Lexington Sporting Club names new head coach after first season in USL League One

Lexington Sporting Club has announced the next manager set to lead the franchise’s senior men’s professional team.

On Friday afternoon, LSC announced Darren Powell as the new head coach of Lexington’s team in USL League One, the third tier of American men’s pro soccer.

A native of Nottingham, England, Powell was most recently the director of player development and a first-team assistant coach for Inter Miami CF of Major League Soccer.

In addition, Powell has served as the head coach for Inter Miami’s lower-league affiliate team, and he also spent time as the academy director for MLS club Orlando City and as the head coach for San Antonio FC of the USL Championship, the division above USL League One.

“I am really grateful and thankful for the opportunity,” Powell said in a news release. “We are really excited to be in Lexington and looking forward to meeting with the players. We have been meeting with the staff and getting to know them, and everyone has been super welcoming. Soon, we can meet with the fans and engage with the supporters that seem very passionate about Lexington soccer and obviously want to grow that support during the coming months.”

Darren Powell is the new head coach of Lexington Sporting Club’s senior men’s team. The team plays in USL League One, the third tier of American men’s professional soccer.
Darren Powell is the new head coach of Lexington Sporting Club’s senior men’s team. The team plays in USL League One, the third tier of American men’s professional soccer.

Last month, LSC wrapped up play in its debut season in USL League One: Lexington Sporting Club finished ninth in the 12-team standings with a record of 7-14-11 (W-L-D) and 32 points.

The club finished 11 points out of sixth place, the final playoff spot in the league.

Sam Stockley — who serves as the club’s men’s sporting director — was also LSC’s head coach for most of the 2023 season. In September, Stockley left only the head coaching role and Nacho Novo, previously an assistant coach under Stockley, took over as the interim head coach for the final five matches of the season.

“He’s got all the key attributes to be able to develop us and move us forward,” Stockley said in the news release about Powell. “He’s going to help develop everybody within the football club, and that’s what we’re looking for. Darren fits our culture of who we are and what we are trying to do with our identity, but also have that ability to push us forward.”

LSC was eliminated from playoff contention Sept. 23, with three matches still to play in the regular season.

“We’re going to have to get better,” Bill Shively, Lexington Sporting Club’s majority owner, told the Herald-Leader last month. “This was our inaugural season, we learned a lot and this thing is a process, it’s going to take us awhile, but I really will continue to try to push the envelope and make sure that the club improves year after year.”

On the pitch, Lexington Sporting Club did have several standout individual performers this season, despite missing the playoffs.

Midfielder Ates Diouf led the team with 15 goals, a top-three mark among all players in the league.

Goalkeeper Amal Knight, who was recently called up to represent the Jamaican National Team, recorded 79 saves this season, including several that helped LSC earn results late in matches.

Lexington Sporting Club midfielder Don Smart celebrates after scoring a penalty kick goal during a USL League One match against Chattanooga last summer. LSC finished ninth in the 12-team league in 2023.
Lexington Sporting Club midfielder Don Smart celebrates after scoring a penalty kick goal during a USL League One match against Chattanooga last summer. LSC finished ninth in the 12-team league in 2023.

New LSC coach excelled in college game

Prior to his time in American professional soccer, Powell was a standout collegiate coach.

Powell was the head coach of the Elon University men’s team from 2005 to 2013, and is a member of that school’s hall of fame.

Across nine seasons coaching the Phoenix, Powell compiled a 94-68-23 record. Under Powell, Elon made the NCAA Tournament in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The all-time coaching wins leader in Elon men’s soccer history, Powell also played college soccer in the United States at UNC-Greensboro.

Following his college career, Powell played professional soccer in the Carolinas.

Midfielder Ates Diouf led Lexington Sporting Club with 15 goals in the team’s inaugural season.
Midfielder Ates Diouf led Lexington Sporting Club with 15 goals in the team’s inaugural season.

New coach, stadium among offseason news for LSC

In addition to announcing a new head coach for its senior men’s team, Lexington Sporting Club has had some big news of late when it comes to a home stadium.

Last month, LSC announced it will build a permanent, soccer-specific stadium off Athens Boonesboro Road, near Interstate 75 in Lexington. The stadium will be adjacent to Lexington Sporting Club’s existing youth sports fields at the same location, and is expected to be completed in time for LSC’s first season in the USL Super League, a new professional women’s soccer league that will start play in August 2024.

According to LSC officials, the stadium will initially feature more than 5,000 seats with the ability to expand to 11,000. Shively said a ballpark figure for stadium investment is $30 million. Incentives from the city also seem likely for LSC as part of the stadium-building process.

Lexington Sporting Club spent its first season playing USL League One and USL W-League matches at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown, a 5,000-seat venue that also hosts the football, lacrosse and soccer teams for Georgetown College, an NAIA school located about 13 miles north of Lexington.

A rendering of the area surrounding the planned Lexington Sporting Club stadium shows how the complex will include the practice fields already under construction for the club’s youth soccer teams. In its 16 home matches at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown this season, Lexington Sporting Club drew a total reported attendance of 35,717 fans.
A rendering of the area surrounding the planned Lexington Sporting Club stadium shows how the complex will include the practice fields already under construction for the club’s youth soccer teams. In its 16 home matches at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown this season, Lexington Sporting Club drew a total reported attendance of 35,717 fans.