Scouting Report: Kevin Kelsy

Photo by Scott Huck.

Teenage Venezuelan striker Kevin Kelsy arrived in the Queen City on loan with a purchase option from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. Fans will hope that Kelsy can finally replace some of what was lost when FCC sold Brandon Vazquez to Liga MX side Monterrey in the offseason. Coach Gough scouted Kelsy to find out.

The Player

Kevin Kelsy is a 6’4″ left-footed center forward. The 19-year-old comes on loan to MLS after signing at Shakhtar for a reported one million euro fee from Uruguayan side Boston River in January of 2023. After featuring in the group stages of the Champions League for Shakhtar, he has found playing time in the Ukrainian Premier Liga difficult to come by. Kelsy has played a significant role for the Venezuelan U23 national team and is rated as a high-upside prospect.


Kevin Kelsy fits the mold of a target forward. Not only does he have the size to compete with any central defender, but he also looks like he enjoys the physicality. His holdup play can be described as aggressive. He seeks contact with the defender and then tries to bully the ball into submission before trying to keep the ball while bulldozing through the opposition. He displays excellent balance through contact and is effective once he gets the ball under control.

Kelsy also displays supreme athleticism. He is quick for his size and can generate good power on headers, even when the ball is floated in, or he is moving away from goal. He is also an exuberant presser defensively. He will run around and harry the opponent, even if his pressing angles aren’t particularly effective. Finally, in Kelsy, Coach Pat Noonan will have a player who won’t need to be reminded to stay forward. This kid loves to occupy central defenders. He will check back to the ball to link play when necessary but would rather be running the channels or receiving the ball as the spearhead of an attack.


To say that Kevin Kelsy “bullies” the ball into the ground can be an understatement. The Venezuelan teenager doesn’t have soft feet. His first touch isn’t terrible but is more about trapping the ball and getting it under control than receiving it. This means that when the ball is fired into his feet or is bouncing it often ricochets off of him and straight back to the defense. Kelsy is also a teenager and plays that way at times. He often makes runs that look like he’s more concerned about staying active than about getting into a good position. Furthermore, when a veteran might try and kill off a game or draw a foul in the dying moments, Kelsy doesn’t always make the right decision.

What The Data Shows 

Nate Gilman here, dropping this section in to give FCC supporters as complete a view of Kelsy as we can, meaning a quick dive into the numbers. Unlike many U22 prospects, Kelsy will come to the Queen City with good production albeit in limited minutes across league and European competition minutes.

Per Wyscout, Kelsy averaged 0.48 xG per 90 minutes across all competitions in his career. In nearly 600 minutes this season across the Ukrainian top flight, the Ukrainian Cup and the UEFA Champions League, Kelsy put up a wildly impressive 0.6 xG/90. His shot chart from this season indicates an ability to find the ball in dangerous spots, a key aspect of all good strikers’ games.

An important caveat is that most of Kelsy’s minutes this year have come off the bench, giving him the opportunity to attack tired defenses or to chase games: two situations that can inflate attacking players’ numbers. Longtime readers will remember similar conversations about how production off the bench can translate across more starts before Brandon Vazquez’s true breakout.

Though the Ukraine Premier League ranks lower in UEFA rankings than leagues Chris Albright has shown interest in (see: Turkey, Czechia), Kelsy’s upside and youth make him a different proposition than previous acquisitions. Albright has looked to mine mid-tier European domestic leagues for plug-and-play starters. Though Kelsy arrives from a worse league, the fact that he’s held his own and put up very promising numbers in minimal minutes as a 19-year-old makes the deal worth whatever risk there is. Another minimization of risk is that the deal is a loan with an option to buy.

The Verdict

Kevin Kelsy almost certainly won’t light up the league in 2o24. The combination of his youthfulness, taking time to settle into a new team in a new country and his raw technical ability will hamper his statistical contribution. However, when he plays, his physical presence at the head of the attack should create a lot of space for Lucho Acosta and Co. to operate just in front of the opposition’s back line. Furthermore, even if he isn’t scoring goals or getting assists, he will most assuredly be an outlet for long passes that just need a touch before the Orange and Blue attempt to win the second ball.

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