Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC had been planning its trip to Pittsburgh this weekend for the USL regular season clash between since the schedule was announced early this year, but thanks to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup the side will get an extended stay in the Steel City as it heads to face Tartan Devils Oak Avalon on Wednesday night in the tournament’s Second Round, also at Highmark Stadium.
The Tartan Devils earned victory in a penalty shootout last Wednesday night against the PDL’s River City Rovers after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime, sending Head Coach James O’Connor’s side to Highmark Stadium three days earlier than originally planned.
“We’ll travel up Tuesday, we’ll play Wednesday night and then obviously we’ll stay up there,” said O’Connor on Monday to reporters. “It’s pointless coming back Thursday to go back up Friday, so we’ll train in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday and then play [the Riverhounds] on Saturday. That’ll be a tough game as well, but we’re not looking toward the league game now, we’ve got a big game on Wednesday night and our focus is on Wednesday night.”
Louisville is coming off its first defeat of the USL season on Saturday, a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Despite the defeat, which saw Louisville threaten to take the lead before Georgi Hristov’s opening goal for the Rowdies just before the hour-mark,
“It was very positive about a lot of things in the game, especially first half,” said midfielder Guy Abend. “I mean, I think we played well. The intensity was good. There are just days when the ball doesn’t go in, and it’s part of the game.”
In terms of preparations, and planning for two games over the next four days that will be followed by a break until at least May 31 – when a potential Third Round Open Cup clash with FC Cincinnati could be waiting should both teams win on Wednesday – O’Connor said he was going to evaluate where his players were to ensure the team gets the results it’s looking for.
“I think it’s all open, and we’ll see how it goes,” said O’Connor. “I think it’s important that we get good minutes into some guys, perhaps get a couple that maybe need a rest, and then make sure that we have enough quality and our attitude and mentality is right for a tough game on Wednesday night.”
Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
Louisville is looking to return to return to the tournament’s Fourth Round and another shot at MLS opposition – City fell 1-0 in overtime to the Chicago Fire in the 2015 edition of the tournament – meaning there’s plenty at stake as the team looks to rebound from its first setback this season.
City’s player are expecting a test from the Tartan Devils, though, and certainly won’t look ahead to their game with the Riverhounds before a place in the next round of the Open Cup is secured.
“It is nice to have a game straight away, and to get a good result will affect us immediately, but we never look down on teams, we never take anything away from teams,” said Abend, “We’re going to do our homework against them, and hopefully we’re going to put on a good show.”