Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A sellout crowd of 13,812 fans were on hand as Louisville City FC claimed the River Cities Cup with an emphatic 5-0 victory against FC Cincinnati on Saturday night at Slugger Field. The crowd was the largest in Louisville’s history, and the fans were rewarded with the biggest margin of victory in a USL contest for the hosts. Louisville’s Sean Totsch threatened early with a shot that forced a save from FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt in the fourth minute, while Kyle Smith put a point-blank save straight at Hildebrandt to save four minutes later. City’s Oscar Jimenez also forced a good save with a fierce half-volley from the left side of the penalty area, but in the 16th minute Niall McCabe headed home into the left corner to put Louisville ahead. The hosts continued to hold the upper hand in the opening half-hour, and was then handed a man advantage as FCC defender Sem de Wit brought down Louisville forward Luke Spencer on a breakaway 25 yards from goal to see Cincinnati reduced to 10 men in the 36th minute. Spencer added a second for Louisville just before halftime with a powerful header from a corner kick, and Louisville continued to press their advantage into the second half. Just before the hour-mark a slipped pass by Spencer found Mark-Anthony Kaye for a low finish from near the penalty spot into the left corner to bring the crowd to its feet again. The hosts then made it four with 18 minutes to go as Spencer played in Richard Ballard in the left side of the penalty area, and he fired home high at the near post. Sean Reynolds then wrapped up the scoring with seven minutes to go, heading home Paco Craig’s angled ball into the right side of the penalty area to compete a historic night for Louisville.
16’ – LOU – Niall McCabe (Sean Totsch)
45+’ – LOU – Luke Spencer (Oscar Jimenez)
57’ – LOU – Mark-Anthony Kaye (Luke Spencer)
72’ – LOU – Richard Ballard (Luke Spencer)
83’ – LOU – Sean Reynolds (Paco Craig)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Louisville opened on the front foot from the opening whistle, and didn’t allow control of the game to be wrested from its control throughout the first half as it outshot Cincinnati 11-0, and took a two-goal lead on a pair of outstanding headers by Niall McCabe and Luke Spencer. The pressure Louisville placed on their visitors in their own half paid off regularly, creating turnovers and allowing City to maintain possession. After falling in the previous meeting between the clubs, the response to that – and last week’s loss to Charlotte – will have been exactly what Head Coach James O’Connor was looking for.
2. After making the move south to Louisville from Cincinnati this offseason, Luke Spencer’s goal against his former club will have been a sweet one for the former Xavier University standout. Spencer is now Louisville’s leading scorer this season thanks to his prodigious ability in the air, and his speed also produced a key moment in Saturday’s match as he outpaced FCC defender Sem de Wit to a through-ball before being brought down, resulting in De Wit’s red card. Spencer won’t reach the levels of his predecessors at center forward the past two seasons, but his performance on Saturday with two second-half assists was superlative on a night that provided a massive high in Louisville’s history.
3. If there’s any silver lining for Cincinnati from Saturday’s game, it was that about anything that could have gone wrong for the visitors, just about did. The disappointment of the performance will be added to by the pressure that will build on next Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls II, who are now only three points back of FCC in the Eastern Conference standings. All of that can be put aside, however, as the Semifinals of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup arrive on Tuesday night against the Red Bulls’ MLS squad, which will give Cincinnati a chance to show what it’s really made of on the national stage.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Luke Spencer, Louisville City FC – Spencer’s goal and two assists led the hosts to an emphatic victory that put City back into the middle of the battle for first in the Eastern Conference.
Louisville City FC at Bethlehem Steel FC – August 20, 5 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium
FC Cincinnati at New York Red Bulls II – August 19, 4 p.m. ET, MSU Soccer Park