Louisville City FC

LouCity to Hit the Road for Playoff Opener After Tampa Bay Loss

October 14, 2023 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Louisville City FC News Release

Louisville City FC's Manny Perez on the field
Louisville City FC's Manny Perez on the field
(Louisville City FC, Credit: Chris Humphrey)

Louisville City FC's hopes of earning a home opener to the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs were derailed Saturday less than a minute into a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Tampa Bay's Cal Jennings turned over LouCity deep in its own half, and the ball fell straight to JJ Williams for a goal 28 seconds into the regular season finale at Lynn Family Stadium.

The Rowdies went on to a 3-2 victory, and City remained fifth on the Eastern Conference table to end the season's final day. As a result, the boys in purple will open the playoffs at fourth-seeded Memphis 901 FC when kicking off at 6:30 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 21.

"The atmosphere tonight was incredible," said LouCity coach Danny Cruz, whose squad played to a crowd of 12,230 - second-largest of the year. Cruz gathered the team in a midfield circle to deliver a postgame message:

"I wanted everybody to understand it cannot be feeling sorry for ourselves," the coach told his team. "It cannot be heads down and chest out. Look at the support. When we're going to be on the road in the first game in the playoffs, I know everybody's going to be watching. For us, it's about making sure they're able to watch something and be proud of it."

LouCity controlled the balance of possession against Tampa Bay, holding 62.6% of the ball, but couldn't translate it to goals. City fired 12 shots, failing to land one on frame until Cameron Lancaster struck in a pretty ball from distance two minutes into second half stoppage time.

It went down as Lancaster's 80th goal in his USL Championship career - second on the league's all-time scoring list - but wasn't enough to pull his side all the way back. With a victory, LouCity would have jumped Memphis for fourth and hosted next weekend's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

"I think we have something to prove, and everyone here has our back," said defender Manny Perez. "We're going to play for them, and not just them but ourselves. We have nothing to lose and everything to win. Win or lose, I think LouCity's always going to be behind our backs."

While LouCity did register multiple goals, gaffes on the defensive side of the ball defined the night. A one-on-one tackle set up Tampa Bay's opener before the Rowdies' Cal Jennings scored on counter attacks in the 36th and 38th minutes.

Tampa Bay momentarily helped LouCity back into it with an equalizing own goal off Freddy Kleeman's head in the 19th minute. The Rowdies' Williams also blew a penalty kick try over the bar in the first half.

"Listen, they did exactly what we talked about all week - Jennings running in behind, dangerous in transition and being aware of where he is at all times," Cruz said. "We didn't do that for two out of three goals. The first goal, obviously, also not how you want to start the game.

"But at the end of the day, as I said to the players, we must now move forward and be ready to go next week."

LouCity at Memphis will air locally on MyTV and ESPN Louisville's 680/105.7. USL Championship games also stream live via ESPN+.

Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Date: October 14, 2023

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

Weather: 60 degrees, cloudy

Attendance: 12,230


Louisville City FC (1, 1, 2)

Tampa Bay Rowdies (3, 0, 3)


Louisville City FC:

19' Freddy Kleeman own goal

90+2' Cameron Lancaster (Manny Perez)

Tampa Bay Rowdies:

1' JJ Williams (Cal Jennings)

36' Cal Jennings (JJ Williams)

38' Cal Jennings (JJ Williams)


Louisville City FC: 28 - Oliver Semmle, 19 - Oscar Jimenez, 32 - Kyle Adams, 4 - Sean Totsch, 15 - Manny Perez, 12 - Tyler Gibson (26' 8 - Carlos Moguel Jr.), 11 - Niall McCabe (69' 17 - Cameron Lancaster), 22 - Dylan Mares (86' 36 - Paolo DelPiccolo), 5 - Rasmus Thellufsen (46' 77 - Enoch Mushagalusa), 10 - Brian Ownby (69' 90 - Maarten Pouwels), 14 - Wilson Harris

Subs not used: 18 - Danny Faundez, 67 - Owen Damm

Head coach: Danny Cruz

Tampa Bay Rowdies: 1 - Connor Sparrow, 2 - Conner Antley, 3 - Forrest Lasso, 19 - Freddy Kleemann (77' 8 - Jake Areman), 33 - Aaron Guillen, 4 - Lewis Hilton (86' 23 - Sebastian Dalgaard), 7 - Yann Ekra (60' 14 - Charlie Dennis), 22 - Joran Doherty, 9 - JJ Williams (77' 11 - Leo Fernandes), 16 - Jake LaCava (86' 30 - Ariel Martinez), 26 - Cal Jennings

Subs not used: 15 - Philip Breno

Head coach: Nikki Law

Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Tampa Bay Rowdies

Shots: 12 / 7

Shots on Goal: 1 / 4

Possession: 62.6% / 37.4%

Fouls: 16 / 10

Offside: 3 / 1

Corner Kicks: 8 / 2

Discipline Summary

Louisville City FC:

26' Brian Ownby (yellow)

78' Cameron Lancaster (yellow)

Tampa Bay Rowdies:

29' Yann Ekra (yellow)

43' Freddy Kleeman (yellow)

44' Conner Antley (yellow)

82' Jake Areman (yellow)

Referee: Nabil Bensalah

Images from this story

Louisville City FC's Manny Perez on the field
Louisville City FC's Manny Perez on the field

(Chris Humphrey)

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