#Lexington #USL

The Powell Era kicks off against the Hailstorm

Lexington SC’s first-ever competitive match under new head coach Darren Powell is set to take place on Saturday, March 9th at 7 pm at Toyota Stadium. The 2nd year club faces an opponent that cannot handle Ates “The Truth” Diouf in the Northern Colorado Hailstorm. LSC fans may remember the Hailstorm was the team that Lexington nearly beat at home last season before Diouf’s game-winner was called offsides and that the Hailstorm fell victim to a Diouf game-winner on their home soil to earn the club its fist-ever road win. The 3rd matchup last year was slightly forgettable for fans, as the Hailstorm took a 3-0 lead by the 55th minute and snuffed out a late LSC comeback that saw the match end in a 3-2 Hailstorm victory. All that said, Lexington and Northern Colorado enter 2024 both looking very different than last season, and both look to start the new, shorter 2024 USL1 league campaign with 3 points. 

The Hailstorm is coming into Toyota Stadium without their 2 biggest stars from last year – Golden Boot/MVP Trevor Amann (who joined the Sacramento Republic) and Golden Playmaker/Defender of the Year Arthur Rogers (now with FC Tulsa). Additionally, the loss of their captain, Rob Cornwall, to Boeheim FC in Ireland has been overlooked. However, despite these critical losses and a new addition, Brahima Ouattara (who I had previously had as a front-runner for Young Player of the Year), being unable to join the squad, Northern Colorado is still a dangerous team that should not be overlooked at all by Lexington.

Zayed brought back much of last year’s roster – 13 in total, with 3 players being key returners – GK Lalo Delgado, FW Billy King, and CB Brunon Rendon. All 3 of these players are set to have stellar seasons. King had a stellar 2023, netting 8 goals while picking up 5 assists. He will likely be tasked with trying to fill the Amann-sized hole in the attack, but if one looks at how Zayed transformed Amann from 2022 to 2023, I would suspect King’s in for a breakout season. Delgado was robbed of league honors last year and will likely be out for revenge, considering he led the league in cleans sheets (13) and was 2nd in saves (88). Finally, Rendon is on many people’s prediction lists as an early favorite to win Defender of the Year in 2024. 

Add in new additions like One Knox loanee Jake Keegan (who scored 2 out of 6 goals last year against Lexington), trailsit signee Ethan Hoard, and Trinidad and Tobago international Real Gill, and you have a squad that does not look as gutted as some might think. Zayed is among the league’s best coaches, so Lexington will undoubtedly have its hands full on Saturday.

While the players on the field will be busy trying to stop the Hailstorm attack while hoping to get past Delgado, Powell will have his handsful pregame trying to determine a starting XI and a full 18 out of the loaded roster he has assembled. As the crew of Crane Kicks Lex talked about on their recent podcast, and I have said much to anyone who has asked – Powell has created the best problem to have: depth with players who could all be starters. Powell and his staff have created a depth chart over the past 5 1/2 weeks of the preseason, but that has yet to be understood, and we likely may never know the actual depth chart until we hit the middle of the season.

Powell and his staff have been on record stating that they approach every game as a must-win, with the focus and priority it deserves. I suspect this means that each 18 and starting XI will be designed for either the opponent or based on who is developing the most chemistry with each other. 

Below is my suspected starting XI, with possible subs for each starter in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, Powell is a noted fan of the 4-3-3 attacking style formation, so I could be entirely off base. Either way, this matchup could be a very exciting and must-watch for any USL1 fan across the country on ESPN+. If you are in the area, make sure that you are there!

Players to Watch

Cameron Lancaster – There are many players that I could choose from for this one, but I think Lancaster will be out to prove something in this match. He is arguably the best professional soccer player in Kentucky’s history. Lancaster did not return to Louisville because neither side could reach an agreement, leading to his “step down” to Lexington. The 31-year-old striker will be out to prove to the rest of USL that he still has it, and what better time to do that than in his first official game with Lexington.

Lalo Delgado – As I discussed earlier, Delgado had a stellar 2023 and was robbed of end-of-the-year honors when he did not receive one. Delgado will be critical to stopping a Lexington attack that looks extremely deadly and prove that he is capable of stopping a Lexington attack, considering in 3 matches, he has allowed a total of 8 official (2 unofficial) goals past him, or 2.67 goals per match.

Final Score Prediction

Lexington SC 2-1 Northern Colorado Hailstorm


  • 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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