By Quin Welch, LouCity Insider
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In Louisville City FC’s first season, coach James O’Connor’s squad did a great job of holding a strong throughout the midfield while controlling play and possession. With several key returners and more exciting new signings, LouCity looks impressive in the middle of the pitch yet again heading into 2016.
LouCity made opposing defenses nervous all through Year 1 due in large part to its impressive play on the wings. Although O’Connor’s offensive system encourages fullbacks to get forward and create chances, the attacking wings play a huge part in the offense.
Kadeem Dacres showed that in 2015, scoring six goals — good for third most on the team. During the 2016 preseason, Dacres continued showing his ability to put the ball in the back of the net. The Rosedale, N.Y., native scored against the University of Kentucky in a, 3-0, victory and had the match-winner against the University of Louisville. Dacres has never been one to shy away from taking a shot (he took 52 last season), so don’t expect that to change any time soon.
Another wing that added to the score sheet was second-year LouCity midfielder Niall McCabe. McCabe played in all but one of the 28 USL games in 2015 and came on as a substitute in 11 of them. The Irishman was a road warrior, scoring all four of his goals away from Slugger Field. In last season’s match against Toronto FC II, McCabe scored the match-winner in the second half.
O’Connor signed two new players to play out wide for 2016: University of Kentucky alumnus and All-USL selection George Davis IV and trialist-turned signee Kyle Smith.
Davis is a savvy USL veteran who’s shown what he can do over the years. In his three seasons with the Richmond Kickers, Davis scored 19 goals in 53 matches. In addition to his scoring, GD4 can cross the ball quite well. He had an assist against his alma mater off a corner kick and has been one of LouCity’s go-to-guys when it comes to taking set pieces.
Smith, a former Transylvania University Pioneer, has impressed many after making it through open tryouts, invitational camp and preseason at IMG Academy and signing a contract with Louisville City. The Cincinnati native looked particularly impressive against Indy Eleven on Saturday in the preseason finale, pushing forward and giving the NASL side a rough time. O’Connor has played Smith both as a wing and as a right back, so it should be interesting to see where Smith will spend the majority of his time.
The central area of the midfield was another strength for Louisville City in 2015, and it looks to be quite stout again, both defensively and offensively.
One player that has proven to be solid both defensively and offensively is returner Guy Abend. Abend is an enforcer in the defensive midfield and will make a hard tackle if necessary. However, he’s quite creative and knows where to be at the right time. Against Kentucky, Abend paired up with Kadeem Dacres on a give-and-go in the right side of the box, allowing Dacres to score. Look for Abend to be everywhere on the field against Charlotte, per usual.
If you’re looking for potential for a spectacle, look no further than Abend’s fellow midfielder, Aodhan Quinn. It’s pretty safe to say that most LouCity supporters have seen Quinn’s 2015 golazo against Tulsa last season. Well, we’re here to tell you that Quinn is on free kick duty again this season, and he’s looked quite dangerous in City’s four preseason friendlies. In addition to free kicks, Quinn will pair with Abend in making sure LouCity controls the midfield.
Magnus Rasmussen rounds out the returning midfielders. While he’s last of the three, he’s certainly not least. Rasmussen was a massive part of LouCity’s inaugural season success, scoring six goalsand tying with Dacres for third most on the team. On top of his scoring, the Dane also dished out an impressive four assists, making him an even bigger threat when he has the ball. Look for Rasmussen to continue to terrify USL defenders in 2016.
Mark-Anthony Kaye and former Louisville Cardinal Paolo DelPiccolo were O’Connor’s central midfielder signings during the offseason. O’Connor signed Kaye after the Toronto native spent 2015 with his hometown Toronto FC II. Throughout the preseason, Kaye displayed impressive dribbling skills that will give USL defenses trouble all year long. Against Kentucky, Kaye showed off his impeccable passing by weaving a perfect through ball to striker Chandler Hoffman could put it past the goalkeeper.
DelPiccolo, the University of Louisville’s all-time assists leader, has also looked great during the preseason. The Colorado native has looked tough in the central midfield area and has created chances off his magical left foot, through both the run of play and on free kicks. Saturday’s matchup against Charlotte should be an interesting one for DelPiccolo, as he spent the 2015 season with the Independence.
O’Connor has structured his midfield quite well with speed, strength and creativity. The second-year coach will certainly hope to get the best of his talented players in their first USL game of the season against Charlotte and the Ramblewood Soccer Complex in Charlotte on Saturday at 7 p.m.
LouCity then returns to Louisville Slugger Field on April 2 to host New York Red Bulls II in the home opener, with a special 3 p.m. kickoff.
Fans can stay up to date with all of Louisville City’s breaking news, roster updates and ticketing information by following the Club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Season tickets are available for Louisville City’s historic second season via the Club’s official website.