A year after a Richard Ballard penalty kick sent his side to the USL Cup championship, New York Red Bulls II and Louisville City face off in a third-straight showdown for the Eastern Conference championship.
Displaying some of its best defensive efforts during their current 8-game winning streak, LouCity recorded 4 clean sheets and conceded no more than one goal when other clubs added to the scoring sheet.
Though their stout defense has proven strong of late, a new challenge comes for head coach John Hackworth and Los Morados.
“It’s a club that is committed to a philosophy and a style of play and it’s very difficult,” said Coach Hackworth. “I think they have, like us, improved and are playing their best soccer at this time of year.”
Since joining LouCity, Hackworth has played a number of USL clubs in regular season play, though Red Bulls II was not one of them.
With an explosive attack displayed in their two matches with LouCity, Red Bulls II found the back of the net 3 or more times in eleven of their matches throughout the 2018 campaign. Two of those came against Louisville City as both sides combined for a whopping 16 goals through 180 minutes of play.
“It’s similar to last week in Bethlehem Steel, but I was paying close attention to last time,” Coach Hackworth said. “Again, I think Red Bulls II have dramatically improved since the last time these two teams have met.”
Similar to last year’s circumstance of advancing to the USL Cup on penalty kicks, Los Morados will be hosting their opponent and seeking to continue their unbeaten streak at Slugger Field in this year's USL playoffs.
“The fact that we’re playing at Slugger and having the crowd there – they have been tremendous,” added Coach Hackworth. “That’s our twelfth man and we know it’s going to happen.”