Louisville City had one of their best performances in quite a while, as they clinched a first round playoff game at home with a 2-0 win over Richmond on Hispanic Heritage Night. The victory ended the visitor’s ten-match unbeaten streak, and guaranteed a top-four finish for Louisville City.
The lineup for the match saw Magnus Rasmussen start behind Cameron Lancaster, with Chandler Hoffman, the club’s leading scorer, left off the team sheet completely. Play opened well for the hosts, as they dominated possession from the start. The first goal came in the 19th minute, after Kadeem Dacres was fouled in the area when a defender kicked him and took him down while trying to clear the ball following a set piece. Lancaster buried the penalty past the keeper, and City was on top 1-0 off yet another set-piece goal.
There was nearly a wild second goal later in the half, when Greg Ranjitsingh launched a deep goal kick, and it bounced once before the visiting keeper had to rush out and punch it away. His punch was not very good, however, and Rasmussen nearly scored a wondergoal from about 35 yards out. However the ball went over the goal and out of play.
The second half saw more domination from City, and finally we saw a goal from open play, the first one in quite a while. Rasmussen got the ball about twenty five yards out, after a beautiful give-and-go move with Aodhan Quinn, and he rifled a goal from outside the area past the keeper, who got his mitts on it but could do nothing to keep it out. His first goal of the year after a difficult rehab, Rasmussen was thrilled and so were the fans. “Their back four was dropping deep,” he said after the match, “so I just pulled the trigger and it went in.” This was something the fans have been asking for lately, and it was refreshing to see the effort taken.
O’Connor agreed, claiming it was a “fantastic strike” and he was quite happy with the performance, which saw LCFC take eighteen shots on the night. “I thought that was the best we’ve been in weeks, and I thought defensively that we gave a really strong performance.” He was absolutely right about the defense, as Paco Craig and Sean Reynolds marshalled things in the back, leaving Ranjitsingh quite bored in goal at times. They were both phenomenal on the night, and either one could have been argued for man of the match.
The one bad take-away from the match is that Kyle Smith, who picked up his fifth yellow card in stoppage time, will miss the trip to Saint Louis next weekend, and thus won’t get to help celebrate yet another Kings’ Cup victory over our frienemies, but overall it was a terrific outing, and one that sees LCFC hitting their stride just in time for the playoffs. “It was a very strong performance, especially against a team that had been doing so well,” O’Connor said.
Louisville City will return home in two weeks to face Charlotte on September 24th, before hosting the playoff game against an unknown opponent. City can clinch a second-place finish in the East with a win against Saint Louis, among other scenarios, so they control their own destiny.