A 92nd-minute header from Nashville SC defender Jimmy Ockord gave his side a dramatic 2-1 victory over Louisville City FC on Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park to move the hosts within a point of first-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the Eastern Conference standings and keep them on track for a top-two finish with two games remaining. Elsewhere, Kévin Oliveira helped Ottawa Fury FC claim a 2-1 victory over the 10-man Swope Park Rangers with an 89th-minute winner at Children’s Mercy Park that saw the Canadian side punch its ticket to the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jimmy Ockford’s 92nd-minute header gave Nashville a dramatic victory over Louisville at First Tennessee Park. The hosts got off to the perfect start five minutes into the contest when Ropapa Mensah’s right-wing cutback from the byline went untouched through the box but reached Justin Davis, who collected it on the left side of the penalty area and picked out Taylor Washington for a first-time finish past Louisville goalkeeper Chris Hubbard to open the scoring. Louisville looked for a response at the other end and came close 10 minutes later when Shaun Francis’ cross reached Paolo DelPiccolo, but the midfielder slid his left-footed shot just wide of the post. Nashville nearly capitalized on a Louisville turnover seven minutes before halftime when Darnell King intercepted a pass and played Mensah clean through down the right side of the field, but Hubbard did well to keep the shot out and parry the rebound away from a lurking Daniel Rios. The visitors nearly found their equalizer in first-half stoppage time as DelPiccolo flicked Niall McCabe’s left-wing cross onto Brian Ownby, who beat NSC goalkeeper Matt Pickens with his right-footed strike only to see the ball cleared off the goal line by defender Forrest Lasso. Rios should have doubled Nashville’s lead five minutes after the break when Davis’ left-wing cross bounced perfectly for the forward, but he blazed his effort over the crossbar from six yards out. Louisville looked to take advantage of that miss as it pushed for an equalizer, with Ownby setting up Luke Spencer with a lovely lofted pass that the substitute struck well on the volley, but Pickens made a fantastic diving save to keep it out in the 74th minute. Spencer made amends five minutes later though, heading home from close range after Pickens and his defense failed to clear its lines from Antoine Hoppenot’s chipped cross. However, Nashville would have the last laugh in the second minute of stoppage time when Lasso delivered a free kick from five yards inside his own half to the top of the Louisville box, where his center back partner Ockford was on hand to head home into the top-right and send the home crowd into a frenzy. There was still work to be done, as Pickens made two more saves to keep out a long-range shot from Speedy Williams and a close-range header from Paco Craig on the resulting corner kick to preserve the three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Forrest Lasso, Nashville SC – Lasso provided the assist on the game-winning goal, won all eight of his duels and recorded 16 clearances and five recoveries to help Nashville earn an emotional victory over rival Louisville.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ottawa Fury FC clinched a playoff spot with a late victory over the 10-man Rangers at Children’s Mercy Park. Both teams struggled to create clear-cut opportunities in the early stages as Ottawa forward Kévin Oliveira forced an easy save out of Swope Park goalkeeper John Pulskamp with a tight-angle shot in the ninth minute before Rangers midfielder Tyler Freeman dribbled through the Fury FC defense but skied his shot off target just after the half-hour mark. The two sides looked set to go into halftime scoreless until the 45th minute when Rennico Clarke blocked Christiano François’ cross with his hand and the referee pointed to the spot before sending the Swope Park defender off for his second yellow card. Wal Fall sent Pulskamp the wrong way on the resulting spot kick, finding the top-right corner with ease from 12 yards out to give the visitors a cushion heading to the break. Ottawa pushed for a second goal after the break but Pulskamp made a pair of impressive one-on-one saves to keep his side in it, first making himself big to deny François in the 67th minute before getting a flailing arm to Oliveira’s effort six minutes later. Fury FC was nearly left to rue its misses when Callum Irving came out of his net to clear a ball over the top, but was beaten to it by his own defender and had to watch helplessly as Zé Pedro fired a volley from 40 yards out into the abandoned net with five minutes remaining. There was still time for one last twist of the tale though, as Oliveira held off his defender to run onto Hadji Barry’s through ball and finished past Pulskamp to send Ottawa into the postseason and deny his former club a point.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Kévin Oliveira, Ottawa Fury FC – Oliveira scored the game-winning goal against his former club, recorded six shots in total, completed 91 percent of his passes and won 7 of 11 duels to help Fury FC clinch a spot in the USL Championship Playoffs.