Photo courtesy Zac Cahill / Louisville City FC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Louisville City FC opened its preseason schedule with a 0-0 draw against Major League Soccer’s Nashville SC on Monday afternoon at GEODIS Park, with the club’s Academy youngsters getting a chance to shine alongside their more established counterparts less than a week after the USL Championship club kicked off its preparations for the 2023 season.
In addition to debuts for the club for new signings Rasmus Thellufsen and Dylan Mares, LouCity featured plenty of rotation among rostered professionals, trialists and LouCity Academy standouts, with the younger players mixing in more as the 90-minute game reached its late stages.
Nashville SC entered having already played twice this preseason against fellow MLS club the New York Red Bulls and the U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team, which included LouCity’s Josh Wynder among its ranks. Wynder was part of the starting unit on Monday as he returned to the club from U-20 camp in Florida.
“I came away really, really happy with the overall intensity and the mentality of the group,” said LouCity Head Coach Danny Cruz. “That's a really good team there, and we've only been together here for four or five days up to this point. But guys came out and did well. The most important part is we walked out of here with no injuries, which is key.”
LouCity had a few opportunities to score Monday, including in the first half when a shot by forward Wilson Harris forced a save. Wynder had a look on the ensuing corner kick that flew just wide of the post. Chances were more limited in the second half, with Tyler Gibson’s effort from near the top of the penalty area being well handled by Nashville SC’s goalkeeper.
This closed-door friendly marked a rematch from last year’s U.S. Open Cup Round of 16. Nashville SC won last time thanks to a late goal by designated player Hany Mukhtar, who started Monday but was held in check as LouCity registered a clean sheet.
After introducing Isaac Cano at halftime, the final 20 minutes saw LouCity introduce multiple Academy products including Colin Elder, Nick Harshaw, Dakota Hart, Santiago Sanchez, Gio Chavez, Jabari Rasheed and Jack Travis, all of whom saw action for the club in this past November’s USL Academy League Finals and helped close out the result on Monday.
“I think anytime you have a back line that hasn’t always played together, it's really key that the communication and organization is collective,” said Cruz said. “I felt it was that today. When you look at giving away no goals against an opponent like them, that's something to certainly be proud of and build on.”