While we wait for the 2019 USL season to begin on March 9, take a look at eight potentially key home dates in City's pursuit for a third consecutive USL Cup!
1) March 23 vs. Hartford Athletic
The Hartford Athletic come to town for the first-ever meeting between the two sides when City opens its 2019 home slate on Saturday, March 23, and expectations will be high in both camps.
The back-to-back USL champions are returning a significant part of last year’s title-winning roster, while a fresh-faced Hartford squad will look to stun the title-winners in their first trip to Louisville. How will City’s first return to Slugger Field since the Eastern Conference Finals play out?
2) March 30 vs. Birmingham Legion FC
City’s second home game against Birmingham Legion FC won’t be a write-off, either. Legion FC have made it clear since inception their intent to challenge for a trophy in November and are led up front by former City talisman Chandler Hoffman. With three games under their belt to this point, City will have to get up for a challenging Birmingham side in their fourth contest.
3) April 6 vs. Riverhounds SC
After meetings with Hartford and Birmingham, a home clash against Riverhounds SC is on tap.
Pittsburgh was one of few teams to really give City problems in both of their meetings last year. In June, the Bob Lilley-led side gave City its first home defeat of the season in an 0-1 loss midweek at Slugger. In September, City could not hold on for all three points as a late goal from Pittsburgh stole a point from the visitors at Highmark.
Historically one of the tougher sides in the East, City’s first game in April will not be easy.
4) April 30 vs. Memphis 901 FC
The team’s first midweek game sees them host Memphis 901 FC for the first time in Louisville. Despite an early meeting in preseason, this is the first time three points are at stake. Like Birmingham, Memphis has also been clear about their aspirations to challenge in the East.
April is too early to begin picking out title challengers, sure. But Memphis will look for an early advantage in the series with the two not meeting again until season’s end.
5) May 18 vs. Saint Louis FC
Familiar foes and friendly ones at that, Saint Louis FC’s return to the Eastern Conference has made waves. Now with a few former Cit players rostered for the 2019 season, STLFC’s return to Louisville will be a celebrated one by both sets of fans. May is about the time teams begin picking up momentum, meaning this Kings Cup clash could tip the scales before big summer for both sides.
6) July 6 vs. Nashville SC
LouCity and Nashville SC squared off a four times last season. Let that sink in.
The champions defeated NSC, 2-0, to open the year last March before falling to the Music City squad on Mother’s Day in Nashville. Then, City’s victory over Nashville in the U.S. Open Cup in June tipped the scales back in their favor. In the final meeting of the year, the two produced a scoreless draw in coach John Hackworth’s first match in charge.
Now, Nashville are back and are again looking formidable ahead of their final season in the USL. Returning a large part of their roster and signing former Golden Boot winner Cameron Lancaster, Nashville is poised to make a run at the USL Cup. Outside of a preseason match at IMG Academy, this will be the first time the two see each other this year.
7) August 30 vs. Indy Eleven
For the first time since City’s Quarterfinal bashing of Indy Eleven in October, LIPAFC will return to Slugger Field.
City and Indy also met four times last year in total with the USL champions falling in May in Indy before earning a point at home in August in the first two games. Then, City won back-to-back games in the season finale and USL Playoffs in Louisville to gain the series advantage.
A rivalry elevated by proximity, offseason moves for both sides will be sure to add to the intensity come August.
8) September 28 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
One of the more intriguing developing stories of the year will be the strength of usual Eastern Conference contenders, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
City’s two matches against Tampa last year were both tight affairs but Los Morados came out the other side with six points in hand. A meeting in late March saw the hosts Louisville earn a 1-0 win thanks to a scything run and finish by Oscar Jimenez following a bit of brilliance in vision from the captain Paolo DelPiccolo. Then, in the team’s first match led by the triumvirate of George Davis IV, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Luke Spencer, City earned a fantastic 2-1 win in Tampa after a pinpoint free kick from Cameron Lancaster late on.
This is one match that could have major playoff implications with things wrapping up in mid-October.