Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a recent home victory, Louisville City FC midfielder Speedy Williams posted on the whiteboard in the team’s locker room at Slugger Field that the next penalty kick the side earned was going to be his to take.
On Saturday night, to the delight of his teammates, the Jamaican international got his wish. Williams’ second-half goal – his first of the regular season – capped a standout display in City’s 3-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium.
“Speedy’s done so well,” said Louisville forward Luke Spencer. “He’s been another guy who’s been in and out of the team and had to sacrifice for the team. He earned the Jamaican call-up for his hard work, and today he was brilliant. We wanted to reward our teammate for working hard on the pitch. We know he doesn’t always necessarily get the reward.”
Louisville Head Coach James O’Connor’s policy of squad rotation has highlighted the depth of his squad this season, now sitting three points clear at the top of the USL Eastern Conference standings, but it has also meant the portioning out of minutes to those in the front six for City over the season. Only Oscar Jimenez has surpassed 2,000 minutes played out of a possible 2,250 this season for the side, with Williams’ minutes sitting closer to 50 percent of that maximum.
On Saturday, going up against a good Riverhounds midfield, Williams dominated. Defensively he was strong, recording four interceptions and winning two tackles, but it was his distribution that shone the most as he completed 81 of 95 passes and won all eight of his regular and aerial duels.
“He had a very strong performance,” said O’Connor. “When you look at, even at the end, his energy with the way he’s closing people down and getting back to the midfield. He’s always looking to spin it forward. He’s got good quality and a solid future ahead of himself.”
Williams wasn’t the only player to shine on the night. Restored to the starting lineup, Spencer notched his ninth goal of the season to get Louisville off and running against a Pittsburgh defense that proved stout over the opening half-hour. Kyle Smith’s return to the lineup also saw him find the net as the wing back also created two scoring opportunities over the contest.
Despite that, the night belonged to Williams, whose industry in the center of midfield set the stage for an important road victory for City.
I was happy for him, he deserves it,” said Smith of Williams. “He’s one of the hardest workers. He shows up every day, and I can tell in every practice and every game. He’s someone I look up to because of his work ethic. It’s great to see him get a goal.”