Louisville City, for once, wasn’t the team upset with USL officiating. The home team was able to withstand a late push by Charlotte, and with the help of an incorrectly disallowed goal in stoppage time they ended the regular season with a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
A goal in stoppage time for Charlotte was incorrectly deemed to be taken from an offside position. The linesman somehow missed that Tarek Morad was standing in his own goal when the ball fell to the attacker, thus putting him behind the second-to-last defender. However, despite aggressive protests by the visitors, the goal was not given, and the match ended with a draw.
Manager James O’Connor stated that his focus in this match was to make sure they got through it without any injuries. “The changes were always going to happen at halftime,” he said of his multiple substitutions after the break. He was very happy with how the team opened up the match, but felt that the team was making poor decisions throughout the first half. He was, however, pleased with how the team fought back.
The best part of his comments after the match was his smile when he was asked what he thought of the officiating. You could tell that O’Connor was quite happy to finally be on the other end of a poor decision.
Louisville City had nothing to play for in this match, as they have sewn up the 2nd place finish in the East, and home field advantage through at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. However, Charlotte had plenty to play for. A win ensured them of home field in the first round of the playoffs, while a loss could see them finish anywhere between fourth and sixth place in the East.
Louisville City came out fired up, putting pressure on the defense straight away. However, they could not find many chances early, with the first major chance actually coming to Charlotte in the ninth minute on a free kick from about twenty-five yards out. The next few minutes saw Charlotte lay siege to the home goal, with the defense having to block numerous shots.
Louisville City had a great chance in the 14th minute off a corner kick, but the headed chance from Morad went just wide of the post from only a few yards out. It was a terrific chance for the hosts, and one that should have been finished. Then in the eighteenth minute, Cameron Lancaster got the ball and turned near the top of the area, but his shot went just wide of the far post.
Another great attack in the twenty-fourth minute saw City get a dangerous low cross into the area, but nobody could get on the end of it for what would have been a certain goal. The ensuing corner was sint into the area, and again the ball was again headed just wide by Morad from nearly the same spot.
The 35th minute saw some controversy, as Magnus Rasmussen was kicked hard in the ribs. The offender saw a yellow card, but it easily could have been red. After play resumed, Ranjitsingh made a great save to keep the match scoreless.
In the 43rd minute, Ranjitsingh came up huge again, stopping a hard hit shot from the edge of the area following a cross. However, he could do nothing a minute later, as Charlotte made their relentless pressure pay off. A turnover near the top of the box, and a slip by a defender, led to a free runner on the edge of the area. His cross from near the end-line found a sliding Brian Brown at the back post, as he put it into the back of the net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, which they would take into the half.
Louisville City struggled to get any offense going in the second half, with Kadeem Dacres, Rasmussen, and Lancaster all coming off at halftime. The opening minutes of the half nearly saw LCFC’s defense fall apart yet again, as a horrible back pass nearly led to a two-on-goal break. Luckily, Ranjitsingh immediately saw the danger and rushed off his line to clear the ball out.
Finally, in the 72nd minute, Louisville City broke through. A crossed ball seemed to bounce around in the area forever, before Chandler Hoffman’s shot was saved by the keeper. The ball then ricocheted off of a defender’s leg and redirected past the keeper and tied the match. While it appeared on replays to be a Hoffman goal, an HD replay available to the operations booth showed that it was an own goal.
From that point on, Charlotte pushed to try to get the crucial win, and Louisville City seemed content to sit back and try to hit on the break. It nearly worked, as Andrew Lubahn played a beautiful pass to Hoffman on the break, but the flag was raised on the forward. It was very close on replay, but nonetheless the goal did not count. Moments later, it was controversy at the other end, as Charlotte’s winner was waived off.
Charlotte sent their keeper forward for one final corner, and Louisville City was able to clear it. They then launched it deep down the pitch to try to score on the empty net, but were unable to do so. The match ended 1-1, as the Charlotte players collapsed to the ground in agony and disgust.
Louisville City will now rest up and prepare for a home first-round playoff match next Sunday evening against Richmond, who finished 7th after allowing two goals in the final twenty minutes of their 2-1 loss to Charleston on Saturday. Richmond fell 2-0 at Louisville City just two weeks ago, and have not won a match in their last five times out. “I would encourage everyone next week to come out and support us,” O’Connor said. He was thrilled with how the supporters stayed behind them all night, and hopes that they will continue to do so next weekend. Don’t let him down!!!