We’ve already seen Louisville City FC once. What’s Round Two going to look like? I went to the Scouse’s House supporters group, where Marketing Director Kenny Alward filled me in on the Boys in Purple.
For Club and Country: Obviously expectations were high for the defending champs, but was the early-season undefeated streak a surprise still? Does the first loss change the perception of it at all?
Scouse’s House: I think all of us hoped for a fast start and also knew the importance of it because of the fixture list. We played a very tough schedule to start the season, so picking up points against those teams you expect to be around the top of the table at the end of the season is crucial. We did retain almost our entire squad from the championship team last season, which definitely contributed to the streak. You can see the absence of midfield Mark Anthony Kaye who we sold to Los Angeles FC in the MLS, but that is what you have to do for both the player and the club’s best interest. When you throw all of those pieces in the mix, I am in the camp of saying I am pleased with the start.
I rarely think there is a “good loss”, but last week’s loss at Indy felt like a harsh result. The officiating was very tight and neither team really got into the flow of the game. I really don’t take too much from last week’s loss outside of the dropped points.
FCAC: What’s changed for LCFC since the beginning of the season? Any major shifts in preferred personnel or tactics?
S’sH: You never really know what to expect coming off the back of a championship season. You know that every team circles the date they play us when the fixtures are released. I think the opponents’ approach to us this year is more cagey, because of our style which is to control the midfield with a high line of pressure, keep it tight and then when the opportunity arises, strike quickly. We have found many teams sitting deeper this year and trying to hit us on the counter attack. Anytime a team is throwing 9-10 men behind the ball you have to adapt and we have seen some opportunities begin to show their face with some nice wing play to get in behind the line, but it’s definitely a work in progress depending on who is available due to injuries.
FCAC: The team is 4-0 at home, but just 1-1-1 away from Slugger. Are there worries about going on the road at this point in the season?
S’sH: On the road this season we have scored two goals and conceded two, while at home we have scored eight and given up two, so to your point, there is concern. We will have to adjust our tactics and really just get a few breaks. The effort in the team is without question, these boys work for each other. We know we have one of the best gaffers in the league in James O’Connor, who just picked up the USL Coach of the Month award in April. It feels like we just need one of those games where we break out and score three or four on the road and life will become easier. As you know, we have a very supportive fan base here in Louisville, so the boys always prefer to play in front of the home crowd. However, your club have only had two games at home and five on the road, so we know Nashville will enjoy getting more comfortable on their home turf, so we will have a big challenge on Sunday.
FCAC: Who would be considered the team MVP through the first 7 games? Who needs to step it up going forward?
S’sH: I think we could look at three players as the MVP so far this season. Cameron Lancaster has scored four goal in five appearances, which is a very quality return. He also just picked up USL Player of the Month. Oscar Jimenez leads us with 18 chances created in seven appearances. We always feel like we have a chance with Greg Ranjitsingh in goal. Greg has kept three clean sheets and saved 13 of 17 shots faced this season, but it’s also his leadership from the back that is a major influence in the style of our play.
This team last year had an incredible feat by the end of the season with every player in the squad scoring at least one goal, which is amazing! With that being said, it’s really in our team’s DNA to have everyone contributing and to that idea, I think we need more players getting it in the back of the net instead of relying on Cameron’s goals and Oscar’s creativity.
FCAC: Lineup prediction?
S’sH: This is a tough one, because Coach O’Connor keeps his cards close to his vest regarding who might be playing but also and maybe more importantly who might be hurting. We have three matches in seven daysstarting with you on Sunday, an Open Cup match on Wednesday we will play at the University of Louisville stadium and then back to Slugger Field to host Atlanta United FC II on Saturday. It’s really going to be about managing the squad during this crunch period. About all I can guess is that I expect Greg Ranjitsingh in goal and James O’Connor to be on the sidelines!
FCAC: Any other specific predictions (including a final score)?
S’sH: We know we have a big test this Sunday in Nashville and your club will be up for it. Our loss last week to Indy was our first loss in 251 days dating all the way back to August 27th of 2017 when we lost to Orlando. My hope is that the boys in purple will come out with a point to prove as defending champs, but it still has to be won on the pitch. Prediction: 1-2 in favor of LouCity FC with Niall McCabe and Cameron Lancaster getting on the score sheet.
Many thanks to Kenny for his time. Check out Scouse’s House and their podcast on Twitter for more on LCFC.