For the fourth straight season, Louisville City FC is headed to the Eastern Conference Final, this time looking to advance to the USL Cup for the second consecutive year.
Their opposition--New York Red Bulls II--are familiar foes given that City has faced the "Baby Bulls" in the last two conference finals, making this the third straight season they will lock horns.
City comes in off the back of a truly dominant display in a 2-0 win over Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday, while Red Bulls II defeated FC Cincinnati in Cincinnati in the other conference semifinal.
When & Where
The match is set to take place on Friday, November 2 at Slugger Field with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
RADIO: 790 WKRD
Where They Stand
#2 Louisville City FC:
18-6-9, 66 points - 2nd in EC
#5 New York Red Bulls II:
13-8-13, 52 points - 5th in EC
Last Time Out
Hosting Bethlehem Steel FC for the second time this season, Louisville City FC spent their Saturday night in search for their fourth trip to the Eastern Conference finals in as many years of existence.
With temperatures dropping to the lower 50s by kickoff, Steel FC spent the first 20 minutes successfully pressing the home side and creating multiple scoring chances, one being a free kick in the 17th minute.
With a chance to strike first, Bethlehem’s James Chambers attempted to sneak one under the wall, failing to get the ball up and over the wall thanks to a strong defensive hold from LouCity.
Turning the page on the match, LouCity’s first chance yielded a goal as Brian Ownby slotted a brilliant one past the visiting goalkeeper Jake McGuire thanks to yet another Oscar Jimenez assist.
Neither side would find the back of the net the rest of the half as Louisville City entered the break with the 1-0 lead.
Both sides started the second 45 minutes in similar fashion to the first, with a continuous fight for possession as neither club found a true scoring opportunity.
However, after regaining possession in midfield in the 59th minute, LouCity’s Niall McCabe fed a fantastic through ball to Ownby in the open field, who eventually slipped another past McGuire and doubled the hosts’ lead.
The remaining 31 minutes of play were spent with few opportunities for the Steel as LouCity ‘keeper Greg Ranjitsingh and company recorded the clean sheet and knocked off Steel FC, 2-0.
Coach John Hackworth's pre-NY assessment
On his message to the group this week:
“Just trying to stick to our process and understand that we’re playing an opponent that has been as good and as successful as we have been as a club in recent years and it’s everything to play for. There’s a trophy on the line. The obvious goal is to advance and to make it to the final.
On the play of NYRBII as of late:
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment by them. I know [coach] John Wolyniec well and he always does an excellent job with those guys. I know some of their players pretty well, too, and it’s a club that is committed to a philosophy and a style of play and it’s very difficult to beat. They have—like us—improved and are playing their best soccer at this time of the year.”
On his first game against Red Bulls II:
“It’s similar to last week with Bethlehem Steel but I was paying closer attention to [the August 10 meeting against] Red Bulls II last time and they have dramatically improved since the last time these two teams have met. The matchup has some similarities and traits and moments that both teams are going to look at and try and take advantage of. It should be an excellent game.”
On a big crowd at Slugger Field:
“Look, we’ve enjoyed being here in the ‘Ville. We are making sure that we do everything we could off the field to prepare from our rest and nutrition and just being comfortable with our process on how we go into games at home. The fact that we’re playing at Slugger [Field] and in front of our crowd tomorrow, they have been tremendous. That’s our 12th man. We know it’s going to happen again tomorrow night.”
On the expectation of making it to this stage since his arrival in August:
“I was telling my wife last time on the phone that it never stops. You want more and more and I said it in a couple of interviews earlier this week, this group is just a great group to be around and coach and exchange ideas. They like to be pushed. I’m enjoying it and I hope it continues.”