Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Having had the club’s leading scorer also contend for the USL Golden Boot each of its first two seasons, the fact that Louisville City FC was able to set a club record for regular-season goals this season with 58 goals in 32 games despite a lack of a top-10 scorer could play a key role as the side looks to return to the Eastern Conference Final of the USL Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Squaring off against a historically tough Rochester Rhinos side on Saturday night at Slugger Field (7:30 p.m. ET | Preview), the numerous ways Louisville has been able to break down opponents this season could be key in the second postseason meeting between the perennial USL Cup contenders.
“I think this year more than any, everyone’s made a big contribution,” said Louisville Head Coach James O’Connor. “People say ‘Oh, you’ve got 11 players,’ well we don’t. All of our guys have played and contributed. Forget the fact that every outfield player has scored. I think when you look at the contribution every individual has made, I think it’s been very, very good. Again, for us that’s something we’ve spoke a lot about – the ability to support your teammate, which is paramount to us.”
There has been some consistency, though, with Luke Spencer providing both a strong central point for others to play off in open play, and a tremendous target on set pieces. The 6-foot-2 forward notched a goal and assist in Louisville’s victory against Bethlehem Steel FC last Friday night as part of a standout all-around contest.
With attention for Spencer likely arriving in the form of one of Rochester’s standout center backs – Joe Farrell or Ryan Felix – the need for others to step up and provide goals could arrive. With Louisville having been held scoreless only three times at home this season, and having averaged two goals per game in the regular season at Slugger Field, the side is confident of success.
“The energy is high,” said wingback Kyle Smith. “We’re all trying to win. We’re trying to get the playoff push. We’re trying to get the [USL Cup], so everyone is feeling good. The vibes in the locker room are good. So yeah, I’m feeling confident.”
After the boost the club received late on Thursday night from the Louisville Metro Council, which passed four measures that will pave the way for the club to move on its plans to build a home venue in the Butchertown neighborhood, the mood in the stadium also promises to be a raucous one.
While the weather forecast for Saturday night in Louisville isn’t great, the team is hoping to continue the party in the stands and take another step toward a championship.
“We’re really excited,” said midfielder Guy Abend. “I know it’s going to be cold and probably going to rain in the morning, but we still want to see fans out there. They mean a lot to us. They’re like an extra player on the field, so if we can get everyone out there, that’d be great.”