Louisville City is heading to Memphis for the final regular-season match of the season Saturday at AutoZone Park.
“To be fair, me and the players, we don’t think about the season ending this weekend because we think of the season going until early to mid-November,” Louisville City coach John Hackworth said. “That’s our mindset. We certainly think of the next game we have and we still have work to do.”
Currently sixth in the Eastern Conference table, Louisville City locked up a Playoff berth weeks ago, but Saturday night is all about positioning.
Louisville City has 57 points. Fourth-place Tampa Bay has 58 points. Fifth-place New York Red Bulls II has 57 points. With a win, Louisville City could pass both Tampa Bay and the Red Bulls.
That means Louisville City still has a chance at hosting a USL Championship Playoff game as a top-four seed. To be able to host, Louisville City would need to beat Memphis Saturday. Then, Louisville City would need the Tampa Bay Rowdies to draw or lose at Hartford and the New York Red Bulls II to draw or lose at Loudoun United.
If that happens, Louisville City, as the 4 seed, would host the first round playoff game on Saturday, Oct. 26, vs. the 5-seed, which in that scenario would be Tampa Bay.
If LouCity wins Saturday and both Tampa Bay and New York win as well, LouCity would remain the six seed and be slated to play at Indianapolis on Oct. 26. Indy locked up the three seed Wednesday night with a win in its final contest of the season.
Memphis, on the other hand, lost its final chance at a playoff spot over the final two weeks of the season. Within striking distance at the end of September, Memphis 901 lost 0-3 to Indy Eleven, lost 1-2 to Charlotte and lost 0-2 to Charleston Battery Wednesday night.
Despite being out of the USL Championship Playoffs, Memphis still has quality players.
“We know they can play because we saw them in the preseason and then we saw them at the beginning of the season,” Louisville City midfielder Napo Matsoso said. “We will have to concentrate on our game and be ready for this weekend.”
The game will take on special significance for Hackworth as his son, Morgan, plays for Memphis 901 FC.
“I will have a lot of family members in Memphis and on a personal level that’ll be nice for me to see my son and see family that will be coming to watch both of us,” Hackworth said. “But at the same time, it is a business trip for us, and it’s a chance for us to try to get better.”
Louisville City will travel to Memphis Friday in preparation for Saturday night’s match. And by Saturday night at midnight, the club will know its road for the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Eastern. The game will be televised locally on WBKI-TV. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ in America and on YouTube worldwide. The radio broadcast will be on 790 KRD and feature Kevin Kernen (play-by-play).