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Louisville City 4-1 Toronto FC II

Louisville City may want to file a petition to play ToronTwo at home more often.

A brace from midfielder Guy Abend helped Louisville City beat Toronto FC II by a score of 4-1 at Slugger Field on Tuesday night. For the hosts, it was the second time hosting the team from America’s Hat, with both matches resulting in a four-goal haul from the boys in purple.

Louisville City returned home for the first of four matches in a row at the friendly confines of Slugger, following a trip to Rochester that saw the visitors end the Rhinos’ two-year home unbeaten streak. The league leaders hosted a TFC II side that sits third from the bottom in the East, with only 17 goals in 15 matches coming into the night.

An announced crowd of over 7,000 saw the home team concede a penalty in the early minutes, as Tarek Morad took down a Toronto attacker in the area four minutes into the match. However, the penalty kick was sent down the middle, and the diving Greg Ranjitsingh was able to keep it out with a great leg save.

That save seemed to fire up the home side, as LCFC immediately began to create opportunities at the offensive end. The following minutes would see a pair of great chances for Niall McCabe, including a shot in the 11th minute that was only kept out by a tremendous save from Toronto keeper Phil Di Bennardo.

However, the first goal would come off of the ensuing corner kick. Niall would receive the short corner and send it into the box, where it seemed to elude everyone on defense. It would get headed back towards the front post, and Guy Abend would poke it home for his second goal of the season.

Chandler Hoffman nearly made it 2-0 a few minutes later, as a terrific ball was played into him on the left side of the box. However, he was under pressure and was unable to get the shot on target as he charged in. Then, in the 23rd minute, he got another great opportunity as a cross was drilled in from the right, but it was deflected just before it reached his outstretched foot and sent out for a corner.

It didn’t matter, however, as the second—and third—goal came shortly thereafter. A cross from George Davis IV near the endline found Abend near the penalty spot, and he slotted it home to double the lead. For Abend, he stated that it was his first match of his career with a brace, and it signified a great moment for him, as he missed much of last season due to the injury he received in the second match of the year.

Less than a minute later, the lead was extended again, as Mark-Anthony Kaye provided a near carbon-copy cross, this time coming from the right. Beating his man, he got to the end line and sent the ball into the area, and Niall McCabe was there to sweep it home, making it 3-0.

The offense seemed to slow down after that, as the guests had nothing for Louisville City. Coach O’Connor, who has often spoken out when the team has sat on their laurels following an early goal explosion, was once again frustrated as he went into the half, seeing the team turn it over and not go for the jugular with a fourth goal.

The second half saw multiple substitutions, which affected the team’s rhythm all over the pitch. It became difficult for the side to maintain possession at times, and there were not many good chances. However, they capitalized on their best one of the half, as a foul on Kaye led to a free kick from the left side. Substitution Paolo DelPiccolo would whip a cross to the near post, where Morad was able to get to it first, heading it past the keeper to make it 4-0.

Toronto would finally begin getting some chances in the final fifteen minutes or so, and they denied Ranjitsingh a clean sheet in the 79th minute, as Shaan Hundal would score a goal from an extremely sharp angle. Played into the area on a ball that may have seen him offside, he cut into the area, and he fired it past the keeper into the back post on a shot that likely should have been saved.  A minute later, they nearly got a second, but Morad made a great challenge to deny a goal scoring opportunity.

In the end, the final whistle would blow, and Louisville City’s dominant start saw them walk away with the 4-1 victory. The club’s unbeaten streak was extended to thirteen matches, the only loss coming back in the second match of the season. Now attention turns to FC Cincinnati, who currently sits third in the table, seven points back with two matches in hand. It will be an important match that will help determine the shape of the East, as the Sugar Free Red Bulls also have two matches in hand and sit six points back. That match will kick off at 7:30 on Saturday night at Slugger Field, and could finally be the match where we top the 10,000 mark in attendance.