USL President Jake Edwards speaks at the 2019 USL Championship Final Press Conference in Louisville on Friday afternoon at the Hotel Distel. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Lousiville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – USL President Jake Edwards paid tribute to Louisville City FC founder Wayne Estopinal on Friday ahead of the club’s opportunity to become the first side to win three USL Championship Finals this Sunday when it plays host to Real Monarchs SLC at Lynn Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2 | ESPN Deportes).
A minority owner in Orlando City SC when it was part of the USL Championship at the start of this decade, Estopinal brought professional soccer to Louisville as the Lions prepared to move to Major League Soccer for the 2015 season and helped lay the foundation for a club that has gone from strength to strength over its first five seasons both on and off the field.
Estopinal passed away in November 2018 following an airplane accident, and over the past year his influence has been celebrated around Louisville, including by the Louisville Coopers at the club’s home opener this season. With LouCity set to move into an 11,700-seat soccer-specific stadium next spring, and having claimed the past two league titles, the club has lived up to the goals Estopinal laid out upon its move to the Bluegrass State.
“His vision is playing out now, to have a top-quality team and have an amazing stadium to call home,” said Edwards at the USL Championship Final Press Conference at the Distil Hotel. “I’d like to think he’s up there smiling down on us all and very proud of what you have all achieved. That was his early vision for this club, so we are forever thankful that he was part of our league and was a part of this club and this community, and I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking him.”
The Louisville Coopers paid tribute to Louisville City FC founder Wayne Estopinal at the club's home opener in March after his passing in November 2018. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Edwards also spoke to the work Louisville President Brad Estes and Chairman John Neace have done to aid the league’s growth, with Neace a key figure on the Championship’s Executive Committee.
“[John] has been instrumental in a lot of the strategic direction, and so we thank him for that support at the league level as well as for everything he has done with the ownership group to deliver what will be a world-class stadium, and a showpiece stadium for our league,” said Edwards. “It’s something the players, the club and this community are going to be so proud to call their home.”