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‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Performance Leaves Louisville Disappointed

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/10/16, 11:23PM EDT


Eastern Conference leader misses out in 1-1 draw with Harrisburg

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville City FC displayed a split personality on Wednesday night.

In the first 40 minutes, the side rarely resembled the side that had gone on a league-best 17-game undefeated streak this season. For the remaining 50, it looked much more itself, but it wasn’t enough to salvage victory in a 1-1 draw against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday night in front of 5,563 fans at Slugger Field.

“It was sort of Jekyll and Hyde, really,” said Louisville Coach James O’Connor following the game. “First half, a bit disappointed. Second half, really pleased. I thought we played some great football and, if I'm being honest, created enough chances to win the game, which is disappointing. But it happens.”

Louisville’s lack of edge allowed the City Islanders to gain control of the game after near-misses for both sides early. The visitors, who slumped to a 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls II in their last outing, hit the crossbar in the 10th minute as Bobby Warshaw threatened, and were able to pick off possession consistently to limit City’s attacking forays.

Midway through the half Harrisburg took the lead, with Louisville’s bad side partly to blame. A poor clearance found its way to Jose Barril at the top-left corner of the penalty area, and the Spanish midfielder curled home his finish beyond the reach of City goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh into the right corner of the net. The goal was Barril’s fifth this season, and 10th in the regular season for the City Islanders since joining the club in 2014.

Louisville’s response wasn’t immediate, but it arrived before the halftime break as Cameron Lancaster in particular started to pick up steam. Starting in place of City’s leading scorer Chandler Hoffman, likely with an eye on Saturday’s game against Rochester, Lancaster threatened just before the halftime break, while Aodhan Quinn fired a shot just high and wide in stoppage time.

City’s momentum carried into the second half, and 11 minutes after the break the equalizer arrived. Lancaster’s free kick from 25 yards was turned onto the crossbar by Harrisburg goalkeeper Keasel Broome, but Paolo DelPiccolo was the first to react as he notched his first goal for the club to level the score.

“It felt good,” DelPiccolo said. “Cam just had a great shot, and it fell right to me. I tapped it in – not exactly a wonder goal, but it was good to finally score.”

As strongly as Louisville pressed, however, the hosts were unable to replicate their comeback victory in Pittsburgh last Friday night. Even the introduction of Hoffman couldn’t find a winner as Broome and his teammates battled to earn a point.

Following Wednesday’s result, the ball now sits in the Red Bulls II’s court, with Friday night’s game against Orlando City B at Red Bull Arena the next key contest in what appears to be a three-horse race for first in the Eastern Conference. FC Cincinnati, sitting five points back of Louisville with two games in hand, is in the mix as well as it visits Richmond in one of this weekend’s marquee matchups, but O’Connor’s message to his team following the game focused on what it has to do down the stretch.

“He said, 'Keep your head up. We've got more games to go,’” said fullback Kyle Smith. “We've got New York. We've just got to focus on what we've got to do and not worry about what other teams are doing and make sure that we bring our game every time we step on the field.”

With a rematch of the USL Eastern Conference Final from a season ago against the Rochester Rhinos up next on Saturday, and a visit to Red Bull Arena on August 19 now looming large, the pressure is only likely to increase from here.

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