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 Louisville City FC

What to Watch for with LouCity vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies

October 13, 2023 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Louisville City FC News Release


Louisville City FC can consider its goals Saturday twofold as the club hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a 7:30 p.m. regular season finale at Lynn Family Stadium.

LouCity must win - and in turn, hope for a Memphis 901 FC loss elsewhere - to jump back up the Eastern Conference standings. Top-eight finishers qualify for the USL Championship Playoffs, but the top-four earn a home game to start the weekend of Oct. 20-22.

City also has an opportunity to snag the biggest win of its season at the right time, looking to pick up some momentum heading into the postseason.

As it stands, LouCity (14-11-8, 50 points) is locked into the playoffs at fifth in the East. The Rowdies (18-9-6, 60 points) are second on the table.

Last month, the two sides met in a tightly contested, 2-1 Tampa Bay win in Florida. Wilson Harris scored seconds after coming on as a halftime substitute, but Cal Jennings hit the back of the net twice for the Rowdies.

This time, LouCity will have the benefit of its home crowd and a bit of theming. City walked out for its last game in new third kits, and fans are encouraged to match against Tampa Bay for a "blackout" game.

Tickets remain available, with a new line of black kit collection merchandise - including a T-shirt, hat and scarf - on sale at shop.loucity.com.

Follow along

- The game will air live locally on MyTV 58 and ESPN Louisville's 680/105.7.

- If streaming, download the free WDRB+ 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. Also find the club at louisvillecityfc on Instagram and Louisville City FC on Facebook.

Player availability report

Wes Charpie (out)

Amadou Dia (out)

Kyle Morton (out)

Enoch Mushagalusa (questionable)

Ramzi Qawasmy (out)

Jordan Scarlett (out)

Story lines...

Playoff scenarios: LouCity could finish as high as fourth and as low as sixth pending this weekend's results, with Indy Eleven also only two points behind the boys in purple. The No. 4 seed hosts the 5 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round. The 6 will travel to play the 3, which is guaranteed to be the Charleston Battery. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC is the top seed, and Tampa Bay already clinched the 2.

Wrong side of history: This up-and-down LouCity campaign will result in the club's new record for losses in a single season. City has also never finished worse than fourth in the East since debuting in 2015. Still, even in 2019, when the boys in purple scrapped to that fourth-place finish, they managed a playoff run to the USL Championship Final. The same single-elimination postseason format leaves anything possible for this year's squad.

Rowdies rivalry: Since FC Cincinnati's move to Major League Soccer, LouCity has slowly filled a competitive void in its schedule with Tampa Bay. The clubs have met in three straight Eastern Conference Finals, and each of their other three meetings since they resumed playing in the regular season last year have been decided by a single goal. City won both of last year's clashes at Lynn Family Stadium.

Bouncing back: After a shutout loss Sept. 30 at New Mexico United coach Danny Cruz called "disgraceful," LouCity looked more like itself in last Saturday's 1-1 draw against the Hartford Athletic. City out-shot its opponent, 24-8, and controlled 55.3% of possession. But it also meant lingering inability to finish, a season-long issue that has seen the boys in purple number 39 goals, joint-fewest among the league's 16 clubs in playoff positions.

Thellufsen's breakout: Danish midfielder Rasmus Thellufsen registered his long-awaited first club goal in the Hartford win when he settled a long ball over the top, switched onto his left foot and fired a finessed shot into the corner of the net. Thellufsen made Saturday his 23rd start of the year, but it marked a return to the lineup. He hadn't been selected since Aug. 19, a span of eight games.

McCabe returns strong: Away for most of the last month to tend to a personal matter, midfielder Niall McCabe stepped right back into LouCity's starting 11 against Hartford. It was quite evident why. In addition to assisting Thellufsen's goal, the Irishman joined Brian Ownby in creating a team-high four chances in his 73 minutes. Cruz may be counting on McCabe to be fit for a full 90 against Tampa Bay.

Record chase: Goalkeeper Oliver Semmle already owns the USL Championship's rookie record for clean sheets in a season with 12. With a game to go, he also remains one shutout from matching LouCity's record total set in 2022 by Kyle Morton. The bulk of those clean sheets came earlier this year, however, with City's last donut nearly a month ago in a Sept. 16 win over San Diego Loyal SC.

Back in the mix: LouCity this week announced it recalled forward Enoch Mushagalusa after a loan spell with San Diego Loyal SC. Mushagalusa has been rehabbing from an injury but is eligible and could appear for the club before the year is out. The 23-year-old is in his second season with City, scoring two league goals and tallying an assist before his loan started in late July.

Sitting out: LouCity will be guaranteed at least one lineup change Saturday after Wes Charpie picked up a yellow card in the 71st minute of the Hartford draw. That puts the regular starting center back on eight for the year, resulting in a one-game suspension for accumulation. Caution totals do reset for all other players as the USL Championship Playoffs begin.


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