Welcome to the Classic Championship Game of the Day, where today we return to late in the 2019 regular season and an Eastern Conference clash between Louisville City FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Slugger Field that featured some major late-game drama between the two postseason contenders.
With five games to go in its regular season, two-time defending USL Championship Final-winner LouCity was looking to make a final push up the standings to try and secure at least one home game in the postseason. Sitting in sixth position as it entered the contest, Louisville had begun to put together what had now become a traditional late-season run of form with an eight-game undefeated streak that had included most recently a 5-3 victory against Eastern Conference leader the New York Red Bulls II, as a pair of goals by Napo Matsoso set the tone for the win. With a five-point gap to the top five in the standings, though, LouCity was in massive need of another three points against one of the sides it was chasing.
The Rowdies, however, were equally in need of points. After getting out to a 13-game undefeated streak to start Head Coach Neill Collins’ first full season at the helm, Tampa Bay had cooled off in the second half of the season. That had resulted in a small slide to third place in the standings, but with the Rowdies sitting in the middle of a logjam that saw the top five teams separated by only two points a victory would have given the chance to be back on top by the end of the night’s action. After a 6-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union II in their last outing that saw five different players find the net, however, the Rowdies were ready to try and claim their first win all-time on the road at Slugger Field.
The scene is set, so sit back, relax and enjoy a classic clash from the Championship’s history.