Coming off a 2020 season full of highs and lows, Louisville City FC has had a busy off-season making important roster decisions in hopes to find their way back into another championship match in 2021. Lou City has become known for their relatively stable roster, all while maintaining their status as one of the premier clubs in the USL. As consistent as their roster might be, offseason turnover is inevitable. Some players may leave to seek a better compensation package or more playing time, while others are deemed not part of the club’s future vision. While there is still some time remaining before pre-season activities begin, it appears that the club has made most of the moves they are going to make this off-season. Below is a recap of the club’s roster moves:
- Luke Spencer – Not long after Lou City’s 2020 season, Luke made the tough decision to hang up his boot and call it a career. The beloved striker made 104 appearances over four years in the USL. A new chapter of his professional career awaits him, as he will join the academy to help teach the next crop of Louisville talent.
- Devon “Speedy” Williams – After four seasons and two trophies, Speedy has moved on. The 2020 All-League First Team selection has taken his talents down south to Miami FC. His departure leaves some big shoes to fill in the Louisville City starting eleven.
- Ben Lundt – The Berlin Wall’s time in Louisville has ended. His league-leading nine clean sheets and USL Championship’s Goalkeeper of the Year have resulted in FC Cincinnati picking up his contract option. While he will be missed, the Lou City fan base will be excited for him to get an opportunity in the MLS.
- Jimmy Ockford – The former Nashville defender was the last off-season’s big signing. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work out for either party. Jimmy only featured in the starting eleven for the first few matches of the season when Lou City was on the proverbial struggle bus. City later found their rhythm with Ockford on the bench making the occasional substitute appearance. It’s off to the Switchbacks for the 2021 season to get his career back on track.
- Jason Johnson – Johnson was an exciting acquisition for the 2020 season, however, he struggled to break into the starting eleven. This is not as much due to his play, but rather due to stiff competition. The former Phoenix man will look for a new start elsewhere for 2021.
- Kenney Walker – Kenney was a very late 2020 loan acquisition. The aging midfielder came down from Indy XI to help provide some depth for the team. Unfortunately, he made no appearances for the club. While many speculated there might have been a long-term thought with the move given his University of Louisville roots, but that does not appear to be the case as will not be joining the team in 2021.
- Arda Bulut – In late 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty about the collegiate playing situation. Bulut used it as an opportunity to kick off his professional career. While he may have gained some valuable experience surrounding himself in an atmosphere of success, he will look elsewhere to continue his playing career.
- Tyler Gibson – Tyler is heading down south to join the right side of the LIPAFC rivalry for 2021. He appears to be the answer to Speedy’s absence. Big shoes to fill, like stated above, but he is the caliber of signing needed to help fill that roster void.
- Jimmy McLaughlin –To long-time FC Cincy fan’s dismay, their fan-favorite is heading south to join Lou City in 2021. Coming back from a long-term injury, Jimmy joining the competition for the forward role backfilling for Luke Spencer. His arrival will see him reuniting with Hoppenot and Bone.
- Simon Lefebvre – With Ben gone, there is little depth for the keeper position. In comes the 6’9” Frenchman, Simon, the Eiffel Tower. The former Loudoun United player has not been guaranteed the starting job and will duke it out with Chris Hubbard in the pre-season.
- Elijah Wynder* – Okay, so Elijah has been with the squad for the past two seasons just as an academy player. He is listed here as he signed his first full professional deal. Elijah will forego a collegiate playing career to play for Louisville City! Quite the testament to the team, isn’t it?
- Cameron Lancaster – There were a lot of nervous fans carefully watching the Cam situation. He was with Lou City on loan from Nashville last season, but with his contract set to expire; it was unknown if he would see an offer from another MLS club. Thankfully, not only did he opt to sign with Lou City, but he chose to sign a multi-year contract with the club (that is, two years minimum guaranteed). Big sigh of relief being able to retain the First Team All-League striker.
- Napo Matsoso – The exciting University of Kentucky product has also agreed to a multiyear contract with Lou City. Napo’s thrilling play as a winger last season captured the attention of fans and will do so for years to come.
So there are all the moves in brief. With the dust now settling on Louisville City’s off-season activity, here is how the roster shaping up for 2021:
- Goalkeeper – Chris Hubbard, Simon Lefebvre
- Defender – Wes Charpie, Jonathan Gomez, Oscar Jimenez, Pat McMahon, Alexis Souahy, Sean Totsch, Akil Watts
- Midfielder – Corben Bone, George Davis IV, Tyler Gibson, Paolo DelPiccolo, Napo Matsoso, Niall McCabe, Elijah Wynder
- Forward – Antoine Hoppenot, Cameron Lancaster, Jimmy McLaughlin, Brian Ownby, Abdou Thiam
Many familiar faces along with several exciting new ones. There is one additional transfer move that will interest the fans of Morados; Paco Craig will make his return to the USL! He last played for Louisville City in 2019 before trying his luck back home in England. COVID derailed those plans and left him out of the game for the 2020 season. His return stateside will see him joining Speedy down in Miami. Both are talented players with a history of success. They will be a team to watch in the East for the 2021 season.
While the details for the 2021 season have yet to be determined (we should hear more after the winter meetings later in January), there has been speculation that the start may not be until May and could likely take a different form than the group format we saw in 2020. Nothing official yet, so it is a topic to follow. Whenever the next season kicks off and however it is formatted, Louisville City appears poised to be a favorite in the East yet again. Will their streak of Eastern Conference Finals appearances continue? Only time will tell. Can’t wait to see you all back in Lynn Family Stadium! Until then, stay safe! Vamos Morados!