Louisville City FC is the 2017 USL Cup Champion. The boys in purple captured their first USL Championship in just three years of establishment after Cameron Lancaster’s 88th-minute header proved to be the decider.
City had a stern task of taking down the Western Conference’s best, who were returning to their second consecutive USL Cup Final. Every seat around the stadium looked filled. Fans wrapped around the entire perimeter as a sellout crowd of 14,456, the second-largest attendance in USL history, created an unforgettable atmosphere. Hence forth, the game was just as advertised.
“We’ve grown so much,” Paolo DelPiccolo said. “Not just on the field. Obviously, we know we’ve gotten better through a few years, but the fans, how everything comes together. It was really an accumulation of not just the front office, not just the players, but the whole city.”
A free-flowing game for both sides led to chances early. A free kick for Louisville led to defender Paco Craig volleying home from close range after just seven minutes, but the linesman had his flag raised for offside, sending Slugger Field into a massive booing frenzy.
Kharlton Belmar found the back of the net in the 26th minute after clever passing put Swope Park Rangers’ striker into a 1v1 with Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, but the linesman too had his flag raised, keeping the score level at 0-0 at halftime.
SPR came out the aggressors in the second half and ultimately looked the better team. They had more fluidity in their attack, which led to shots on goal. City’s defense bent but did not break, much due in part of Ranjitsingh, putting on a man-of-the-match performance to keep the boys in purple in the game.
City found their footing in the last five minutes of regulation and broke through from Lancaster in the 88th minute. Speedy Williams found space on the right flank and centered the ball for the English international to head home to the right post to seal the game.
With five minutes of added time, SPR had multiple set pieces chances to equalize, but Ranjistingh recorded his 11th and final clean sheet of the 2017 season to claim their second major trophy in the club’s history.