A makeshift back line held strong for Louisville City FC in its 2017 season opener. But despite owning possession and creating a number of chances, the boys in purple couldn’t find the back of the net.
LouCity played Saint Louis FC to a scoreless draw Saturday in front of a crowd of 6,758 at Slugger Field – that despite out-shooting its Kings’ Cup rival 21-4 and possessing the ball for nearly 60 percent of the game.
"I think when you do you’re very unfortunate not to win the game," said coach James O'Connor. "I think when you do that you should win the game. We’re very unlucky not to win the game. I can’t recall us having a game where we’ve dominated so clearly for so long. I’m not being disrespectful to Saint Louis. I thought we played really, really well. "
• VIDEO | Watch Coach's full press conference
Concerning for LouCity was a first half substitution that swapped out starting goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh for Tim Dobrowolski after Ranjitsingh suffered what appeared to be a non-contact injury. Defenders left Dobrowolski with little work to do, however, limiting Saint Louis’ looks at goal.
That came even with defenders Paco Craig and Sean Reynolds serving red card suspensions dating back to last season.
Midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo, named the team captain Saturday, had "mixed feelings" about the result.
“Disappointed we didn’t get three (points) because I thought we played well," said DelPiccolo, a University of Louisville graduate. "I thought we had good attitudes. I thought we deserved three points. But again, you’re not exactly shattered, because of all the things I just said.
"We did come out and play well, and so you’re happy with that -- but a little bit at the same time disappointed not to get away with three points.”"
Rookie midfielder Richard Ballard, a Louisville native, starred as the fan-voted Man of the Match and had perhaps LouCity’s best look at the goal in the 19th minute, after he dribbled past a defender but shot just wide. Later, in the second half, Cameron Lancaster nearly beat Saint Louis FC on the counter attack. Opposing goalkeeper Devala Gorrick came up with the save.
Saint Louis FC nearly struck later, with an 87th-minute header played dangerously into the box – and to the left of Dobrowolski, the keeper. Defender Tarek Morad cleared it, however, capping a stellar day for the LouCity defense. Oscar Jimenez, a converted midfielder, put in a solid day at left back, and newcomer Sean Totsch worked alongside of Morad.
Forward Luke Spencer, plus midfielders Devon “Speedy” Williams and Brian Ownby also made their LouCity debuts Saturday.
Ballard said Saturday's game reaffirmed what he thought of this LouCity team going into it.
"I mean we’re gonna fight the full 90 minutes," he said. "We’re gonna keep a good attitude and high intensity the whole game. Sometimes you just have to finish the opportunity to come away with three points.”
LouCity has a short turnaround to its second of 32 United Soccer League games this season, traveling to play Orlando City B this Thursday.
Match: Louisville City FC vs. Saint Louis FC
Date: March 25, 2016
Venue: Slugger Field
Kickoff: 2:03 p.m.
Weather: Cloudy, 70 degrees
Man of the Match: Richard Ballard
Louisville City FC (0, 0, 0)
Saint Louis FC (0, 0, 0)
Louisville City FC: 1- Greg Ranjitsingh (45’ 28-Tim Dobrowolski), 24- Kyle Smith, 19- Oscar Jimenez, 4- Sean Totsch, 6- Tarek Morad, 36- Paolo DelPiccolo, 8- Devon “Speedy” Williams, 22- George Davis IV (68’ 12- Luke Spencer), 9- Cameron Lancaster (83’ 11- Niall McCabe), 10- Brain Ownby, 23- Richard Ballard
Subs not used: 8- Guy Abend, 3- Sean Russell
Head coach: James O’Connor
Saint Louis FC: 1- Devala Gorrick, 4- AJ Cochran, 5- Konrad Plewa, 13- Matt Sheldon, 23- Ryan Howe (53’ 22- Wes Charpie), 17- Octavio Guzman, 7- Sebastian Dalgaard, 8- Dragan Stojkov, 18- Ivan Mirkovic, 19- Jose Angulo (76’ 21- Max Alvarez), 9- Christian Volesky (59’ 11- Mats Bjurman)
Subs not used: 6- Austin Ledbetter, 15- Matteo Kidd, 12- Tyler David, 99- Adam Grinwis
Head coach: Predrag “Preki” Radosavljević
Referee: Calin Radosav
Assistant Referee 1: Art Arustamyan
Assistant Referee 2: Cory Richardson
4th Official: Ben Hall-Volpenhein