Soccer In Our Area

Soccer In Our Area: Lexington Sporting Club

Club Background

Lexington Sporting Club is in the second season of their young history. The USL League One club was announced in the fall of 2021. Due to an ambitious plan to create a world-class stadium in the Lexington-Fayette area, the club found a temporary home at Toyota Stadium on the campus of Georgetown College. Cincinnati Bengals fans might remember this stadium, as it was home to the Bengals summer training camp from 1997 to 2012.

Lexington SC finished in ninth place in USL League in their inaugural season with a record of 7-11-14. LSC was coached by former English footballer Sam Stockley in 2023, who has since assumed the sporting director position full-time in 2024. Stockley filled the vacated head coaching position with Darren Powell. Powell has a long coaching resume with US soccer from the collegiate ranks to MLS from 1998 to present day.

The roster is loaded with experienced USL Championship talent. Returning stars for the club are Jamaican international goalkeeper Amal Knight formerly of the San Diego Loyal and 2023 USL League One All-League midfielder Ates Diouf formerly from San Antonio FC. Lexington SC also signed some big stars in the offseason. No signing bigger than former Louisville City forward Cameron Lancaster. Lancaster helped lead Louisville City to back-to-back USL Cup wins in 2017 and 2018. Lancaster is the all-time single-season goal scorer in the USL Championship. Other notable offseason signings include Jayden Onen, Ebenezer Ackon and Jorge Corrales. With the added firepower, it’s no wonder why Lexington SC is the odds-on favorite to win USL League One in 2024.

Planned new stadium off of I-75 exit 104 – PHOTO: Lexington Sporting Club

The Atmosphere

A matchday at Toyota Stadium is a fun, energetic atmosphere. The fans tailgate in the parking lots around the college campus. Gathering around and talking ball with one another can paint a scene quite similar to a Southern college football Saturday. Outside the stadium, street vendors are parked serving up tacos and snow cones. Inside the stadium, there is an impressive team shop where fans can purchase all kinds of LSC-clad Nike apparel. One drawback to the in-stadium atmosphere is the absence of the sale of alcohol, something most Cincinnatians and soccer fans have been accustomed to at typical sporting events. In the stands, you can find a family-friendly lively environment. For this particular match day, the ever-popular University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball team was competing in their conference tournament at the same time as the match kickoff. Coupled with a chilly, misty forecast, you’d excuse a dip in attendance. But there still was a good showing from the LSC fans. The official support group of Lexington SC, the Railbirds, were drumming and waving their flags in their 109 section appropriately nicknamed “The Stables.” 

The Match

Coming off their season-opening 0-0 draw to Northern Colorado Hailstorm, Lexington SC was hungry to secure the first win of the season. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC did not play in Matchday One and was looking to still three points on the road to start their 2024 campaign. But after a thrilling ending, Lexington SC walked out with a 1-0 victory.

The match started off with a considerable amount of stoppage in play. The rainy conditions created a slick playing surface on the turf field, leading to several unplayable passes. The physical nature of both sides was evident early as multiple players hit the deck on hard tackles.

The match opened up in the 18th minute when a Red Wolves’ corner led to Ualefi Dos Reis unleashing a shot from outside the box, requiring Knight to make a save. Shortly after, Red Wolves’ Jonny Filipe tested his luck with a shot but Knight was there again for the save.

Lexington SC’s Jayden Onen made several runs into the box from the left wing between the 31st and 37th minute before moving in centrally for the match’s first best chance. Onen split the defenders and entered the box before delivering a pacing shot that Chattanooga’s keeper TJ Bush did well to save.

The match paused in the 41st minute in observation of Ramadan before play resumed two minutes later. The clubs went to the locker rooms at the half still level 0-0.

Much of the start of the second half was like the first with physical play. In the 55th minute, Chattanooga’s Filipe picked up an injury to his right leg and had to leave the match. An important goal-line intervention was required of LSC center back Kaelon Fox as Ricky Ruiz was able to find space and shoot a low shot at goal in the 66th minute.

The young hometown star Issac Cano made his club debut for Lexington SC in the 72nd minute. Cano was a state champion for Paul Laurence Dunbar HS in 2021. He had previously made Louisville City’s roster before coming back to Lexington on a one-year loan deal.

The scoring breakthrough of the match came in the 79th minute when a set piece lob eventually found Maltese international midfielder Yannick Yankam in the middle of the box. Yankam unleashed a laser shot into the net, giving Bush no chance to make a save.


One of the biggest weaknesses for Lexington SC in 2023 was seeing out results late in matches. With a 1-0 lead LSC, would have to prove the lesson was learned ahead of the 2024 season. In the 87th minute, Knight made a spectacular save off a driving header from the Red Wolves’ Ruiz. In the 95th minute, a nervy session of shots hit the crossbar but still, the Lexington defense did not waver.

“Last season we wouldn’t close out the games properly,” Knight said. “So this season we’ve been working hard defensively. You can see everyone is on point, everyone is working together as a unit. For me and for the team, we just have to keep progressing.”

The final whistle sounded,and Lexington SC collected the home three points. It was all smiles on the field after the match. Russell shared his thoughts after his first win as Lexington SC manager.

“I’m super proud of the players, proud of everybody,” Russell said. “Really happy for everybody involved with the organization. From the fans to the players to the staff that show up and work every day. Hopefully we build on this. I think we can play better than maybe we showed tonight but we managed to get our first win in our second shift of the year.”


Lexington SC: Yankam 79’

Next Match:

US Open Cup – at Vermont Green FC – Tuesday 3/19 7:00p.m. EST –

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