First day of tryouts gets the ball rolling for Louisville City F - WDRB 41 Louisville News

First day of tryouts gets the ball rolling for Louisville City FC

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Coach James O'Connor speaks to the players after the first day of tryouts. Coach James O'Connor speaks to the players after the first day of tryouts.
Team trainer Scott Ritter, with Baptist Health, looks on. Team trainer Scott Ritter, with Baptist Health, looks on.
The tryouts will continue Sunday morning at 9 a.m. The tryouts will continue Sunday morning at 9 a.m.
Some players were local, others were brought in from across the country and few are international. Some players were local, others were brought in from across the country and few are international.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - One could argue the first ball has been kicked for Louisville City FC. The minor league soccer team, which won't start play at Louisville Slugger Field until March, held its first invitational tryouts Saturday morning.

It was part one of a set of two-day scrimmages featuring amateur players from all over. More than 150 people sent in applications, and 74 were invited to try out, but making the team won't be easy. 

Head coach James O'Connor has his eyes set on a few national signings already and will scout some free-agents during a pro combine Saturday afternoon. The goal is to have a roster built by the anticipated start of preseason on Feb. 16.

Coaches from local clubs and schools turned out to scout talent and a handful of spectators turned out to show support. 

“There's so many that have given up their time,” O'Connor said during a break. “For us to have that support has been great.”

The team will sign 18 players, so not many of those trying out will see a contract, but it's still an opportunity many were eager to seize.

“We'll look at them today," O'Connor said. "We'll analyze them and go through, we'll look at them further on and if they do really well they'll be invited into training."

He says the team will have more training camps to look at the players they are interested in before the start of preseason. 

Former Bellarmine University midfielder Dan Schiavi says he's looking for a pro contract and he hopes it's with Louisville City.

"I love Louisville and I'm looking for a pro contract," Schiavi said. “I love the city of Louisville and I really want to stay here."

He's finishing his senior year at Bellarmine and says he hopes to be training with the team in the spring. Schiavi is originally from Bourne, England, and he's hoping the five goals he scored on the first day will help his case for a pro contract. 

"It'd be huge, it would be absolutely massive," Schiavi said. "I've wanted to be a pro player my whole life." 

He'll finishing his degree in exercise science this year but he hopes his soccer career will continue.

"I've got the spring season to train with the team and if I don't get a pro contract anywhere that'll be it," he said.

Meanwhile, the club's front office members were winding down after a hectic Friday, having just sold the club's first season tickets. A special presale for those who put down early deposits kicked off Friday. President Djorn Buchholz and his staff spent the day ensuring the first sales went smoothly, fielding calls and questions from their early purchasers.

Also getting in action on the sidelines were Louisville City's newest allies from Baptist Health. The club signed a partnership with the healthcare provider recently, and the team's trainer Scott Ritter got his first action at the tryouts.

He didn't have to deal with anything too catastrophic Saturday morning. “Mostly ankle taping, a bloody nose,” he said.

Ritter will be at Louisville City's practices and games keeping an eye out for the player's health, starting with preseason training in February.

That's when O'Connor says he hopes to have players ready to fill into his attacking style of play and the community gearing up for an exciting season.

“We want to play strong, attacking football, and that's what we're looking for out of these players,” he said.

For now, he'll sit down with the local club coaches and go through what they saw Saturday morning. They'll return Sunday morning, looking to narrow their focus.

"There's been some good talent that showed and some good goals, so we're pleased," O'Connor said.

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