Louisville City FC

What to Watch for with LouCity at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

June 30, 2023 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Louisville City FC News Release

Louisville City FC defender Sean Totsch
Louisville City FC defender Sean Totsch
(Louisville City FC, Credit: EM Dash Photography)

With history serving as a strong indication, Saturday's meeting between Louisville City FC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC could serve as a prelude to the USL Championship Playoffs.

The clubs kick off at 7 p.m. at Highmark Stadium after seeing one another in the postseason three of the past four years, including 2022's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal won by LouCity in a penalty kick shootout.

Roles have reversed since then, when the boys in purple held the No. 1 playoff seed. The Riverhounds (8-2-6, 30 points) now occupy the top spot on the table with LouCity (7-4-4, 25 points) entering the weekend fifth - but fewer than two games out of first in a tight battle for the East.

Pittsburgh has been potent on both sides of the ball this year. Riverhounds forward Albert Dikwa is tied for the USL Championship's scoring lead on nine goals, while Saturday's hosts have only conceded a conference-best 12 goals this season.

However, LouCity has always found its way to a result at Highmark Stadium, going 5-0-4 there all-time - a stark contrast to Pittsburgh's overall home record of 87-34-51 since coach Bob Lilley took over in 2018. Nine games without a defeat at an away venue represents the USL Championship's longest active streak.

That mark includes the 2019 conference semifinal won by City. The boys in purple prevailed in the 2020 conference quarterfinal round at home. Last year's quarterfinal was also played at Lynn Family Stadium.

Saturday's LouCity-Pittsburgh game marks the first of two matchups in as many weeks. The Riverhounds turn around to visit Lynn Family Stadium on Wednesday, July 12.

Follow along

- The game will air live locally on WBKI/The CW and ESPN Louisville's 680/105.7.

- If streaming, download the free WDRB Now app to watch the local feed in Louisville. ESPN+ also streams the home feed of all USL Championship games not selected for national TV.

- For Starting XI and in-game updates, follow @loucityfc on Twitter and Louisville City FC on Facebook. Also find the club at louisvillecityfc on Instagram.

Player availability report

Jorge Gonzalez (out)

Kyle Morton (out)

Niall McCabe (questionable)

Brian Ownby (out)

Jordan Scarlett (out)

Story lines...

Road warriors: LouCity has lost just once away from Lynn Family Stadium this season, going 3-1-4 in its road games so far. The defeat - an outlying, 5-0 loss at Sacramento Republic - came on April 1. Since then, the boys in purple are unbeaten in their last five away matchups, most recently rallying for a 2-2 draw June 17 at Western Conference power Phoenix Rising FC.

Scoring stride: Enoch Mushagalusa, who scored a career-high 10 goals in 2022, had only one to his name entering last week. He then hit the back of the net in consecutive games, first with the opener in LouCity's friendly against Germany's FC Kaiserslautern before he notched the game-winner in a 1-0 weekend win over Las Vegas Lights FC. The 23-year-old forward has worked himself into a starting role of late on the left wing coinciding with his production.

Ownby's status: Back last weekend from a hamstring pull, Brian Ownby delivered a nearly instant impact, subbing on in the 68th minute. He created three chances and registered the assist on Mushagalusa's goal - his career-high 35th for the club. But in a major development, the speedy winger finds himself on the player availability report again this weekend having hit another injury setback.

Between the posts: Rookie goalkeeper Oliver Semmle is tied for the league lead in clean sheets, matching Oakland Roots SC's Paul Blanchette with seven entering the weekend. The German out of Marshall University has his back line to thank. Semmle has saved 23 of 32 shots faced but didn't see an attempt on target last weekend against Las Vegas. The lights managed to hit the cross bar in the first half but didn't get a shot on frame.

Defensive depth: Jordan Scarlett underwent knee surgery this week and will miss the rest of 2023, while fellow center back Josh Wynder has moved on to Portugal's Benifca for the next step in his career. That leaves City short in central defense with Sean Totsch and Wes Charpie the regular starters. Rookie Ramzi Qawasmy is a backup option along with Jabari Rasheed, a LouCity Academy standout entering his senior year of high school.

Iron Man: An All-League First Team selection three years running, Totsch has carried his form over to 2023. The center back - who has also consistently worn the captain's armband - is the only LouCity player to have logged all 1,350 possible regular season minutes so far this season. As a result, Totsch leads the team in a number of statistical categories including passes (925), clearances (42) and blocks (17).

He's knocking: A Danish newcomer to LouCity's squad this season, Rasmus Thellufsen appears bound to add goal contributions from his attacking midfield position. Thellufsen worked himself into a starting role from Day 1 and has appeared in all 15 games so far. He had a chance last weekend in the opening minute on a cross from out wide, but the contact wasn't ideal. Thellufsen ranks fifth on the team with 10 shots and now has three on frame.

Images from this story

Louisville City FC defender Sean Totsch
Louisville City FC defender Sean Totsch

(EM Dash Photography)

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