100 USL games for one club: it’s a rare feat. One so rare that four years into Louisville City FC’s history, there is only one man who will be able to etch his name into that particular part of City’s early chapters.
Midfielder Niall McCabe has been here since the beginning. He’s seen teammates come and go, experienced two coaching changes in one season (shout out to the Triumvirate), and won the ultimate prize in the form of a USL Cup at the culmination of a brilliant year last season. And on Tuesday night against North Carolina FC, he will again take another step forward by becoming LouCity’s first-ever Centurion.
“It doesn’t feel like four seasons—no way. It all kind of blends in. We’ve done so well in these four years—conference finalists to eventually winning everything—the breaks are shorter and that’s good so it just makes it all feel a bit blended,” he said.
“Just reaching 100 games, though, I never thought that would happen. When I first signed, if someone had told me I’d be the first player to reach that, I’d have called them a liar. I’m really happy with it, it’s something I’m proud of.”
Joining the club after a successful trial under former head coach James O’Connor ahead of the 2015 season, McCabe has long been a contributor to what Louisville City has accomplished. Club’s don’t often experience such quick and continued success, though, and for that McCabe counts himself lucky.
“It’s obviously a huge honor. Winning the USL Cup last year was incredible because we put in so much hard work. The other previous two years, though, when we got to the conference finals we only came up a little bit short,” said McCabe.
“I think for such a new team to be able to be that successful—not just one season of success—but having continued success over four years, it takes a special group of people to be able to do that. Thankfully, we’ve had those people on board and not just on the team, but the staff as well.”
However, despite continued success on and off the field, reaching the century mark of games played was not a possibility in McCabe’s mind when he first came on board in 2015. Now, nearly four years later, the 28-year-old relishes the chance to reach that marker for this city and its fans, especially.
“It means a hell of a lot. I never take anything for granted and I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do. It’s not just a job, it’s something that I would be doing anyway whether it was professionally or not,” said McCabe.
“All the guys that have stepped out there, we know the fans have our back 100% and because I’ve been here since the beginning, I may have that extra little bit of affection which I’m grateful for. I love our fans and I think they’re the best. The support they give us is incredible and I can’t speak highly enough of them. Hopefully, we can give them a few more smiles from now until the end of the season.”
Both McCabe and the team are not finished, though, with plans to defend their USL Cup well in motion.
“It’s very important to play at home and have all of those fans come out. It gives you that advantage where we can stick to our routine, train at our complex, sleep in our own beds and do the same stuff. Having that routine helps a lot,” said McCabe.”
“Then to play on our field in front of our fans, it definitely gives us the upper hand for sure. Our fans are loud and they really get behind us so it’s tough for opposing teams to come to Slugger Field. Hopefully we can have our 12th man again.”
That 12th man will be present on Tuesday, and may be louder than ever for one man in particular: LouCity’s lone centurion, Niall McCabe.