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Louisville Thrilled to Have Home Backing

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/01/17, 8:41PM EDT


Recent stadium announcement has added to club’s momentum

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The meeting of the Louisville Metro Council was ticking on into the night, which meant while the fans in the chamber were going to be able to stick it out until a vote came down, the Louisville City FC players who had joined them to support the club’s efforts at securing funding for a soccer-specific stadium had to head out to get their rest ahead of practice the following morning.

But make no mistake, once the players were home, the local television station airing the hearing was being closely followed by all.

“Guys wanted to make sure they were rested and in bed, but we had it on the TV because we were eager to know if the votes were going to pass,” said goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh. “I think it was about 11:30, guys stayed up, and once they announced it, it shot up through Twitter and WhatsApp, so everyone knew when the stadium was announced and was really excited about it.”

Last Thursday night’s announcement provided a prelude to Louisville continuing its outstanding home record at its current home, Slugger Field, on Saturday in a 1-0 victory against the Rochester Rhinos that sent the side to its third consecutive Eastern Conference Final. Only the second team in league history to be among the final four teams in the playoffs for three consecutive seasons – Orlando City SC’s run from 2011-13 being the first – Louisville will take aim on Saturday at its first trip to the USL Cup.

After the road disappointments the side has suffered each of the past two years at this stage, getting to play Saturday’s game against the No. 7-seed New York Red Bulls II at Slugger Field is an exciting proposition for the club.

“It’s huge,” said defender Kyle Smith. “Our fans come, they’re loud every game. We’re used to that field, it’s like protecting our home, so having that home advantage has been a big help in our playoff push this year. It’s a little different to last year when we had to go up and play in New York. Hopefully, it will play to our advantage again on Saturday.”

Certainly, Louisville’s postseason record at Slugger Field has been impeccable. The side has won all five of its previous playoff games at the venue and has yet to concede a goal in doing so. The side has also gone 26-7-12 on its home turf in the USL regular season, a testament to both the attention to detail the side has put in week in, week out.

“It’s just a credit to everyone’s hard work on our team,” said Smith. “We’re just taking it game by game, and the hard work has shown. We’ve been organized on defense, Greg’s done a great job in the net, he’s made some big saves, so we’ve just got to keep pushing and hopefully we can get two more games.”

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

While the side has worked to ensure a high standard on the field, the impact the club’s supporters have made on the organization has been greatly appreciated by the players. Louisville sat third in the USL this season with an average attendance of 8,627 at Slugger Field, but the support from the club’s fans doesn’t just manifest itself on gameday.

“It’s great, on and off the pitch,” said Ranjitsingh. “They come out to all the games, they show us great support, after the games we always show them love, giving them the high-fives, but even off the pitch, when we go to make appearances and within the community, they’re always out there.

“Even at the Council appearance, they stayed out there until 11:30, until the stadium was going to be built was announced. They are completely bought into what we’re doing here, and it’s great for us to be out in the community and show we appreciate what they’re doing, because without them, we don’t have this great atmosphere that we have at Slugger, which is going to attract a lot of fans and help the stadium get built and grow this sport in Louisville overall.”

Those fans are set to be part of another strong crowd expected on Saturday night, as Louisville’s players look to make amends for the disappointment of the past two seasons.

With a trip to the USL Cup on the line, there’s certainly no place like home for City.

“We have that sour taste in our mouth, having been there twice and not fully achieving what we want to,” said Ranjitsingh. “This is our third chance, and it would mean a lot for us. A lot of things have been going on in this city, a lot of news is coming out, and this would be the cherry on top – for us to bring an Eastern Conference title to the city.”

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