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Louisville City hosts Atlanta United 2 Sunday afternoon at Slugger Field. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. With just 12 games left in the regular season, Louisville City coach John Hackworth is focused on a strong finish.
“I always think that we plan to finish stronger than we start," Hackworth said. "In our plan, periodization for the whole year, we have been looking at this part of the schedule and saying okay we could potentially have some really difficult games in these last 12, we also have games where we think we should get results. So, it comes down to very simply doing our job when we should and then trying to make sure that we are stealing points."
Louisville City is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Top 10 teams making the playoffs. The top six teams get a bye in the playoffs. Atlanta is currently 16th. Louisville City's final 12 games include six games vs. teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference table and six games against teams below them in the table.
"We have some difficult away opponents in those top six, which is also an opportunity for us to get, what I would call a six-point swing," Hackworth said. " Right now, we need that, we are on the outside looking in of that top six. So, we have to be the spoiler to teams that are above us currently in the table."
Louisville City notched a key win over Charlotte Independence last weekend with a defensive effort capped by a goal by Luke Spencer.
“it was really important," Hackworth said. "Only time will tell because we still have to continue, but as I sat here a week ago and I said that it was a six-point swing, just for distancing ourselves from an opponent, which have clearly been in good form and back on track fighting for a spot in the playoffs. As well as for just our own belief in what we do and how we do it. It was a huge game.”
While Louisville City came out in a defensive posture against Charlotte, they may or may not use the same tactics vs. Atlanta United 2.
On Thursday, Hackworth explained, “I would say to you that we haven’t really decided that yet because we are a team that likes to press and we felt that it was important to solidify, first and foremost, how we were playing against Charlotte, not to let them have time and space. This game is about time and space and trying to look at your opponent and say how can we create it and, on the flip side, how can we not give it to them. So, this was kind of a tactical matchup where we just felt that this was the best tactic for the game. We look at Atlanta United, and they play much more open than Charlotte does, it is a different tactical game, and one that suits our style a little better and yet still gives us the possibility of having the same problems that we’ve had all year long.
"So, my answer is that I think we will have to balance that out. I think you will see us be more like ourselves, but the fact that we switched tactically, and it worked well, we will have to use that at times to our advantage.”
Louisville City and Atlanta United 2 face off Sunday at 3 p.m. at Slugger Field. The game will be televised locally on WDRB and broadcast on radio on 840 WHAS. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.