Youthful, diverse squad eager to hit the ground running in LSC's debut campaign | Image Credit: Lexington SC
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Not since the Lexington Bluegrass Bandits' 1995 USISL season has Lexington, Ky. had a professional soccer team to call its own. Nearly 30 years later, Lexington SC will change that as the expansion side opens its inaugural season in Knoxville on March 18. LSC will be led by Sporting Director and Head Coach Sam Stockley whose playing career has seen him suit up with Colchester United FC, Wycombe Wanderers FC, Ferencvárosi TC and North Carolina FC, among others. LSC will rely largely on a promising yet untested group of youngsters eager to prove themselves in their first season – mirroring the aspirations of the club as a whole.
Lexington is young; more than half of its roster announced thus far is made up of players entering either their first or second seasons as professionals. LSC will be hoping it bagged a hidden gem capable of a breakout first-professional season much like Greenville experienced with Jacob Labovitz or Omaha saw with Joe Brito and Noe Meza a season ago. That’s certainly possible, and with young players like talented South African Philakahle Dlamini, 2022 League One champion Owen Green, FC Dallas Academy standout Jalen James and 2018 USL League Two Best XI member Tate Robertson, nothing is out of the question.
Stockley’s side will rely on the leadership of its handful of veterans, namely NASL and USL League One veteran midfielder Don Smart, Jamaican international goalkeeper Amal Knight, and the former FC Tucson tandem of Kaelon Fox and Charlie Machell. With a youthful and diverse squad composed of players from North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, it will be interesting to see who steps up this season to etch their name into Lexington soccer history.
Kaelon Fox | Image Credit: FC Tucson
Fittingly serving as Lexington SC’s first-ever signing, Louisville, Ky. native and former Kentucky Wildcat, Kaelon Fox, is set to return to Lexington in 2023. Following his collegiate career at Kentucky and Saint Francis, Fox opted for an overseas move and made his professional debut with Völsungur ÍF in the 2019 edition of Iceland’s domestic cup competition. After making just four appearances with third division Völsungur and second division Þór Akureyri between 2019 and 2020 in Iceland, the defender returned to the United States with FC Tucson in 2021. Fox enjoyed a career resurgence in League One and was named Tucson's Player of the Year in 2021 and captain in 2022 as he accumulated 55 appearances, two goals and two assists with the club.
Don Smart | Image Credit: Greenville Triumph SC
Easily the most experienced member of Lexington’s inaugural squad, Don Smart signed with LSC following a productive two-year stint in Greenville which saw the 35-year-old Jamaican midfielder score five times and dish out four assists across two seasons to lead Triumph SC to the 2021 League One Final. In 2022, Smart finished 15th in the league with his 38 chances created and ninth with 49 tackles. Prior to his time in Greenville, the Kingston, Jamaica native spent the entirety of his professional career in the United States with USL and NASL clubs Indy Eleven, Forward Madison FC, FC New York and Fresno FC. No stranger to first-year clubs, Smart has now been a part of five different clubs during their respective inaugural seasons.