Photo by James Tinnell
As Louisville City FC endured a stretch of four games in two weeks, coach James O’Connor rotated his squad, looking to keep his club fresh, but also to help regain its scoring touch.
O’Connor appears to be on to something.
Just a week after dominating defending USL champion New York Red Bulls II, the boys in purple featured the exact same starting lineup – and got the same result — a 3-0 win Saturday night over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
LouCity again took a 1-0 lead into the half, then added two more in the second with a formation that at times resembled a 3-4-3 but also showed glimpses of O’Connor’s typical 4-2-3-1. Often, Oscar Jimenez (left) and Kyle Smith (right) pushed up on the wings, leaving Sean Totsch, Paco Craig and Tarek Morad to man the defense.
LouCity improved its goal differential to plus-10, second-best in the USL Eastern Conference. No. 1 Charleston’s still three points up, but O’Connor’s squad has a pair of games in hand.
Here’s more of what we learned Saturday night:
• The word is out about LouCity. A crowd of 8,741 packed Slugger Field, where it has been 13 games since the club suffered a defeat as part of a streak dating back to last season. Average attendance through five games is 8,051, up from 5,335 at the same point in 2015 and 6,838 in 2016.
• Cameron Lancaster, voted Man of the Match, is distinguishing himself in the race for starting striker. A brilliant free kick landed in the upper-left corner of the goal in the eighth minute before he finished a nice run along the end line by Brian Ownby in the 64th. The brace was the first this season for LouCity.
• O’Connor described Richard Ballard as “unlucky” not to start. The rookie from Louisville appears close to cracking the lineup now having contributed to goals in four straight games. The run started when Ballard lobbed a cross in against the Charleston Battery that ended up an own goal. He scored in consecutive games from there before assisting Niall McCabe on Saturday.
• LouCity has a clear path to the top of the table having improved to second place in the Eastern Conference with its win Saturday. Charleston drew at FC Cincinnati after giving up a late goal and sits three points up on the boys in purple, who will have fewer games played until a busy stretch in September.