Louisville City got a pair of goals from Magnus Rasmussen and held on for a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night in the USL Championship Quarterfinals at Slugger Field. LouCity’s first-round USL Championship Playoff win continued a nine-game winning streak in the playoffs.
“I thought we were fantastic in the first half," Louisville City coach John Hackworth said. "Especially against a quality opponent like Tampa, I should start by saying congratulations to Tampa. They had a really good year. I know Neill did a great job with them and I’m confident that they’re going to be an opponent for a long time in this league. This being our first game in the playoffs and theirs too, it’s one of those matchups that is tough. It’s probably not worthy of a 4-5 seed if you will. But they go back to it.
"Really pleased with our performance in the first half. Tampa made some changes and I thought we let ourselves down a little bit in the second half. Didn’t execute. ... But this team has been great about building and learning from every experience and so our goal tonight was to move on, to advance, and we did that. We did that against a really good opponent and now we get to go back to work and have Pittsburgh next weekend.”
The Boys in Purple will roll to Pittsburgh next Saturday night for the USL Championship Semifinals. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, the top seed in the East, beat Birmingham Legion 7-0 Saturday night.
Saturday night closed out Louisville City's run at Slugger Field, the club's home since 2015. With all four top seeds in the East advancing, Louisville City will likely not return to Slugger even if they continue to win in the USL Championship Playoffs.
Magnus Rasmussen, who scored both goals for Louisville City Saturday night, was the first goalscorer for LouCity back in 2015.
"I didn’t realize that I was the first and last," Rasmussen said. "And I don’t know if it count’s because they scored and tried to equalize after 2-1, but I scored the first and the last for LouCity in Slugger and I am really happy about that."
Magnus' brace gave LouCity the lead, but that same lead wasn't enough the last time these two teams met when Tampa scored two goals in the final five minutes to force a draw. Hackworth said he started to feel a bit of anxiety when Tampa Bay got a goal in the second half.
“Sure, I’m not going to lie that was on my mind a little bit," Hackworth said. "But I also try to keep telling myself that these players learn from those experiences and surely they did. I don’t think – if you compare the two, we literally had a really bad turnover there in their defensive third that led to their first goal and then fortunately, we were able to lock it down and dealt with a lot of attacking corners there at the end. But I think yes, we learned our lesson.”
Louisville City will challenge top-seeded Pittsburgh next Saturday night in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The other semifinal pits Indy Eleven vs. Nashville down in Nashville.