Louisville City FC dropped their first contest of the season in Derby Day's 1-0 loss at Indy Eleven, but their drive and determination to push forward may now be stronger than ever.
In a week that has gone well for LouCity so far, head coach James O'Connor earned USL Coach of the Month for an unbeaten April. In addition, forward Cameron Lancaster bagged USL Player of the Month after four goals in as many games.
Despite learning their fate in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, LouCity's focus is completely on Sunday's massive clash against Nashville SC.
When & Where
First Tennessee Park plays host to #NSHvLOU on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. local time. The match will be LouCity's first trip to Music City but second game in total against Nashville SC, with the first coming in the form of a 2-0 win to open the season at Slugger Field on March 17.
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Last Time Out
Louisville City FC lost their first match of the 2018 season in a scrappy, 1-0 battle with Indy Eleven in front of 9,008 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tight from the beginning, LouCity and Indy Eleven played out to nearly 80 scoreless minutes of action before a penalty was given against LouCity defender Paco Craig for apparently handling the ball in the box.
Stepping up to kick, Indy Eleven's Ayoze sent LouCity 'keeper Greg Ranjitsingh the wrong way to put the hosts in front. As the "Boys in Purple" fought their way back, their best chance of the night came at the end of five-plus minutes of stoppage time. Swinging a ball into the box, forward Luke Spencer watched as his header flashed just wide of the post and out.
The result saw LouCity's record move to 5W-1D-1L and down to second in the Eastern Conference, though with a game in hand.
Rewind against NASHVILLE SC
The season opener at Slugger Field saw the "Boys in Purple" ultimately break down Nashville SC in a 2-0 win back in mid-March.
Forward Luke Spencer opened the scoring in the 56th minute off a Niall McCabe cross, and McCabe turned from provider to scorer in the 66th minute, tapping home a square ball from Oscar Jimenez.
Nashville would test 'keeper Greg Ranjitsingh a couple of times, but the man in goal refused to be beaten in earning his first clean sheet of the year.
KY Lottery Kees to the Game
A trip to the Music City means LouCity faces a vital test against Nashville SC. A few Kees to the Game presented by Kentucky Lottery:
1. All about the response
2. Stick to the game plan
3. Find your space
James O'Connor's pre-match press conference:
On his side’s entrance into the 2018 U.S. Open Cup:
“We excited and we’re certainly looking forward to the Open Cup. We certainly want to thank [UofL men’s soccer head coach] Ken [Lolla] and everybody over at UofL for allowing us to go and play there. I think it’s fantastic that we’ve been able to access to that stadium and that field so again, many thanks to UofL for all of their help with that. But, that’s Wednesday, we have a big game on Sunday so our eyes are fixed on that.”
On injury updates ahead of the Nashville trip:
“[Kyle Smith] obviously got a knock and had to get his eye glued and then went back on, but he’s a tough lad. We’re really pleased with how he’s been and great to Kyle for just getting on with it. I thought he could’ve done with some stitches but he was able to get it glued and get back in there. That’s the type of attitude that we want to see and it’s great that we have that with Kyle.”
On regrouping after the team’s first loss of the season:
“I think the biggest thing for us is the intensity in training, it’s been great. I think looking at Nashville, they’ve obviously got a lot of experience. The field there is a little narrower than what we’re used to playing on, so for us, it’ll be an interesting test because they’ve got some really good players, a very good coach, and it’s another regional rivalry. It’s a game we’re excited about and really looking forward to.”
On playing narrower:
“I think when we’re at our best we look to be big--as big as we can get--we’re very expansive. I think when it’s like that, it gives teams a chance to get men around the ball a little easier to pressure. But [Nashville] have been playing well, they’ve got some good results, some good football, so we need to be very mindful of them and to obviously make sure that what we need to do this week in regards to our training load and our intensity makes us prepped and ready to go for what will be a very tough game on Sunday.”
On if it’s easier to prepare having already played Nashville this year:
“I think the challenge was, in the first game of the season you’re never quite sure—brand new team, brand new franchise—you have maybe an idea of what you think you might get but you’re not sure. They’ve changed formation in the last couple of games so again, who’s to say they won’t change formation against us? We’ll just have to wait and see how the game goes. I’ve got a lot of respect for [Nashville SC coach] Gary [Smith], he’s a very experienced coach. They have very experienced players and they’ve signed David Edgar, who wasn’t involved the last time we played. For us, whether it’s Nashville or whatever team in the league, it’s going to be a very intense and very tough game, especially when you’ve got the regional rivalries with Cincinnati, Nashville, and Indy—they’re great games for us all to be involved in. We’re excited and looking forward to the game on Sunday.”
On being named Coach of the Month for April:
“It’s a testament to the players and to the work that [assistant coach] Daniel [Byrd] and [goalkeeping coach] Thabane [Sutu] have done. I get the title or award of Coach of the Month, but really the players have been exceptional. I think they deserve enormous credit and Daniel and Thabane, the work that they’ve been doing behind the scenes, I don’t think the two lads there get the credit they deserve. For me, I’m very pleased to accept it but I’m accepting it on behalf of the players and on behalf of Daniel and Thabane because they’ve been putting on some really solid work.”
On working with the University of Louisville for Lynn Stadium:
“It’s huge! For us, we obviously have our stadium coming in 2020 so for UofL to help us out like this, it’s massive. We’re very appreciative of the fact that we’re going to be able to go over there and play. We’re very grateful to them for helping us out and for solidifying the partnership. I get along great with Ken, have huge respect, great coach and he has a great program there. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to get that for Wednesday.”
OUT - Richard Ballard (stress fracture, out for foreseeable future)
QUESTIONABLE - Shaun Francis (hamstring)