and how you will. Still, from what I saw, it does appear that Coach Powell has prepared this team to be able to adapt to whatever they are given quickly and effectively, as when the Hailstorm did eventually manage to fire off a counterattack, the backline recovered quickly, not giving up a single big chance while intercepting 9 of Northern Colorado’s passes and blocking 2 shots, holding the Hailstorm to just 4 shot on target. Lexington looked very good on the attack, even if the stats would say otherwise. The paring of Lancaster and Diouf up top with Brown and Robertson supporting on the wings and Yankam from the midfield has the making to be deadly once everything clicks into place. LSC had many close opportunities to break the deal lock, with the ball going just wide of the net or the Hailstorm defense snuffing out the attack.

And that is what needs to be taken from this match. 14 out of the 24 players on the squad are new, with 8 players making their Lexington debuts in this match, 6 in the starting 11 alone with only 5 1/2 weeks of preseason together, it is going to take time for things to develop for this roster to reach its full potential, and that potential looks just as good as predicted this offseason. Time will be the true teller of this roster assembled by Stockley and Powell, but this match laid a solid foundation, and it is a step toward the roster reaching its full potential.

Speaking with the media post-match, Coach Powell remained optimistic about his squad, saying,

“I look at the positives first and foremost, to keep a clean sheet at home in the first game of the season against one of the league leaders in goals last year, but I think it was one of those games where both teams were feeling each other out,” Powell said “We’ve got to just continue with our confidence that we have and take the opportunities when we have them.”

Ultimately, this was a match of many firsts for Powell’s squad. While it did not have a fairytale ending like many LSC fans were hoping for, it did result in a point on the league table and some solid things to build on as the Red Wolves of Chattanooga come to town on Friday for their season’s opening match.

Player of the Match

One player I have not mentioned is one Lexington fan, and USL1 fans are very familiar with Amal Knight. The Jamaican international was stellar once again for Lexington in this one, earning Player of the Match honors for his shutout performance that featured 2 clutch saves in the final 30 minutes of the match. LSC’s Iron Man (or Iron Fox) Kaelon Fox had high praises for his keeper post-match –

“Amal has been great, he was great last year, he’s great this year,” Kaelon Fox said. “I’m really excited for him, I think he’s going to have another great year. He’s a captain for us and he’s a leader. He pushes everyone to be better so to have him behind me in this game I was really happy. He had a great performance soon to be more great performances.”

I suspect we will see Knight in the league’s team of the week from this performance. With many new pieces working together to gain chemistry, it was nice to see that Lexington’s goal will still protected by the Jamaican international.

We will see how Lexington improves on a solid opening performance when Coach Powell’s squad hosts the Chattanooga Red Wolves for the first of 4 matches (2 league and 2 in-season cup) on Friday night at Toyota Stadium. For our preview of that matchup 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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