After last week’s abysmal performance against Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC responded with a 2-1 over the Ottawa Fury on Saturday night.
Goals by Brian Ownby and Luke Spencer on either side of halftime gave Louisville City FC (8-2-4, 28 pts) all three points in front of 7,814 fans at Slugger Field.
“I have the top level of respect for our players,” O’Connor said. ” You look at the heart and how hard the work, it makes me very proud to be their coach.”
Louisville City head coach James O’Connor often sticks with his strongest XI, but he made two notables. Sean Reynolds replaced Tarek Morad at the center of the defense, and Ilija Ilic made a rare start over a fit Luke Spencer and Cameron Lancaster.
“The past two weeks Ilija had really good training sessions,” O’Connor said. “I think we got to a stage where we couldn’t play him based on his training. He deserved his chance, and I thought he was excellent. He led the line well and was unfortunate not to score.”
Brian Ownby continued to be the danger man for City and gave them the lead in the 14th minute. Forcing a turnover at midfield, Paolo DelPiccolo played a ball over the defense. Ownby controlled, dribbled past Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving and slid the ball into the open net for his team-leading four goals.
City’s defense came back into form and stifled Ottawa’s attack. It took nearly 30 minutes for the Fury to record their first shot of the game.
Ottawa almost equalized in the 36th minute. On a free kick, Irving sent in the cross that floated into the box. Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh went up to catch it, but mishandled, leaving the goal wide open. Ottawa pounced and fired, but the number of purple bodies in the box deflected the shot out for a corner.
Attacking by the numbers looked heavily in City’s favor, but that was not the case. The boys in purple had nine shots, five on goal, and were much more efficient and direct in their attack. TheFury, however, had a different approach to their attack. Despite being held to two shots, their wing play forced City into making 29 clearances.
The highlight of the second half was Louisville’s Mayor Fischer making a visit to the Supporters’ Section and beating the drums alongside the Coopers.
With chances drying up for City in the second half, O’Connor turned to Richard Ballard to provide offense. Ballard has a knack for making instant impact off the bench, and it paid dividends in the 68th minute. The ball fell for the Louisville native in the box and created a 1v1 with Irving. Irving made a huge save on Ballard, but his inability to completely control the rebound, the ball squirted out to Spencer, who scored from close range.
“It was chaotic,” Spencer said. “But Rich did a great job sticking with the play. Usually, players give up on those plays because they think the keeper might have it. Rich stayed with it, and the ball fell at my feet, so I just didn’t want to mess it up.”
Ottawa had chances to make it a game in the second half but squandered them. They went wide on a counterattack and had a goal waved off due to offside.
They did pull one back in the 88th by Steevan Dos Santos, but they would rue the missed chances earlier in the match.
Louisville City will revisit the Eastern Conference’s best Charleston Battery on Saturday, July 8. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.