Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC and Saint Louis FC played to a 0-0 draw in front of a crowd of 6,758 fans at Louisville Slugger Field in the opening game of the 2017 USL regular season on Saturday afternoon. Louisville had the first big chance in the ninth minute as a header by Tarek Morad came back off the crossbar from a corner kick, one of 16 earned by City in the game. The hosts had the upper hand in possession for much of the opening half-hour, and a long-range shot by George Davis IV forced a save by STLFC goalkeeper Devala Gorrick. Louisville’s Cameron Lancaster also had a big opportunity on the volley, only for Gorrick to parry his shot from 25 yards wide, while City’s Niall McCabe almost scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute with six minutes to go. Saint Louis’ A.J. Cochran almost grabbed a late winner for Saint Louis as his header off a corner was cleared from inside the six-yard area in the 87th minute, but the game ended all square as neither side was able to find the breakthrough.
Three Things That Matter:
1. Louisville City FC rookie Richard Ballard had drawn praise consistently throughout the preseason from City Head Coach James O’Connor, and in his professional debut it was clear to see why. A native of Louisville, the former Indiana University winger proved a perfect fit on the right side as he looked to fill the shoes of the departed Kadeem Dacres, and combined well with Kyle Smith as Louisville consistently pushed up the right side to create regular chances.
2. Louisville’s other two major newcomers to the midfield, Speedy Williams and Brian Ownby also looked right in place in their new surroundings, with the Jamaican spraying the ball around the field well alongside Paolo DelPiccolo – who himself was excellent both in open play and delivering set pieces – and Ownby threatening whenever he had the chance to get one-on-one. The end product wasn’t quite there as consistently as it might have been, but there was plenty to build on for Louisville as they head to Orlando on Thursday night.
3. Saint Louis sported an almost entirely new starting lineup to begin the Preki era, with center back A.J. Cochran the lone holdover from the 2016 squad to see action on Saturday afternoon. Cochran and his central defensive partner Konrad Plewa proved a saving grace for the side, regularly clearing crosses away to safety. Saint Louis improved in the second half, earning more possession as the midfield began to link up more efficiently, but newcomers like Sebastian Dalgaard and Christian Volesky underwhelmed overall on their STLFC debuts.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Paolo DelPiccolo, Louisville City FC – Louisville’s captain had a stellar performance as the hosts controlled the center of the field, and his set piece deliveries almost delivered the goal City needed for victory.
Louisville City FC at Orlando City B – March 30, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium
Saint Louis FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC – April 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis