Even as Louisville City FC’s leading scorer, forward Cameron Lancaster remains in a week-to-week, three-way battle for a spot in the starting 11.
That sort of competition is nothing new for the London native, who came up through English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur’s academy. Lancaster trained alongside of top-level talent, including former teammate Harry Kane, now Tottenham’s most prolific scorer.
“I was competing with the likes of (Emmanuel) Adebayor and (Louis) Saha just to sort of get a sniff even in training,” Lancaster said. “It was tough, but I learned from it so I can progress and bring it in to football over here.”
Lancaster came off the bench to score his team-high fifth goal of the season last weekend in a win over Saint Louis FC. Following a week of training, Lancaster earned the start against the defending USL champions New York Red Bulls II. The striker put together a solid game – placing a pair of shots on goal and forcing four fouls while not committing one himself – before being subbed off in the 70th minute by Luke Spencer.
Fellow forwards Ilija Ilic and Spencer also remain in play for the club’s starting striker role.
“It drives all of us on to sort of be at our best everyday in training – everyday in the game,” Lancaster said. “It’s competition, but it’s healthy competition.”
All three forwards have held the job at various points this season, most recently Ilic, who has started the last four games. To rotate strikers is new for LouCity, which featured USL MVP Matt Fondy in 2015 before signing Chandler Hoffman, who scored 14 goals in 2016.
But it’s working. LouCity sits third in the USL Eastern Conference standings, two points behind the first-place Charleston Battery – with three games in hand on the leaders.
“You look at us – we’ve all scored, we’ve all assisted goals and overall just help our team in creating goals,” Spencer said. “We’re all doing our job and competing everyday.
“If you’re not in the starting 11, then your job is to push the striker who is and make that a difficult decision on the coaching staff.”
Spencer scored his fourth goal of the year five minutes after Lancaster notched in his fifth. Ilic has scored two goals, both of them this month.
In addition to his goal last weekend, Lancaster has booted in three strikes that were in the running for USL Goal of the Week this year. He earned USL Player of the Week as well last month after registering a brace in a win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“Honestly being the leading goal scorer doesn’t mean a thing to me as long as the team’s doing well,” Lancaster said. “As long as I’m sort of trying to help the team that’s all that matters.”
Regardless, Lancaster’s pushing his teammates as the only player on LouCity’s roster to appear in a Premier League game. He came on in the 78th minute of a January 2012 game against Wigan Athletic.
“He’s been able to learn from the likes of Harry Kane and develop as (Kane) was developing,” Spencer said. “Anytime you’re around good players you’re learning and competing with them.
“He’s a powerful player that can also hold the ball up. There’s not a lot that he has to work on because he’s a good player.”
Now at the half way mark of their season, LouCity’s schedule boasts eight more home games, including a final rematch against rival FC Cincinnati on August 12. Over 10,000 fans flooded Louisville Slugger Field Saturday after setting a record of 11,632 fans against FC Cincinnati on July 15. Buy discounted single-game tickets here by using promo code “KSR”.