By Quin Welch, LouCity Insider
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville City FC begins its second-ever season on Saturday at the Charlotte Independence. Through four preseason friendlies without a loss, LouCity’s new-look roster — featuring 13 returners from the historic 2015 season and 10 newcomers — outscored opponents 9-0.
The Club’s inaugural season produced a second-best finish in the regular season Eastern Conference table, a Eastern Conference final appearance, the league’s most goals scored and fifth-fewest allowed.
Coach James O’Connor’s 2016 team is now prepared to take the field with a goal of exceeding 2015’s results.
LouCity was fortunate to return its two goalkeepers from its historic inaugural season: Greg Ranjitsingh and Scott Goodwin.
Goodwin, who appeared in 27 games for the Club last season, was one of the USL’s most reliable keepers. The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel finished fourth in the league in saves with 87 and fifth for most shutouts with eight. Goodwin also saved an impressive 73.1 percent of shots on goal last season. Look for Goodwin to continue to impress in 2016 and remain one of the most respected goalies in the USL.
Ranjitsingh started one game for LouCity last season and played in the second half in a friendly against Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC. The Canadian has played substantially throughout preseason and has impressed, so LouCity supporters should not be surprised to see Ranjitsingh carry a heavier load in 2016.
With Ranjitsingh and Goodwin, LouCity appears to be in good hands when it comes to goalkeeper.
In 2015, Louisville City allowed the fifth fewest goals in the USL, an impressive achievement for a new club.
O’Connor returns several key pieces from the stout defensive unit that troubled USL attacking forces all season long.
Conor Shanosky returns at center back for LouCity after leading the team’s defenders in scoring last season with three goals. He reminded LouCity supporters of his ability to score when he smashed in two goals against Southern Illinois Edwardsville in the preseason opener. The former D.C. United man has been a regular for LouCity this preseason, so fans should expect to continue to see Shanosky during the 2016 campaign.
Like Shanosky, Tarek Morad was a fixture in the LouCity starting XI last season, starting 26 games and providing solid defense throughout the season. Morad also provided an aerial threat on corner kicks, as the Californian scored two in 2015. Like Shanosky, Morad scored off a set piece against SIUE in LouCity’s 4-0 victory. Morad will also likely feature prominently in O’Connor’s team.
Sean Reynolds, who played in the Europa League with Icelandic club FH-Ingor, found his way into O’Connor’s regular 2015 squad as the season progressed. The Florida native’s biggest moment in 2015 was a goal-saving tackle against the Charleston Battery in the Eastern Conference semifinals. During the 2016 preseason, Reynolds has looked impressive, passing from the back and creating chances for attackers up front.
O’Connor was also able to return full back Enrique Montano, who appeared in 23 matches last season. Montano is a perfect fit for O’Connor’s attack-minded system, as the Salinas, Calif., native was able to get forward and dish out a whopping six assists as a defender in 2015.
In addition to LouCity’s returning defenders, O’Connor signed three new faces for the 2016 season, and they all look able to contribute.
Jongyun Son, a Holy Cross College alumnus and South Korean youth national team product, has drawn attention during the preseason with his ability to both get forward and track back. Son assisted the only (and match-winning) goal against Indy Eleven on Saturday and also looks like a great fit for O’Connor’s system.
Son is joined by former Colorado Rapid, Ben Newnam. Newnam, who played collegiately at Wake Forest, brings a wealth of experience to the LouCity defense. He spent 2015 with the Rapids, along with the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charlotte Independence. Newnam is a fierce defender who battles on each play, and — like Son — likes to get forward and create chances.
Paco Craig was the final defender signed for LouCity in 2016 after impressing O’Connor during February’s preseason camp at IMG Academy. Craig, who was a member of West Ham United’s youth academy as a boy, will compete for playing time after a stellar career at Young Harris College.
All in all, Louisville City should have another quality back four and goalkeeper contingent after adding depth and ability. With the returning players and the additions made in the offseason, O’Connor has a good problem on his hands: He has to pick four guys out of a very talented pool of defenders. That bodes well for LouCity as the Club heads into its second season.
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.
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.