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Is Louisville City the Team to Beat in 2016?

by Taylor Hamblin

Editor’s Note: Everybody be sure to welcome a new author, Taylor Hamblin, to! Taylor’s an undergraduate student at Indiana University Southeast and a big soccer fan. He also has a truly legendary first name, IMO. Here’s his first-ever post:

With the offseason in full swing, many USL players are making moves to other clubs and even other leagues. Many teams have managed to keep their roster nearly the same, including Louisville City FC. City signed several key players and substitutes to this year’s upcoming roster including Matt Fondy, Scott Goodwin and Kadeem Dacres. The fast, attacking style of play of Louisville City FC is expected to continue to hurt defenses, as many of the club’s attacking and midfield threats are returning this year. The loss of Bryan Burke may hurt their stout defense, but with players like Enrique Montano and Sean Reynolds we should expect a no-nonsense defense again from LCFC.  All this begs the question: Is Louisville City the team to beat in the East?

It would seem that the answer is “yes.” Teams that challenged for conference supremacy last year include Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos. With Charleston Battery losing a key player in Dane Kelly, the USL’s all-time scoring leader, you should expect their attack to be less of a threat than last year. The four-time champions are still going to be a threat but don’t expect them to be as strong in the attack. The Battery’s defense is what won them games last season, conceding just 31 goals in 28 games.

The Rochester Rhinos have signed 10 returning players so you should expect them to be in similar form, however we don’t expect them to continue such a dominant run as they did this past year. Teams came close to beating them often and many teams who win the league end up losing the games they just “squeaked by” with a win last season. Rochester should still have a strong defense as they were the best in the league with only 16 goals conceded. However, all but four of their wins at home were against teams in the bottom half of the East table. The Rhinos tied 8 away games out of 14 games and lost one leaving their away record with 5 wins, 1 loss, and 8 ties. We don’t expect them to tie more away games, as wins are harder to come by away from home. With the rest of the East staying around the same and not losing key players, so far in this transfer window, we should expect a similar finish to the standings this year. However, expect Louisville City FC to learn from a very successful first season and make a big impact in the East again.