Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – No. 2-seed Louisville City FC will open its second consecutive playoff appearance as it plays host to the No. 7-seed Richmond Kickers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Slugger Field on Sunday afternoon, as City aims to return to the Eastern Conference Final for a second consecutive season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Louisville City FC news and notes
Regular Season record: 17-4-9, 59pts
Louisville earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference for a second consecutive season as the club picked up where it left off a year ago with a strong, balanced squad that remained in contention for first for much of the year.
City saw changes from its first season with the notable departures of Matt Fondy and Bryan Burke, but more than adequately replaced them with Chandler Hoffman leading the team in goals, and Kyle Smith in assists.
The club also saw significant contributions from new additions Paolo DelPiccolo and Ben Newnam, while goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh took over the starting goalkeeper role impressively enough to earn a call-up to the Trinidad & Tobago national team.
Curiously, Louisville was more impressive away from home than at Slugger Field in the regular season, as it claimed 11 of its 17 wins on the road, second only to the New York Red Bulls II in the USL.
Richmond Kickers news and notes
Regular Season record: 12-9-9, 45pts
The Kickers returned to the USL Cup Playoffs for a sixth consecutive season thanks to a midseason surge that saw the side go on a 10-game undefeated streak (7-0-3) the effectively booked its postseason berth.
Richmond ended the season on somewhat of a downturn, however, as it went winless in its final five games, including back-to-back defeats to close the season when a shot at a top-four place was within reach.
Japanese midfielder Yudai Imura had a breakout year in his second season for the club as he led the team with 10 goals, and also chipped in three assists while playing both as a holding midfielder and in a more advanced position.
The Kickers’ defense remained among the most sound in the USL, as the side conceded only 26 goals despite having to utilize six different goalkeepers after an early injury to Ryan Taylor.
Louisville City FC – M Aodhan Quinn: Louisville’s captain didn’t put up eye-popping numbers with three goals and three assists in the regular season, but his consistency at the center of the side’s midfield was key to the club’s success. Quinn’s ability to pick out the right pass to get Louisville on the front foot against a well-organized Kickers defense will be crucial as City looks to take victory in the second home playoff game in the club’s history.
Richmond Kickers – D Hugh Roberts: The third-year pro came into the spotlight to an even greater degree this season as one of only two players in the league to play every minute of every game. Roberts’ speed and ability in the air will be put to the test by a versatile Louisville attack, but if the Kickers find a way to get a lead on the road, the former George Mason standout could be the man to help bring the victory home.
2016 Team leaders
Goals: Louisville – Chandler Hoffman, 14; Richmond – Yudai Imura, 10
Assists: Louisville – Kyle Smith, 6; Richmond – Brian Ownby, Yudai Imura, 3
Louisville claimed the regular-season series between the teams thanks to a 2-0 victory at Slugger Field on Sept. 10 that might have been the team’s best performance of the season. Louisville has won both of its encounters with Richmond on home turf, and earned draws in both of its visits to City Stadium in its first two seasons in the USL.
REF: Andrew Musashe
AR1: James Dumstorf
AR2: Tony Crush
4TH: Joshua Brooks
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