Memphis Takes Down Louisville in Crucial Divisional Battle
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis 901 FC (11-9-8, 41 points) inched closer to the playoffs with its first win over divisional rival Louisville City FC (16-6-7, 55 points) 2-1 Wednesday night at AutoZone Park. The win bumps 901 FC up to third place in the Central Division with just four games left on the year.
Louisville came out with a strong attacking presence, forcing Memphis to make a number of defensive plays. The visitors found their breakthrough early, though, as Paolo DelPiccolo scored his fourth goal in three matches off of a corner kick driven low into the box by Oscar Jimenez. A tightly contested, physical first half would continue with three yellow cards issued before halftime. Seconds before stoppage time, forward Alan Winn found the ball at his feet at the near post and lofted a ball over the Louisville goalkeeper, across goal and toward the back post. Forward Michael Salazar leapt up near the back post and headed the ball into the back of the net to tie the match at one goal apiece.
The match resumed in the second half with more back-and-forth possessions as each side looked to take the advantage. In the 78', it was Memphis that found the go-ahead score via defender Mark Segbers. Racing down the pitch, forward Rashawn Dally sent a ball into the box which was deflected toward Mark Segbers at the edge of the area. Segbers sent in a perfect through ball to midfielder Dre Fortune who sent it back to Segbers with a backheel assist, which Segbers finished into the top of the net to earn the match-winner.
Michael Salazar has scored in back-to-back matches for the first time since May 2019 with RGVFC Toros, and his five goals on the year are second only to Kyle Murphy's 17. Additionally, Mark Segbers' first goal of the season is the defender's first score since August 2020. Goalkeeper Cody Cropper's one save on the evening gives him 32 on the year-the second most in a single season since Jeff Caldwell's 80 in 2019. Memphis' five unique players to suit up in goal-Kyle Morton, Mark Segbers, John Berner Cody Cropper and Brady Scott-have accumulated a club-record 99 saves on the year which is tied for the third most in USL Championship play this season.
The 2-1 victory over then division-leading Louisville City was the first time Memphis had defeated the Eastern Conference giants in six tries. The win also pushes Memphis up to third place in the Central Division as the season winds down. Memphis' magic number is five, meaning 901 FC need either two wins or a win and two draws in its remaining four matches to ensure a spot in the playoffs without the help of others.
"This was an unbelievable, full-team, complete performance," Head Coach Ben Pirmann gushed. "We bossed that game outside of the first twenty minutes. It was an unbelievable performance from those guys; they give absolutely everything, and they play with quality. I'm proud of them, I'm proud of this club, and I'm so happy for us."
"We faced adversity on Sunday against San Antonio," Michael Salazar admitted. "We started a little slow, but we picked it up. I was fortune to be in the right place at the right time to score that goal, and I was glad to give the team a little momentum and belief that we could win this game.
"It all goes to the locker room," Mark Segbers added. "On and off the field, we're a tight knit group. When you look to your left or to your right, you know the person next to you is working just as hard as you. When you know that, you can focus on your football. Those little things make the rough times easier and makes the good times that much happier. We're all on the same mission and know that nothing's going to come easy; we all have the same mentality which helps a lot."
Another quick turnaround sees Memphis host Atlanta United 2 at AutoZone Park for the first time since its home-opener on June 16. Kickoff from Memphis is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, Oct. 16. The match can be seen on ESPN+ and select WMC affiliates.
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from October 13, 2021
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