Louisville City kicked off the 2017 preseason with a 3-1 win over Young Harris College on Saturday. Cameron Lancaster, Luke Spencer, and Richard Ballard all scored on a perfect day for soccer. About 100ish supporters, along with club staff and some of the owners crowded the sideline opposite the teams for a glimpse of this year’s squad.
The game was a fairly physical affair from both teams. Louisville City absolutely dominated possession in the first half, and kept the ball for most of the second as well. Cameron Lancaster scored the opening goal fairly early in the match after an LC player was taken down in the 18 yard box and earned a penalty. Lancaster’s driving kick to the right post was well taken, and while YHC’s keeper guessed the right direction, he never had much of a chance to save it.
The Mountain Lions managed to equalize in one of their very few shots on goal about 15 or so minutes later when the YHC right mid sent a ball across goal that neither Tarek Morad or Sean Totsch managed to stop. The YHC scorer was almost unmarked when he got his right foot on the ball and fired it past Ranjitsingh into the back of the net.
City had a few more chances to get back on top before half, but none of them went in. Team Purple had a 10-1 shot advantage when the halftime whistle blew, but the score was even.
Luke Spencer replaced Lancaster in the second half, and took very little time making his presence felt. He got on the end of a through ball just past the center circle about five minutes after the half began and drove straight at goal, rifling a shot past the YHC keeper into the back of the net. It was an impressive shot and goal, and could very well be a sign of things to come.
The rest of the half took place mostly in the midfield, with Young Harris only troubling second half keeper Tim Dobrowolski a couple of times. City had quite a few corner kicks in the half, a couple of them dangerous, but Young Harris did well to pack the box to prevent a set piece goal.
Ilja Ilic almost made it 3 with about 10 or 15 to play when he chipped the keeper after some good combination play to get him the ball, but his shot clanged off the bottom of the far post and out for a throw in. Toward the end of the half, Richard Ballard made a sweet run across the 18 yard box with the ball and finally fired a right footed shot from just inside the 18 to close out the scoring.
Starters for Louisville City: Greg Ranjitsingh, Oscar Jimenez, Tarek Morad, Sean Totsch, Kyle Smith, Speedy Williams, Paolo DelPiccolo, George Davis IV, Niall McCabe, Richard Ballard, Cameron Lancaster.
- I was a bit surprised to see Jimenez start at left back, but he acquitted himself fairly well when called upon. Sean Russell did not see the field in this game. Jimenez did fairly well crossing the ball and covering the left flank, but Young Harris had so little of the ball it was hard to figure out whether he’s going to be a real starter.
- Luke Spencer is a big dude. That opening goal was all power, and it was pretty awesome. He played a bit like a bull in a china shop, but I really was impressed with his technical skill with the ball and his physicality. He’s not quite like Matt Fondy in terms of chasing down every ball, and he’s not super fast, but he’s going to be a very effective player for Elsie when he’s on the field.
- I was really pleased with the way Paolo DelPiccolo and Speedy Williams played in midfield. They seem to have a nice partnership, and did well circulating the ball. Paolo played as more of a distributor (and also took all of City’s corner kicks), while Speedy did more work breaking up play. Williams also impressed with his ability to keep the ball despite being double or sometimes triple teamed, or at least holding on to it so the defense could react and get set if he was ultimately dispossessed.
- Niall only played in the first half, but was pretty lively from what I could tell. Folks with the team tell me he’s feeling great and back at 100%.
- Cuatro played the full 90, and was generally a workhorse on the left. The same could be said for Kyle Smith, who also had a very good game.
- Tarek and Totsch did fine as a centerback pairing, though I do chalk up YHC’s goal to their inability to stop the ball. They maybe could’ve used some more support in the middle, but I do put that one on them. However, they otherwise played well. Tarek was his consistent, solid self. Totsch impressed me with his ability to go forward and play on the ball in both halves of the field.
- The player I was easily most impressed with, or maybe surprised by, though, was Richard Ballard. Maybe chalk it up to my low expectations for the kid, but he was fantastic with the ball at his feet, and combined really well with Kyle Smith. His goal was a long time in coming. I don’t know if he’s gonna be a starter for this team, but I was really excited by his performance. Quick player, very good passer, technically gifted in possession, and seemed like he was everywhere in the attacking third all the time, regardless of whether he had the ball.
All in all, a pretty good performance. Preseason soccer beats no soccer at all, and what we got was something to get excited about.