The United Soccer League has awarded the inaugural USL Summer Showcase to Louisville, Ky., further establishing the Derby City as one of America’s great soccer destinations. The USL Summer Showcase is a multi-day celebration of soccer in the United States which will highlight the USL’s role in shaping its future at all levels of the game.
Soccer executives from around the United States will convene in Louisville for the event, which includes the League’s annual mid-year meetings, community events and partner activations, and culminates in a nationally televised marquee match between Louisville City FC and Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
“The Summer Showcase will shine a spotlight on everything the USL is doing to drive the game forward in America,” USL Chief Commercial Officer Court Jeske said. “The passion of LouCity’s fans and the world-class facilities at Lynn Family Stadium make Louisville a natural and exciting host city for the inaugural event. Likewise, Phoenix Rising’s consistent success on and off the field helped us determine the ideal matchup for this year’s Showcase. We expect this to be the most-watched interconference match of the USL Championship regular season.”
Representatives from the USL’s ecosystem of more than 200 professional and pre-professional clubs across the country will attend the meetings and watch the match in Louisville.
“We’re honored to be selected for the inaugural showcase, and likewise we’re excited to bring yet another major soccer event to Louisville,” said LouCity’s chairman and CEO, John Neace. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our city to show itself off to the league and representatives of USL clubs from all over the country. We look forward to seeing visitors partake in local business and in turn hope the community helps us pack Lynn Family Stadium for a marquee nationally-televised game.”
“As Louisville Mayor, I was determined to do everything needed to bring professional soccer to our city. We resolved to transform a brownfield into something spectacular – and with the leadership of the great ownership group of Louisville Soccer Holdings, my team and countless others, our city has created a burgeoning soccer district with the state-of-the-art Lynn Family Stadium that has hosted teams from across the globe,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “The USL Summer Showcase is a great event for Louisville, and will spotlight our city, Louisville City FC, and our soccer fans. Louisville’s soccer future promises an even greater social and economic impact, further strengthening our global position, and we look forward to being the host city for the inaugural USL Summer Showcase.”
Founded in 2014, Louisville City FC has established itself as one of the flagship clubs in the USL Championship. In 2020, the club opened its permanent home, with the 15,304-capacity Lynn Family Stadium earning nomination for Stadium of the Year by Stadium Database. The city’s love for soccer adds to a rich sporting landscape featuring the Kentucky Derby and deep college sports loyalties in the hometown of legendary boxer and human rights activist Muhammad Ali. Last November, Lynn Family Stadium played host to the 2021 NWSL Championship Game, and this summer the venue will host the second edition of The Women’s Cup, a six-team tournament featuring Racing Louisville FC and select international clubs. In December 2023, the NCAA Men’s College Cup will come to Louisville and another soccer champion will be crowned in Lynn Family Stadium.
“We're excited for the opportunity to host the inaugural USL Summer Showcase,” said Greg Fante, Louisville Sports Commission Vice President of Sports Development. “Louisville is well-known for successfully hosting large prestigious sports events. Being able to add the USL Summer Showcase to this growing list of events is a direct result of Louisville Soccer Holding's investment in our men's and women's soccer community.”
The Summer Showcase will bring together the USL Championship’s two winningest sides over the past five seasons and presents a rematch of the 2018 USL Championship Final, which Louisville won 1-0. LouCity has reached the Eastern Conference Final in every season of its existence, winning back-to-back USL Championship titles in 2017 and 2018. Phoenix has won the Western Conference twice in the last four years and leads the USL Championship in regular season wins (93), points (307) and goals scored (325) since the start of the 2017 season. LouCity ranks second in each of those three categories in the same time frame.
“We are honored and excited to be part of the inaugural USL Championship Summer Showcase,” said Phoenix Rising FC Governor Berke Bakay. “This will be our first match against Louisville since the 2018 USL Championship Final, so we are eager for the challenge. I couldn't imagine a better matchup for the first showcase. I expect the game will live up to the world class facilities in which it will be played and the national broadcast attention it will receive from ESPN2.”