With the chance to host the Columbus Crew on the line, Louisville City FC was ousted from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup following a 1-0 defeat to River City rival FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium Wednesday night.
One notable switch to the squad was the return of goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh to the starting XI since the season opener. Ranjitsingh injured his groin in the first half against St. Louis FC.
Questions about squad depth were raised earlier in the week and how the team would fare with a packed schedule coming up. Depth was challenged early in the match when Luke Spencer tangled legs with a Cincinnati player. Ilija Ilic was forced to come on for the Xavier alum in the 16th minute.
Cincinnati had the first chance of the game in the 21st minute. Kadeem Dacres dribbled past a defender but lost his balance. He didn’t give up on the play and was able to center the ball to Jimmy McLaughlin. McLaughlin fired on goal, but Ranjitsingh made a crucial kick save to keep the score at 0-0.
City squandered their best chance in the 34th minute. A great pass to the left flank sent Oscar Jimenez on goal. He played the ball to Ilic, who opted for style over solid contact with a cheeky between the legs shot, but whiffed and Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt scooped up comfortably.
Cincinnati took the lead in the 47th minute. Cincinnati forced the issue with a corner. Aodhan Quinn swung in a cross that Paolo DelPiccolo chested down dangerously. His touch forced Ranjitsingh to make a tough save, and Djiby Fall pounced and finished from close range.
Cincinnati almost doubled the advantage in the 78th minute. Andrew Wiedeman went past Kyle Smith with a beautiful elastico. His cross connected with Danni Konig for a header, but the shot went right at Ranjitsingh, who punched over for a corner.
As the mistake by DelPiccolo cost City, the depth advantage by Cincinnati proved to be the decider. Once Djiby was subbed out, coach Alan Koch could turn to Konig, and the team continued to create pressure. City failed to trouble Cincinnati often with Ilic up front. Albeit service to the Serbian was seldom, the trio up front were never in sync.
City are back in action against Eastern Conference leaders, Charleston Battery on Saturday, June 3rd. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.