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How LouCity’s Elijah Wynder is capitalizing on his attacking freedom | Young Player Spotlight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/14/23, 3:00PM EDT


20-year-old has come into his own playing as second striker alongside Lancaster in attacking third

Louisville City FC's Elijah Wynder scored his second goal of the season on Saturday night as he continued to impress in his more recent attacking role for the side. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

Louisville City FC Head Coach Danny Cruz was left dissatisfied with his side’s 2-2 draw with Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night as his side let a lead twice slip away on home turf as the Toros found the net on set pieces goals.

One of the silver linings in the performance at Lynn Family Stadium, however, was that of Elijah Wynder, whose second goal of the season highlighted another good all-around display by the 20-year-old.

“I thought he put in a shift tonight,” said Cruz. “I think he was one that has played a lot of minutes and for me his mentality was right. He does a great job putting himself in a good position on the goal, you know, but definitely a bright spot for me.”

While younger brother Joshua drew the major spotlight prior to his move to SL Benfica earlier this summer, Elijah has started to come into his own as this season has progressed. Playing regularly as a second striker alongside Cameron Lancaster in recent weeks, he has begun to bring a more consistent threat in the final third, which has been aided by the confidence Cruz has shown in the freedom Wynder has been granted in the current tactical system.

“I’m feeling very comfortable playing this, but also this formation gives you a lot of freedom,” said Wynder. “I can basically move anywhere into the attacking part of the field. So, I love this formation.”

Wynder has slotted into numerous positions since breaking into consistent First Team minutes late in the 2022 campaign. This season he’s previously started as a holding midfielder, and even made one start in LouCity’s three-man back line as the side went through its challenges with injuries in June.

Now, though, he’s in a role that appears to be allowing him to come more fully into his own as a player.

“I think the system has suited him for sure,” said Cruz. “I think he’s found a good balance with the ball. He’s doing the work without the ball. So, it’s something I’m really happy with.”

Here are some other young players who stood out in the past week of action…

- Rida Zouhir, San Antonio FC: The 19-year-old continues to shine for SAFC with two highlight reel goals to his credit against New Mexico United. He could be picking up steam in the Young Player of the Year race.

- Fidel Barajas, Charleston Battery: The 17-year-old regained the league lead with his eighth assist of the season in the Battery’s 1-1 draw against Louisville City FC last Wednesday night, moving him into double-digit goal contributions overall.

- Dane Jacomen, Loudoun United FC: The 22-year-old goalkeeper shone on Saturday night with a five-save shutout against Las Vegas Lights FC that included both a penalty kick save and a brilliant reflex stop in the first half.

- Collin Smith, Birmingham Legion FC: The 19-year-old scored his first professional goal against Sacramento Republic FC, and what’s more, his parents were on hand for the game at Protective Stadium.

“My family was up top, so I was able to connect eyes with them all the way up there,” said Smith.

- Jake LaCava, Tampa Bay Rowdies: The 22-year-old bagged a goal and an assist in a stellar display against Monterey Bay F.C. and completed a remarkable 24 of 25 passes overall while notching two chances created.

- Xavi Gnaulati, San Diego Loyal SC: The 18-year-old made his USL Championship debut against Loudoun United FC last Wednesday, completing 21 of 28 passes and winning 3 of 3 duels in a positive start.

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