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History on Louisville’s Side at USL Cup

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/11/17, 10:06AM EST


Host has claimed victory in all six prior editions in league’s modern era

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The history of the USL Cup is clear.

In the six previous editions of the game in the league’s modern era, the host side has lifted the trophy on all six occasions at the end of the night.

That, in theory, should be good news for Louisville City FC and its fans as they prepare to host the 2017 USL Cup on Monday night at what is looking like being a sold-out Slugger Field, but the hosts’ players know it’s not going to be that simple against a Swope Park Rangers side that has major motivation after its defeat at this stage a year ago.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard that stat, at least me personally,” said Louisville captain Paolo DelPiccolo. “I have no superstition, it’s just about preparing and playing our hardest.”

There have been close calls for visiting sides. In 2011, the Harrisburg City Islanders led Orlando City SC in extra time before a late penalty kick allowed the Lions to equalize and then take victory in a penalty shootout. Two years ago, the LA Galaxy II took a second-half lead on the Rochester Rhinos, only for the Rhinos to find an equalizer in stoppage time and then the winner in extra time.

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

After making history as the first team to reach back-to-back USL Cups, Swope Park is aware it would break another barrier should it take victory.

“It is in the back of our head,” said SPR captain Christian Duke, “but at the same time we have a chance to make history again and we’re hoping to do that on Monday night.”

Duke has claimed the championship before, as part of Orlando’s 2013 side that took a remarkable 7-4 victory against the Charlotte Eagles in front of 20,886 fans at the Florida Citrus Bowl. For others on the Swope Park side like goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas who returned looking to avenge the disappointment of last year’s defeat to the New York Red Bulls II, the way the Rangers have negotiated a tricky road to this year’s USL Cup is a testament to how the side has grown.

“Our team is capable of anything that’s thrown at us,” said Zendejas. “We’ve shown everyone that whatever you throw at us, we’ll handle it and bounce back from it and we’ll end up victorious. Hopefully we can do the same, have the same mindset [on Monday] and just go about it the same way we do.”

As much as history is on their side, Louisville’s players are looking forward to what Monday will bring as a contest, and as a chance to write their name in the USL history book.

“What I would say to that is don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,” said Louisville midfielder George Davis IV. “It’s a stat I was unaware of, but now that you say it, it’s not something I want to think of because at the end of the day 11 players have to go out on the field and win the game. Regardless of the history, the history will write itself, right?”

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