In sports, they tell you to always play until the final whistle. Good thing that Cameron Lancaster took that to heart.
Despite a frustrating match, Louisville City walked away with all three points thanks to the young striker’s 94th minute free kick, defeating the Charlotte Independence 1-0 on the final touch of the match. A second-half substitute for forward Chandler Hoffman, the former Tottenham player scored in his first ever match for LCFC, having missed all of last season with an injury.
After the match, Lancaster said that he wanted to take the free kick, and luckily newly-appointed captain Aodhan Quinn allowed him to do so. “When we were awarded the free kick in stoppage time, the placement was set up perfectly for me,” Lancaster said. “I told that to him and he agreed, letting me take it. From there, it went right where I wanted to place it and I’m thankful to get back on the scoresheet in my first match back from injury.”
The goal saved LCFC from a fairly underwhelming draw, and if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Scott Goodwin in the 75th minute, it could have easily been a match-tying goal, rather than a winner. Goodwin came up with three saves at important times, but none were bigger than his penalty save against Charlotte’s Jorge Herrera. The penalty was not the most powerful, but Goodwin still did a fantastic job of reading it and getting just enough on it to push it wide of the post.
The match was often times what you would expect from the first away match of the season, and the play was almost as rough as the pitch at times. The starting lineup featured six players who had never played for the club in a USL match, and the omission of Tarek Morad, Enrique Montano, and Kadeem Dacres from the starting XI left many fans scratching their heads. Dacres being left out was extremely puzzling for some, as his preseason form had him playing some of the best soccer on the team.
The three players who took their spots in the lineup all had important moments, but while Sean Reynolds and Jonghyun Son both played very well in defense, it was the play of Mark-Anthony Kaye that was the most confusing. He had two very good chances to score in the first half, scuffing one of them well wide. His second chance, just moments after Charlotte wasted a great opportunity of their own, Kaye returned the favor. After cutting inside of two defenders and getting to the edge of the six-yard area, he skied an attempt well high and wide of goal. However, Kaye did a great job on the defensive side, often helping break up attacks and winning free kicks.
One key factor that cannot be overlooked is the decision of the referee to award LCFC with the free kick at the end of the match. Dacres was taken down by a very late sliding challenge about twenty yards out, and the referee allowed the advantage to be played. Not only did it take about 4-5 seconds before he blew the whistle to award the free kick, but LCFC even had a shot that went well wide and high. Whatever the reason, the referee decided to give the free kick as well, and Lancaster made the most of it, as the keeper could do nothing more than tip the shot onto the post and into the goal.
As always, the decisions of Coach James O’Connor, no matter how much we may question them, turned out to be for the best, as the defense was solid much of the night and while the attack struggled to link up at times, it ended up still being a big road win to start the season. “We’re happy with the result; you should be any time you can take the points away from home,” O’Connor said after the match. “For the first game of the season, we saw some things that pleased us and some things that we will return to the training field and address.”
It was a fun night for the fans back at home. A fairly large crowd of Coopers showed up at Against The Grain to cheer on the team, including an appearance from Mayor Greg Fischer. The chants of “Scotty Goodwin” were extremely loud after his penalty stop, but it paled in comparison to the roar that filled the place when Lancaster opened up his account at the club in stunning fashion.
Now the attention shifts to next Saturday’s home opener against the Sugar Free Red Bulls with a 3pm kickoff. President Amanda Duffy has issue the challenge to fill Slugger Field with 10,000 fans and after the heroics of Goodwin and Lancaster, the fans should be pumped up to welcome their boys home for the first time on the season. We encourage all fans to make plans to attend, as we look to make Louisville a fortress yet again, and show the new players just what type of atmosphere they are in for when they play at home.