It wasn’t pretty by any means, but a win is a win. And in the US Open Cup, that’s the only thing that matters. Just ask The Villages.
In one of the most exciting finishes in the club’s short history, Louisville City scored an equalizing goal late in extra time, and came out on top in a spot-kick shootout as they defeated Detroit City FC 1-1 (3-1) on Wednesday night in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup. Scott Goodwin came up with a key save in the shootout after allowing a goal in the 104th minute, and super-sub Ilija Ilic came off the bench to score the equalizer in the 114th’ minute, along with one of the spot kicks.
It was a very testy match throughout, as the referee often struggled to maintain control of the match. There was shoving matches throughout, which the referee never really did anything about, and it led to an extra period where he had no choice but to start giving out red cards like candy on Halloween. It started with a penalty in the 98th minute, when Ilic was taken down in the box. Cameron Lancaster, another substitute who scored the match-winning spot kick, saw his penalty saved by a great diving stop from DCFC’s keeper. However, as the ball was being set up for a corner, William Stevens took out an LCFC player and was sent off. A few minutes later, the referee followed that up by sending off the DCFC manager, to the delight of the crowd.
A minute later, an unwarranted free kick was given to the visitors, and they made the most of it. The kick was sent into the box, and it was headed in past the charging Goodwin to put DCFC up 1-0. The crowd, while still supportive, was utterly stunned by this turn of events. The players pressed on and attempted to break down the bus that was the DCFC defense. However, things got worse for Louisville City when Conor Shanosky was sent off for a second yellow in the 110th minute.
Five minutes later, none of that mattered. Ilic got the ball inside the area after a terrific dummy by Aodhan Quinn set him in on goal, and he did not miss as he curled a shot into the far corner to knot it up at 1-1. The fans and the players went nuts, knowing that their Cup run had been saved from an embarrassing defeat. Nobody would score in the final six minutes, and thus came the dreaded spot-kick shootout.
It started poorly for LCFC, as their first shot from Quinn was saved and Goodwin was unable to reciprocate. But that was the last DCFC would get to cheer. Their next three shots would hit the crossbar, be saved by Scotty, and go over the bar, respectively. Meanwhile, Paolo DelPiccolo would convert along with Ilic, followed by a save on George Davis IV’s shot. However, Lancaster would get the last laugh, as he buried his shot to give Louisville City the win.
After the match, James O’Connor praised the players for their tireless work even after the goal was allowed, stating that they were a true team. “People see our starting eleven and think ‘Oh, that’s Louisville City’,” he said. “But we aren’t eleven players, we are twenty three players. I’d start all twenty-three of them if I could. They are a team.” He praised their character and their determination to win the match, with special praise for Scott.
Goodwin was impressed with the fight in his team, and also in the support of the fans. “Even with the smaller crowd than we have at Slugger, it felt louder,” he said. “In a penalty shootout like that, you need every little bit of energy.” When asked if it helped taking the shootout in front of the Coopers, he laughed and said “Oh absolutely, I asked for it on that side for sure.”
The first half of action was testy at times, but the run of play was dominated by Louisville City. Unfortunately it did not lead to many scoring chances, as the connections in the final third were lacking. Louisville did nearly take a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Conor Shanosky header from a corner kick, but his attempt on goal in the 8th minute was cleared off the line by the head of defender William Stevens.
There was a scary moment in the first half when Kadeem Dacres had a chance on goal and was denied by the keeper. As he tried to score, the keeper got his foot and Kadeem stumbled into the netting that was located behind and beside the goal, landing awkwardly as he went into it. For the next half hour or so, he was limping noticeably when he wasn’t running, and was subbed off at halftime. Hopefully he is not injured too much, as he has been key to the team’s success early this season.
Quinn could have easily seen a red card in the 34th minute, as he was shown only yellow for a silly challenge where he came in with the boot off the ground. Luckily for us, the red stayed in the pocket. Kadeem was also shown a caution in first half stoppage time, as he pushed a player high in the chest (nearly in the neck) while going for a ball. This led to some shoving—again—but only Kadeem saw yellow, as the referee continued to lack control of the match.
Cameron came on for Kadeem at halftime and he nearly scored within a few minutes, but his header went just wide of the post. This began a long stretch of great chances for LCFC. GD4 continued to terrorize the defense, and he had multiple chances in the second half to score but was continually thwarted. The keeper for DCFC made a few big saves as his defense began to park the bus to the point of slashing the tires. GD4, Lubahn, and Newnam would all have good chances in the second half, but few had a better chance than Lancaster. In the 86th minute, Lancaster got a ball near the top of the box and took it on the volley, blasting it off of the goalpost as many of the fans thought we might have gotten a winner.
In the end, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it was a win, and in the Cup competition that is all that matters. It will be interesting to see who gets the start on Saturday, as 120 minutes on that turf has a lot of players banged up. It did not help that it was such a physical match with such reckless challenges, as Coach O’Connor said after the match that multiple players will need treatment. Kadeem’s injury is the most worrisome, but it remains to be seen if that will cause him to miss time. There’s also that whole “who starts in goal now” thing, a decision I’m truly glad I don’t have to make.
Now, it’s on to Richmond to play that jerk of a midfielder that we all know and love, Mike Callahan. The match kicks off at 7pm on Saturday, and we will have a watch party at Saints so don’t miss it. The next action in the USOC will be a trip to Indianapolis to take on Indy 11. Somewhere, Mothra is celebrating a reunion.