Louisville City FC is in Charlotte preparing for tonight's crucial matchup with Charlotte Independence. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Sportsplex at Mathews.
TV: WBKI / ESPN+
Radio: 840 WHAS with Kevin Kernen and Jeff Greer
Watch Party: Falls City Taproom (all ages welcome)
Louisville City coach John Hackworth said this game is crucial because the regular-season is getting shorter and the playoffs are right around the corner.
“It’s a test now into August, we are still in a good position for playoffs, but Charlotte is right there, and they have to get a result to put them in a better position," Hackworth explained. " I think we have to have a response that’s positive. So, I think you are going to have two teams that are going into this game feeling like they have to get a win out of it. And I think that makes for a really good contest."
This is the second time Louisville City (8-7-6) is facing Charlotte Independence (5-8-9). The last matchup was shortly after Charlotte made its coaching change and it ended in a 1-1 draw at Louisville Slugger Field.
"We played them not so long ago here, it was a 1-1 draw, we came from behind in that game," Hackworth said. "I felt like we had the better of the total play but that’s normal for us. We need to make sure that we try to eliminate any mistakes and keep the pressure on them. It’s going to be a tough battle.
"They have had a really good run of results since they’ve been here, except for last week they had two negative results. They are back at home for the first time in three games, clearly, they like playing in front of their home fans, especially recently, and that just makes it a tough game for us.”
Charlotte has not lost in its last four home matches. The Independence is 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points behind eighth-place Louisville City.
When asked if his team was starting to feel like their backs are against the wall, Hackworth answered quickly, “I think we already are; we are there. This is unacceptable territory for this club, that’s the reality. So, we are there already.”
Defender Sean Totsch said his team still has the belief they can be one of the best teams in the USL Championship league, all it takes is a good run of games.
"The season can tend to have flows in it," Totsch said. "I think earlier in the season we struggled a little bit, and we had the one game away at Tampa. It was a hard-fought game. We thought we could've won that, ended up coming away with a draw, but it was a good result and it let to a couple game stretch of wins and ties. I think it is fair to say that, if you find one result, you can swing momentum in your favor. Definitely, we would like to get that energy in the locker room and have that excitement and joy in the game, because obviously none of us enjoy going on an away trip and then coming home empty-handed. So I think it could do the team a lot of help and swing (the team) the right way.
"But we don't need to put the pressure on one game to change everything for us, because our faith is unwavering. We really believe that we are capable of winning again no matter what the last result was, no matter what the next result is."
Louisville City will likely have a different lineup Saturday night. Starting back Alexis Souahy is out due to a Red Card in the last match, but defender Paco Craig will return to the lineup.
“Absolutely, Paco is a really good player for us," Hackworth said. "We will see this week. With everything, we are trying to hold guys accountable on performances and specifically what they do in training and what their past performances are like, and we are trying to find the right combination of guys, because we have been inconsistent and players haven’t had consistent performances individually. That makes it difficult at times, and that’s been part of the challenge this year."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Tonight's referees are Malik Badawi, Ian McKay and Jordan Davis. Fourth Official is John Matto.