LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville City FC finalized it’s opening day roster on Monday with the signing of three players who have been on trial with the club for several weeks — including the 13-day preseason camp at IMG Academy in February.
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Forward Kenny Doublette, central defender Paco Craig, and midfielder Kyle Smith earned 2016 contracts after catching coach James O’Connor’s eye through the Club’s Open Tryouts in December and trialist camp in January.
“We are thrilled to have Kenny, Kyle and Paco all join,” O’Connor said. “They have all come through the preseason and each have warranted a contract with us. It will take time for them to get used to the speed of play and intensity, but all three have a willingness to learn which is important.”
Doublette, a 6-foot-2 striker who came to the U.S. from Haiti in 2007, won the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championship with Southern New Hampshire. That team that finished 22-1-1. It was just a part of distinguished collegiate career for Doublette.
“Since I was a kid, I dreamed of playing soccer professionally,” Doublette said. “Soccer was a valuable outlet for me while growing up in Haiti, occupying my time and giving me direction as a youngster.
“I never had a father growing up, I never asked who he is and to this day still I do not know. However, one day I hope he watches me on television and is proud of me. Being able to have this great opportunity of playing at Louisville City is a dream come true. I am extremely grateful and I feel blessed for this opportunity.”
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The Haitian finished his three years at SNHU with 23 goals and 13 assists after transferring from the University of Rio Grande. In his final season of collegiate soccer, Doublette led his team to a NCAA Regional final, hitting the back of the net 15 times in 20 games. Doublette also played with NPSL side, Seacoast United while in college.
Doublette was a standout in LouCity’s offseason trialist camp back in early February.
Smith’s journey to Louisville City started back in December when the Transylvania University alumnus attended LouCity’s open tryouts. When the Club hosted the open-tryout on Dec. 19, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native got the attention O’Connor and his technical staff.
Smith was invited to the trialist camp in February. Smith made his presence known and rose above the large group of trialists during the four days at the Springstreet Indoor Facility in New Albany, Ind.
“Signing with Louisville City FC, my first professional contract, is a dream come true,” Smith said. “I’ve been working hard to try to make it to the professional level and the hard work has paid off.
“I am excited to play with a group of high caliber players, to learn from the best coaching staff, and to be apart of an organization that has plans for a great future.”
Smith scored 18 goals, five of them being game winners, and also dished out eight assists in his final season with Transylvania University. After a quality career playing NCAA Division III NCAA soccer where Smith was named the HCAC Offensive MVP in 2012, the forward sets his sights on an professional playing career.
“I look forward to playing in front of passionate fans that show unbelievable enthusiasm for the team,” Smith said. “I also feel extremely blessed for this opportunity because I know many people do not get the chance to play soccer for a living.”
Craig started his career playing in West Ham’s youth academy. After his time with the Premier League club’s youth squad, Craig moved to the U.S. to play collegiate soccer with Young Harris College while playing for PDL side Ocala Stampede in the summer — playing alongside current LouCity forward Ilija Ilic. Midfielder Niall McCabe also played with Craig and Ilic at Young Harris.
Craig, a 6-foot-2 junior defender, was named to the NSCAA All-America team for the third consecutive year in 2015. Craig became only the second Peach Belt Conference player to win the PBC Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year awards during his career.
The London, England, native was also a leader on a defense that led the Peach Belt with seven shutouts and finished second in the league with 22 goals allowed and a 1.04 goals-against average.
“This step up means the world to me as I have always wanted to play on the professional level,” Craig said. “Seeing how well Louisville City did last year, on top of this season’s goals, I am really excited to be joining this team.”
In three seasons, Craig scored 17 goals, assisted on 14 others for 48 points in 57 career matches.
While with the Ocala Stampede, Craig helped his team win the Southeast Conference of the Premier Development League and was named to the 2015 All-Conference team.
The three new signings brings the total roster count to 23 for the 2016 season.
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Entering 2016, Louisville City FC has returned 13 players from the 2015 roster — including reigning USL Goal of the Season winner Aodhan Quinn and former English Premier League striker Cameron Lancaster. New additions include MLS Cup-winning forward Chandler Hoffman, University of Louisville alumnus Paolo DelPiccolo and University of Kentucky alumnus George Davis IV.
Louisville City FC begins regular season play on March 26 at Charlotte Independence. 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.
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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.