This is it, y’all. The last one. The season starts on Saturday. SATURDAY! I can’t believe it.
Thanks for reading this fair webpage for the past few weeks, and thanks to all our contributing writers Will Phillips, Michael C. Wells, Taylor Hamblin, and Jason Ence for putting together what I think was a great series of previews for each team we’ll face in the Eastern Conference this season. In case you missed them, here’s a list of the links:
- Part I: Bethlehem Steel
- Part 2: Charleston Battery
- Part 3: Charlotte Independence
- Part 4: FC Cincinnati;
- Part 5: FC Montreal
- Part 6: Harrisburg City Islanders
- Part 7: New York Red Bulls II
- Part 8: Orlando City B
- Part 9: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
- Part 10: Richmond Kickers
- Part 11: Rochester Rhinos
- Part 12: Toronto FC II
- Part 13: Wilmington Hammerheads
The one team we left out in all of those, of course, is our own Louisville City Purple Somethings. Let’s break it down, keeping in mind that I haven’t seen a practice or a preseason game, so I could be totally wrong:
Same as last year, which is good for continuity. James O’Connor led Louisville City to a 14-8-6 record in his first ever season as head coach, and he did it while rocking sweaters, sweater-vests, and sweet hats in his ongoing war against the sun. Assistant coach Daniel Byrd and goalkeepers coach Thabane Sutu are also back on the sidelines for City.
Returning: Scott Goodwin (GK), Greg Ranjitsingh (GK), Conor Shanosky, Tarek Morad, Enrique Montano, Sean Reynolds
Out: Bryan Burke, Adam West, Kevin Cossette
In: Jonghyun Son, Ben Newnam, Paco Craig
Scotty Goodwin and Greg Ranjitsingh are back in goal for City. Scotty started his career in purple like a house afire, racking up six clean sheets in the first half of 2015 before things started dropping off a little toward the end of the season. Obviously, losing USL Defender of the Year Bryan Burke is going to sting. However, I’m thinking Enrique Montano will fill in nicely at the right back spot, combining with Kadeem Dacres on the wing like nothing ever changed. Obviously Morad and Shanosky were O’Connor’s first choice pairing at centerback last year. That leaves open the question of who plays on the left? Sean Reynolds is too talented to sit the bench in my view, but Steve Peake and Jordan Cooper said on the Final Judgment the other day that Jonghyun Son is a monster at left back. Nice problem to have, I think.
Returning: Magnus Rasmussen, Kadeem Dacres, Aodhan Quinn, Niall McCabe, Guy Abend
Out: Charlie Adams, Juan Guzman
In: Andrew Lubahn, George Davis IV, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Paolo DelPiccolo, Kyle Smith
ALL OF YOUR MIDFIELDERS ARE BELONG TO US. That’s ten mids. TEN. Maybe my dream 3-6-1 lineup is going to be a reality after all. Assuming it’s not, I’m guessing some combination of Guy Abend, Aodhan Quinn, and Paolo DelPiccolo are going to sit deep in front of the back four with three attacking midfielders in front of them. Those attacking three are most likely to be MAG RAM, Kadeem, and either Cuatro Davis or Mark-Anthony Kaye on the left. The awesome thing about having all of these midfielders is O’Connor can do just about anything he wants. 4-4-2? No problem. 4-3-3? Sure, throw MAG RAM, Kadeem, Kaye, or Davis up top with one or two strikers, no biggie. 4-6-YOLO? Say no more, fam. Paolo, Niall, Aodhan, Son and Guy have got you covered. Let’s also not forget that Andrew “Loveboat” Lubahn scored twice in preseason, so it might be hard to keep him on the bench, too.
I can understand why JO’C might be a little giddy with all of his new toys and the options that they lend to him. I just hope all of those options don’t make him indecisive a la Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs AHEM.
Returning: Ilija Ilic, Cameron Lancaster
Out: Matt Fondy, Nate Polak
In: Chandler Hoffman, Kenny Doublette
There’s no way to get around it: losing Matt Fondy and his hair leaves a big scoring hole in this team. That said, Chandler Hoffman seems like the kind of striker who can be both opportunistic in front of goal as well as a guy who can create his own chances. He’s going to be a different kind of player, but one that I think fans will like. I don’t think he’s gonna score 20 goals this season, though. People around the team are very high on Cameron Lancaster, who was injured all of last season. This might be a situation where O’Connor deploys two strikers, something we haven’t seen much of before. The team might even get a boost from Ilic, Jordan Cooper’s favorite player of all time. I do expect to see more goals coming from the aforementioned midfield Megazord, however.
This is a stacked roster designed to dominate possession and attack the opponent’s goal. I have a little bit of concern about what they do when they get scoring chances, but that’s just because there’s a Matt Fondy-sized hole at the top of the formation and I’m not sure how that gets filled yet. Meanwhile, the club made some good signings to shore up City’s defenses, and our conversations with Scotty make me pretty sure he’s amped to make opponents really sad this season.
There’s no denying that the USL has gotten stronger since we left it at the end of last season. Then again, so has Louisville City. I see no reason not to expect our Royals to contend for the top of the conference, if not the league, this season, and at the very minimum make the playoffs. Get at me.
COME ON, CITY!