Louisville City FC hosts North Carolina FC for midweek match rescheduled from Saturday, March 24, but with far more implications at this stage in the year then there were then.
LouCity, who has won four straight games, is in pole position to claim the two seed should they earn positive results over the final two contests after Riverhounds SC drew scoreless with FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.
The visitors, meanwhile, are just outside the playoff race and need all three points to keep hopes of extending their season alive.
When & Where
The match is set to take place on Tuesday, October 9 at Slugger Field with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
TV: WBNA TV-21
RADIO: 790 WKRD
Where They Stand
Louisville City FC:
17-6-9, 60 points - 2nd in EC
North Carolina FC:
12-12-8, 44 points - 10th in EC
Last Time Out
John Hackworth opted for three changes as Luke Spencer, Ilija Ilic, and Jonathan Lewis all entered the starting XI for City’s lone visit to Toronto.
Attacking from the outset, it didn’t take long for City to get off the mark as Ilija Ilic found the back of the net just 11 minutes in. With the ball bouncing around in the air, a Toronto FC II defender headed down into the penalty area where Ilic was waiting in the wings, and the Serbian forward had little trouble beating TFC II ‘keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell to gift his side the advantage.
After dictating the pace of the match and keeping Toronto at bay throughout the rest of the half, City would double their advantage just before the break thanks to defender Alexis Souahy. Again finding dangerous opportunities from set-pieces, defender Oscar Jimenez delivered an in-swinging free kick that was met by the head of the Frenchman and buried in the back of the net. The goal was Souahy’s third of the season.
At the halftime interval, City held a comfortable 0-2 lead.
After 81 minutes and the introduction of Golden Boot leader Cameron Lancaster, City added a third as the Englishman again could not be kept off the scoresheet. Fed off a perfectly weighted pass from Ilija Ilic, Lancaster took just the one touch before slotting past Patterson-Sewell with ease for his 22nd goal of the season to increase his lead in the USL.
Right at the death, though, Toronto would ruin City’s clean sheet as substitute Jordan Perruzza pounced on a loose ball in the box and clipped an effort with his left foot that barely beat Dobrowolski for the hosts’ lone goal of the night.
Rewind against North Carolina FC
A slow start saw NCFC test Ranjitsingh a few times in the opening minutes, with midfielder Steven Miller getting the first solid look on goal just five minutes in. Eventually firing off a short one-two with a teammate, Miller watched as his right-footed effort clipped the outside of the post and away from goal. However, six minutes later, NCFC found their first goal of the evening. Breaking into the middle, forward Daniel Rios nodded home a pass by Kyle Bekker from close range to go in front.
With 39 minutes gone, Jimenez delivered a perfect ball in from a corner that landed squarely on the head of defender Paco Craig and bounced into the back of the net. The goal was Craig’s second of the season in all competitions and the first in the USL regular season. An onslaught of chances came for City at the end of the first half but they could not capitalize on late pressure and went level into the halftime break.
Just before the hour mark, an attacking move from City looked like it had broken down before the ball somehow fell loosely to Ilic in the box. Turning around a few defenders, Ilic pulled himself away from goal and produced a clever finish at the back post to give his side the lead.
As NCFC continued to pile bodies forward, reinforcements for City in the form of Shaun Francis, Cameron Lancaster, and Pat McMahon were brought on. The home side kept knocking on goal as time ticked on, and in the 87th minute, the game’s final goal came in the form of an NCFC equalizer. Substitute midfielder Tiyi Shipalane found Rios again and again the forward produced, beating Ranjitsingh for the second time on the evening.
Despite an incredible effort in coming back from down a goal, City could not secure all three points and instead kept an important point on the road in returning home.
Coach John Hackworth's pre-NC assessment
On his rating of the team’s form:
“I would give us an 8/10 right now. We still have to be better at the end of games. We’ve given up goals where we should’ve been able to manage the game better and gave up goals at the end. I think we need to be stronger in the second half of games. We’ve been really strong in the first half of games but we’ve been managing along in the second half and we can’t let our level drop.
“I’d like to see us be more complete from the first whistle to the last. I know I’m asking a lot but as we go into the final stretch heading into the playoffs, we’re going to be tested and we need to be closer to a 9/10. We’re going to be challenged by the best teams in the east when we get there and we have to be a 10 if we’re going to go the way through.”
On any growing pains:
“Our schedule and the different venues in the league right now, even this current schedule we’re on of Friday, Tuesday, and then Saturday, that’s been most difficult for all of us to manage. I’ve watched from afar in the USL but until you coach and play in it, and one game you’re on one surface and the next you’re on something completely different … if you look at the game in Toronto—not that that’s a bad field—but there were so many lines on it. That plays a factor in how we perform.”
On Tuesday night in Louisville:
“We hope it’s a beautiful night out in Louisville. North Carolina has no other choice but to come out and try to win the game and we love to play, so all of us could be in for an entertaining evening I’d say.”
KY Lottery Kees to the Game
Just two games left in the regular season and LouCity needs to take as many points as possible to keep the momentum rolling. Here are the KY Lottery Kees to the Game for #LOUvNC on Tuesday:
QUESTIONABLE - Magnus Rasmussen (Knee Sprain)