Former MLS SuperDraft selection Luke Spencer, a Xavier University legend who impressed last month at Louisville City FC’s invitation tryout, has signed on with the club for 2017.
Spencer played last season for United Soccer League rival FC Cincinnati in his hometown. Terms of his contract with LouCity, which is pending USSF approval, were not disclosed.
“I first noticed Luke last year we were at IMG Academy for preseason,” said Coach James O’Connor. “He’s someone who we’ve kept an eye on since then. He didn’t get a lot of playing time in 2016, but we think he’s got great attributes. He showed that in the invitation tryout.
“He’s got great desire and character, which is part of the criteria we’re looking for, and we think he’s very capable. I’m delighted to have him on board.”
Spencer logged 64 minutes in 11 USL appearances last season as a backup to Sean Okoli, who led the league in scoring and was named Most Valuable Player. This year, Spencer will battle for more playing time on a LouCity roster with two other strikers: returning players Cameron Lancaster and Ilija Ilic.
“You might have to move around a little bit, but it’s worth it when you find the right place,” the 26-year-old said. “James is an intense coach. He’s going to get the most out of you and everyone else on the field.”
“Luke gives us another option,” O’Connor added. “He’s different from Cameron and Ilija, which I think is important. He’s probably more of an attacking forward. This gives us three strikers with different strengths.”
Spencer tallied 29 goals and 21 assists during his college career, drawing attention from MLS scouts. His 14 goals as a senior led the Atlantic 10 Conference, and Xavier advanced into the second round of the NCAA tournament thanks to Spencer’s 85th-minute game-winner scored against the University of Kentucky.
The striker went on to become the program’s first SuperDraft pick when taken 23rd by the New England Revolution. Though a knee injury prevented Spencer from signing at the MLS level, he joined FC Cincinnati’s inaugural class after a year spent on Xavier’s coaching staff.
Spencer brings LouCity’s roster to 19 players as players prepare to leave Sunday for two weeks of preseason training at Florida’s IMG Academy. Upon returning, LouCity has scheduled four exhibition games before its USL opener set for March 25 against Saint Louis FC at Louisville Slugger Field.
Spencer said he’s in particular looking forward to an April 22 return home for the first game in this year’s River Cities Cup rivalry with FC Cincinnati.
“I have a lot of friends on the other team, so we’re already talking back and forth,” he said. “Getting a chance to play them three times should be fun.”