Louisville City FC star striker and league MVP Matt Fondy has left the club to move up a division to play for the Jacksonville Armada.
Last year, in the club’s first season, Fondy scored a United Soccer League record 22 goals and added seven assists.
In his move to Jacksonville, Fondy, 26, joins fellow former LouCity FC player Bryan Burke, who left the team in December. Both will be coached by former U.S Men’s National Team and MLS goalkeeper Tony Meola.
While undoubtedly a huge blow for LouCity, coach James O’Connor’s comments hinted at the club expecting the development.
“To see him and his accomplishments was amazing, but that’s always going to garner a lot of attention,” O’Connor said in the press release announcing Fondy’s departure.
The president of LouCity FC’s fan club agreed.
It’s tough to keep a player of Fondy’s caliber, especially if he gets the opportunity to play in a higher division, said Ken Luther, president of the Louisville Coopers.
Fan club member Taylor Sorrels wrote on the fan club’s website that fans feared Fondy’s departure, in part because of his hard work on the pitch and his dedication to the LouCity faithful.
“Fondy leaves us as a club legend, and that’s the way we should look back on him,” Sorrels wrote.
Terms of the agreement between the clubs were not disclosed.
Despite the departures of Fondy, Burke and midfielder Juan Guzman, who left recently to join a first-division team in Colombia, Luther said he believes the club will do well this season, because offseason signings have given the team some needed depth and flexibility.
Last year, the club played primarily with one striker, but with Chandler Hoffman and Cameron Lancaster, coach O’Connor could switch to a two-striker formation, Luther said.
Hoffman joined Louisville City FC in December from Colorado Springs Switchbacks, and Lancaster was injured essentially the entire first season.
Luther said he especially looks forward to seeing Lancaster, who had a short stint in the English Premier League, once getting subbed in for Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor.
“Those are two threats that we didn’t have last year,” Luther said.
And recent signing Paolo DelPiccolo, the all-time assist leader at the University of Louisville, could be the one to set up those two strikers.
In addition, the club will have more players than last year, addressing one of the biggest challenges in its inaugural season: the lack of depth on the bench.
“I think we’re in great shape,” Luther said.
LouCity will play its second season opener March 26 in Charlotte, N.C. and the first home game at 3 p.m. April 2 against the New York Red Bulls II. You can take a look at the full season here.