Preview: What to Watch for with Loucity vs. Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC hasn't played since July 29, yet the boys in purple managed to improve their outlook when it comes to the USL Championship's playoff race.
With the top-two finishers from each regional pod advancing to the postseason, Group E-leading Indy Eleven (5-2-0, 15 points) has lost two of its last three after an unbeaten start.
Saint Louis FC (3-2-1, 10 points) dropped points in its last two games - first a defeat and then a draw at the death Wednesday night as it hosted Sporting KC II.
SKC II (2-3-1, 7 points), previously without a point, has won two of its last three.
LouCity 2-3-0, 6 points) sits at the bottom of the group. But it holds games in hand on every rival while the boys in purple aim for a six-point swing Saturday night, when Indy Eleven visits Lynn Family Stadium for an 8 p.m. kickoff.
So continues the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest - supporter-named, of course - a competitive series since Indy Eleven joined the USL in 2018.
Both clubs own a regular-season win to go with three draws. The playoffs lean purple, with LouCity capturing both postseason meetings, including a come-from-behind victory in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final when these clubs last met.
The newest chapter will be written in Group E play as LouCity takes the rare role of underdog on its home turf.
Coach John Hackworth says...
"It's an opportunity. We got results to go our way over the weekend, and that happens in sports sometimes. Sometimes it goes the other way. Right now, even with (Wednesday) night, Sporting Kansas City and Saint Louis playing to a 1-1 draw. That means that both of those teams only got one point. We're in a position that if we do what we're capable of doing Saturday night, we're right back in the thick of things.
"You'll have the feeling that all of us have fans, staff, club, where we haven't maybe reached our full potential so far this year. We're back in the thick of it. That doesn't mean it's over, but it certainly is a fantastic opportunity and one that we are fully aware of right now and exited to have."
LouCity: Forward Cameron Lancaster, who set the USL's scoring record with 25 goals in 2018, is carrying the attacking load while back on loan from Major League Soccer's Nashville SC. The Englishman scored to win LouCity's March 7 season opener and has since broken through in back-to-back games. His July 25 header pushed the boys in purple past Sporting KC II, and he delivered a beauty of a free kick goal July 29 in a 2-1 loss to that same foe.
Indy Eleven: Lancaster ranks third in the USL in scoring with three goals. He and the rest of the league are chasing Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher, who has registered six goals in seven appearances. All were off his left foot, with the lone strike from outside the box a strike from distance at the death in a July 22 away win over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Pasher, a 26-year-old native of Canada, is in his third season with the Eleven.
For Starting XI and in-game updates, follow @loucityfc on Twitter and Louisville City FC on Facebook . Also find us at louisvillecityfc on Instagram .
On the WBKI (The CW)/ESPN+ streaming call: Chris Wittyngham (play by play) and Ryan Davis (color).
And for AM 790 WKRD on the radio: Clay Ables (play by play) and Jeff Greer (color).
- New signing Johnson aims to add 'spice' to LouCity's lineup
- Watch: Hackworth, players preview Indy Eleven's visit
- LouCity 'setting the benchmark' with training facility
- Courier Journal: LouCity sees 'opportunity' vs. Indy
- WAVE3: LouCity's safety, attendance plan successful
Notes to know
The right side of history: In 2019, coach John Hackworth's first full season leading LouCity, the boys in purple also limped into August, fighting for a playoff spot off consecutive losses to end July. Can they similarly turn things around in 2020? August 2019 began a 10-game unbeaten streak for the club, which earned points in 12 of its final 13 games. That sparked a run back to LouCity's third straight USL Championship Final appearance.
LouCity's lapses: In a 1-3 beginning to the USL Championship's restart, LouCity has been outscored 6-3 by visitors to Lynn Family Stadium. A trend can be seen in the turnovers. The boys in purple gave up possession inside their own half or near the half line leading to three of those six goals, including Sporting KC II's 83rd-minute game winner last time out on July 29.
JoGo gets a start: Youth international Jonathan Gomez, who has represented both the United States and Mexico, logged 26 minutes across his first two LouCity appearances upon the USL's restart. The 16-year-old left back then found his way into a starting role in the second of two straight Sporting KC II games. Gomez was unable to clear a ball into the box leading to the visitors' initial goal but was otherwise solid in his first start on a professional contract, completing 90% of his passes from the left back spot.
Minus Magnus: LouCity and its leading scorer from last season, midfielder Magnus Rasmussen, agreed effective July 31 to terminate their contract. Rasmussen and his wife, Camilla, earlier this month welcomed new daughter Olivia to their family in Denmark, where he will remain amid the COVID-19 pandemic. LouCity's technical staff plans to re-sign Rasmussen for 2021 after he poured in 13 regular-season goals and four more in the playoffs in 2019.
Fresh face: Forward Jason Johnson, a Jamaican international who most recently suited up for the Western Conference's Phoenix Rising, added to some firepower Monday when announced late last month as LouCity's newest signing. Johnson missed most of 2019 with an injury. But two seasons ago, he tallied nine goals, including a soaring scissor kick that won USL Goal of the Month for June of 2018. Johnson is available for selection Saturday.
In the stands: LouCity's attendance of 4,850 (about 30% of maximum capacity) in its first four games back have marked the highest number of people to attend team sporting events in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic put sports on pause. Club officials are following local government guidance and the Venue Shield plan devised by stadium operator ASM Global that calls for wearing masks in the building, physical distancing and temperature checks, among other measures to keep fans safe.
Images from this story
Louisville City FC in training
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