Welcome the 2017 season! This year we start out hot with with our first and only home King’s Cup game against St. Louis FC. Somehow, through the history of this “rivalry,” Louisville City will have played in St. Louis five times to STL’s 3 trips to Louisville, but that’s another topic for another day.
This season is interesting for both the USL and LCFC. On the USL’s hand we have been granted Division 2 status by the US Soccer Federation. That is a promising start to another great season. On the LCFC season it’s a season that is pivotal to future success. Why you ask? Well, for one a third times a charm and I think this is the year LCFC make the USL Cup Final. It’s time to prove that were not second best every year. So with that said let’s dive in to the keys to the match, based on last year’s performances.
St. Louis FC:
Last year’s record: 8-12-10
The West division was not good to St. Louis as they missed the playoffs for the second year running. However, this year there seems to be a new swagger Fenton. After talking with several of the St. Louiligans, they feel that their team, under new coach Preki, is poised to make a run into the playoffs this year.
I am inclined to agree with them. STLFC really stepped up their game for the start of the season. They signed one of the biggest star goalkeepers this offseason in Devala Gorrick, who earned all-USL second team honors. They also signed the 2014 PDL Goalkeeper of the year in Adam Grinwis, so they will be no pushovers in the goal this year. Their defense unit is totally new with only one returner. The midfield has some good players in 2014 USL Cup champions Octavio Guzman and Ivan Mirkovic. Up front they add Jose Angulo and Christian Volesky, who both have scored at least 9 goals a season. So with an entirely new lineup look for STLFC to make the playoffs this year if this team plays well together. Below is the current roster for ST Louis FC as of March 14, 2017:
Goalkeepers: Devala Gorrick, Adam Grinwis
Defenders: AJ Cochran, Konrad Plewa, Austin Ledbetter, Matt Sheldon, Wes Charpie, Ryan Howe, Erick Cabalceta
Midfielders: Seth Rudolph, Sebastian Dalgaard, Dragan Stojkov, Chad Bond, Mats Bjurman, Tyler David, Nick Radosavljevic, Octavio Guzman, Ivan Mirkovic, Denis Ahmetovic
Forwards: Christian Volseky, Jose Angulo, Milan Petosevic
Last year’s record: 17-9-4
Your LCFC kicks off the season trying to retain the Kings Cup for the 3rd straight year! It’s the first of 5 potential trophies we can win (the others being USL regular season and USL playoff trophies, The River Cities Cup, and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup).
So what has changed from last year? Well I think I sense a bit of a “we want a trophy” mentality in the LCFC camp. Having been second best in the USL East the last 2 years, I think LCFC has to prove that it is the best team in the USL.
While City’s personnel losses over the offseason are well documented, we recruited Richard Ballard, a hometown favorite, who I played against and with as a youth for many years. He’s a top class raw talent that can become a key player for LCFC I think. We signed Sean Russell and Sean Totsch to bolster the defense and midfield. These two can come on and make an immediate impact as they have top tier talent. Brian Ownby and Luke Spencer add USL and MLS experience which will be great for LCFC as they try to get more trophies to their record. Oscar Jimenez adds pace and skill down the wings that LCFC will need after the lose of Kadeem Dacres. I think with a large cohort of the team returning for LCFC we should see LCFC continue a run of good quality soccer and hopefully bring home some silverware. Louisville City FC’s roster stands as follows, courtesy of Louisvillecityfc.com:
Goalkeeepers: Tim Dobrowolski, Greg Ranjitsingh
Defenders: Tarek Morad, Sean Reynolds, Paco Craig, Kyle Smith, Sean Totsch, Sean Russell
Midfielders: Paolo Del Piccolo, Devon “Speedy” Williams, George “Cautro” Davis IV, Oscar Jimenez, Niall McCabe, Brian Ownby, Guy Abend, Mark Anthony-Kaye
Forwards: Cameron Lancaster, Luke Spencer, Richard Ballard, Ilija Ilic
Prediction: 2 0 LCFC
I think STLFC will struggle early with a whole new team and being molded into a powerhouse later in the seasons. I expect James O’ Connor will start a safe lineup, not putting to many new faces into the roster yet, as he probably is trying to lock up positions for some floater players. I think O’Connor will be more likely to experiment with the lineup in the forwards and midfield than with the defense in this game. As far as lineup is concerned, I think it’s to close to predict. I expect the newer signees will make plenty of appearances throughout the season we will see how O’Connor works the team. I have had no complaints in 2 seasons with lineup selection so why start now? Anyway let’s welcome in the 2017 Season with a COME ON YOU BOYS IN PURPLE!