Preview: What to Watch for with LouCity vs. SKC II
Louisville City FC and Sporting KC II are back on schedule to meet - a bit belatedly - at 8 p.m. Wednesday inside Lynn Family Stadium.
The clubs' third matchup this season was originally set for a week ago, but a positive COVID-19 test within the SKC II organization led to postponement out of an abundance of caution.
Sporting managed a return to the pitch on Saturday, dropping a 3-1 decision at Saint Louis FC. Meanwhile, LouCity was never much threatened that same evening when defeating Loudoun United FC by a 2-0 score.
Seven days later, the stakes remain high with LouCity is effectively one victory away from a USL Championship playoff spot while holding games in hand over the clubs it's chasing.
Indy Eleven (6-2-1, 19 points) and Saint Louis FC (4-3-1, 13 points) have the postseason positions for now. They've also played nine and eight games, respectively. LouCity (3-3-1, 10 points) and Sporting KC II (2-4-1, 7 points) have played seven apiece.
The 16-game regular season leads into a single-elimination tournament.
Wednesday night's rivals split their previous contests, with the boys in purple 1-0 winners on July 25 before Sporting turned the tables with a 2-1 victory on July 29.
Coach John Hackworth says...
"We always have a growth mindset. We went over our review and film and identified areas where we still feel like we can get that small percentage better. That is absolutely one of the areas where we continue to look at and say, 'If we make a better decision here, it'll give us yet another opportunity and even a better one.' I love coaching these guys, because they're willing to have tough discussions, look at video in detail and analyze something and say, 'OK, we can do this better.' That's one reason why this team continually gets better as seasons go on."
LouCity: The attack starts between the posts for the home side. Goalkeeper Ben Lundt is tasked with making key choices distributing from the back for the boys in purple, who have left him little work to do making saves. But when asked, Lundt has come up big, making a stoppage time save against Loudoun to preserve a 1-0 lead in the first half Saturday before shutting down a 69th-minute breakaway when his side led Loudoun 2-0. The loanee from MLS' FC Cincinnati made it his second clean sheet of the season.
Sporting KC II: The 18-year-old midfielder Jake Davis has taken center stage in his side's attack recently. Davis hasn't scored in Sporting's last two games but nearly helped double the lead Aug. 5 against Saint Louis FC when he zipped down the right side and left a ball for teammate Fredinho Mompremier, who blasted his shot off the bar. Davis, a former academy signing who inked his first pro contract in June, has started five of six games this season after registering two assists and drawing a penalty in 2019.
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On the WBKI (The CW)/ESPN+ streaming call: Joe Malfa (play by play) and Devon Kerr (color).
And for AM 790 WKRD on the radio: Clay Ables (play by play) and Jeff Greer (color).
- Goalkeeper Lundt relishes his role as LouCity's 'first attacker'
- Watch: Hackworth says LouCity has 'growth mindset' off a win
- Murray's morning tea: Has LouCity turned the corner?
- Courier Journal: LouCity seeks a second straight win
- Wynder's USL debut an added bonus in LouCity's victory
Notes to know
Multi-goal game: Finally. LouCity, which had scored five goals in six games entering last weekend, managed to pour in a pair of shots while defeating Loudoun United FC, 2-0, at Lynn Family Stadium. The result evened the club's goal differential, which will serve as a key tiebreaker should LouCity finish the season tied with another Group E rival. Indy Eleven is +8, Saint Louis FC +2 and SKC II -3.
Helping hand: Midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo and defender Alexis Souahy have missed the majority of minutes since the USL Championship restarted last month. Both notched assists in Saturday's victory over Loudoun. First, in the 39th minute Souahy played a long ball over the opposing back line finished at the near post by Cameron Lancaster. Later, in the 49th minute DelPiccolo flicked a pass out wide to Napo Matsoso, who scuffed in a goal as well.
The right side of history: In 2019, coach John Hackworth's first full season leading LouCity, the boys in purple limped into August, fighting for a playoff spot off consecutive losses to end July. Now, will history repeat itself? 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. So far this month, LouCity is 1-0-1.
Matsoso's new role: The captain DelPiccolo's return to the starting lineup necessitated a touch decision for Hackworth. To keep his best players on the pitch, Matsoso shifted from the central midfield to the right wing, almost immediately delivering a third-minute assist against Indy Eleven. Then versus Loudoun, the University of Kentucky product found the back of the net for the first time this season.
If the shoe fits: Lancaster, who won the 2018 Golden Boot award, is back with LouCity on loan from Major League Soccer's Nashville SC and may factor again in the race to lead the league in scoring. Indy Eleven's Tyler Pasher and Phoenix Rising FC's Junior Flemmings have tallied eight goals apiece, but Lancaster's four have him in contention. The Englishman is plenty dynamic, scoring in the run of play with his head and feet in addition to a free kick goal this season.
Wynder sees the field: Midfielder Elijah Wynder, a local 17-year-old star on an academy deal, made his USL debut a successful one Saturday. In 23 minutes on the pitch, the rising Louisville Collegiate senior had five touches on the ball. Three were completed passes, one a shot and another a key corner won late in the going that allowed LouCity to hold possession while nursing a lead. As an academy player, Wynder can train and play with the pros while retaining his amateur status.
JoGo's a regular: Youth international Jonathan Gomez, who has represented both the United States and Mexico, has appeared in four games with a pair of starts in 2020. The 16-year-old outside back has signaled an especially bright future, leading LouCity with 11 crosses against Loudoun while completing 81.8% of his passes in the opponent's half of the field, close to a team high. Gomez is in Louisville on a professional contract after international appearances for the U.S. (U-16, U-17) and Mexico (U-17).
Easing in: Forward Jason Johnson, a Jamaican international who most recently suited up for the Western Conference's Phoenix Rising, has subbed in to finish LouCity's last two games, one at striker before moving out wide against Loudoun. Johnson hasn't hit the back of the net just yet, but it's only a matter of time. Two seasons ago, he tallied nine goals with Phoenix, including a soaring scissor kick that won USL Goal of the Month for June of 2018.
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