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LouCity hosts Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night

By LouCity, 09/25/19, 2:15PM EDT

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TICKETS >> LOUvTBR @ Slugger Field

After collecting points in all eight of its recent matches and moving up in the Eastern Conference table, Louisville City FC takes another shot at the top of the table Saturday night when 3rd-place Tampa Bay Rowdies come to Slugger Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. 

“I like our team right now,” Hackworth said. “I like the way we are working, our process, our belief in each other. We have a very good opponent coming into town and we have to respect them and give them our full attention.”

After 30 games, Tampa Bay is currently tied atop the Eastern Conference Standings with 56 points. The Rowdies are currently third based on tiebreakers with the New York Red Bulls II and Indy Eleven. Louisville City moved up to 6th in the East after taking three points from NYRBII on Saturday. The Boys in Purple have 50 points after 20 games played.

“It’s another challenge for us to see if we can continue to get better and get results. This is another six-pointer,” Louisville City FC coach John Hackworth said. “They have a game in hand so if we are able to win this and get three points it would put us relatively even with them. It’s a huge game.”

Tampa is coming off a 6-1 route of Bethlehem Steel on Saturday. The Rowdies got goals from five different players.

“Their movement in their front five in the attack is excellent,” Hackworth said. “Leo Fernandez is an excellent player. I know him from Philly because he played for me there. He played with Danny (Cruz) and Antoine (Hoppenot) there. The movement of their two nines and the playmaking ability of (Andrew) Tinari has been excellent. (Malik) Johnson has been excellent as the right wing back. They have good players and their movement in that front five is something we are really going to have to account for.”

Louisville City and Tampa Bay are linked because of a trade executed near midseason. Louisville City gained Antoine Hoppenot, sending Lucky Mkosana to Tampa.

“I know both teams felt like it would improve their teams and I believe it has,” Hackworth said. “We like what Antoine provides for us. Certainly, that will be a storyline coming into this game especially with both players scoring over the weekend.”

Louisville City’s recent run has consisted of wins over Charlotte, Atlanta, Charleston, North Carolina, Hartford, and New York draws vs. Indy Eleven and Pittsburgh. Hackworth said the run started with defense. 

“We have fixed a lot of little details and it starts with our defending,” Hackworth said. “We put an emphasis on making sure that we didn’t give up goals early in the game for most of this run – even though we gave up one against Red Bulls – I think that has meant we are more confident in everything we are doing. You saw that in the second half against Red Bull, how we answered there. We didn’t necessarily play our game, but that’s OK because we were up by three goals at one point and we were being more pragmatic.”

Louisville City FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Slugger Field. The game will be broadcast on 790 KRD radio and WBKI TV. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ in America and on YouTube worldwide.