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‘Déjà Vu’ Moment Lifted Ranjitsingh, City

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/12/17, 4:32PM EST


Goalkeeper’s return to form has been key to Louisville’s USL Cup run

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A year ago, Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh was on the sideline when New York Red Bulls II goalkeeper Ryan Meara turned a penalty kick by Ben Newnam onto the crossbar and out to send the Red Bulls II to the 2016 USL Cup.

So when Ranjitsingh did precisely the same thing in the same situation against the Red Bulls II’s Ethan Kutler in last Saturday night’s Eastern Conference Final, a save that ended up sending Louisville to its first USL Cup, there was certainly a flashback or two going around Slugger Field.

“It was déjà vu, for sure,” said Ranjitsingh. “I was just happy this year I was able to be in there and help my team win. For sure, it was like déjà vu, us against the Red Bulls, off the crossbar save, I’m just glad we were on the winning side this time.”

That moment, followed by Richard Ballard’s penalty kick to win the shootout, left the more than 10,000-fan crowd on hand and the players watching from the halfway line, arm-in-arm, buzzing.

“That feeling was unlike any other I’ve experienced in a long time,” said Louisville defender Tarek Morad. “Seeing Greg come up with that big save was massive, and it’s probably one of the best saves I’ve ever seen live, in-person. Definitely, to get that redemption against the team that we lost to last year under the same circumstances was a great feeling.”

The return to form of Ranjitsingh has been key to the side’s success, with the inconsistency he showed following his return from injury in the opening game of the regular season firmly put behind him. After some tough displays in midseason, Ranjitsingh worked to get back to basics, but also to enter each game with a clear mind.

“I kinda went into the next set of games with a free mind, and didn’t really care, just played freely and didn’t worry about if a mistake was made or if we were down, I just played,” he said. “That was kind of what it was, my confidence was high, morale was high in the team, we were able to pick up some results, get some clean sheets.”

Following the side’s 3-1 loss on Aug. 5 against a Charlotte Independence that at the time was also challenging for top spot in the Eastern Conference, things seemed to finally fall into place. Two 5-0 victories in back-to-back home games against FC Cincinnati and the Harrisburg City Islanders showed what Louisville could be capable of when hitting a high hear, and while there were still some bumps in the road, the side finished the season eight points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Being able to put together those types of performances at Slugger Field has been a big confidence-builder for City’s players. Having been part of the club since its inception, Ranjitsingh has also seen what the club has meant to Louisville since its arrival for the start of the 2015 season.

“From the first year, we even had a great attendance that year too,” he said. “Not many people knew what was going on, they all of a sudden had a professional soccer team in the city. People bought into it, and every single year the attendance has grown, the support has been amazing. On and off the field we’ve received so much support from the city. We’re just really thankful we’re able to play a USL final in front of them.”

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

A fellow member of the club’s inaugural squad, Morad shares Ranjitsingh’s mood when it comes to getting the chance to host the USL Cup.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Morad. “Just thinking about all of the hard work that’s gone into Year 1, Year 2 and now Year 3, it’s really tough, so finally to see us get to this point is a great feeling, knowing all our hard work has come to fruition, so to speak. We’re now playing in the game every team around the league wants to be playing in, so it feels really good.”

With the do-or-die nature of the USL Cup, and the Western Conference champion Swope Park Rangers having shown their own pedigree when it comes to the tension of a penalty shootout, it could be a fascinating showdown should the contest need to be settled from the spot for the second time in the league’s modern era. Morad and his teammates believe in those circumstances they have a potential match-winner in Ranjitsingh.

“You know, we always have belief that Greg is going to come up and make a big save,” said Morad. “Before the penalty kicks were even taken, we said, ‘no matter what, Greg’s going to save us. He’s going to get us one at least,’ and he ended up saving two. Just having that belief in each other going into every game, and if we have to go to penalties, is huge.

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

For the goalkeeper himself, the occasion is going to be unlike any other he’s experienced in his young professional career.

“It would be amazing,” said Ranjitsingh of winning the USL Cup in front of the club’s fans. “I know it’s the biggest game of my career, I’m sure it’s the biggest game of a lot of guys on the team’s career, so a win there would be very memorable. I’d remember it for the rest of my career, and it would be great for the city as well. There’s a lot of things going on, we just got our stadium announced, we’re making moves, and a win would be amazing to top it off.”

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