LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Here are three things that mattered as Louisville City FC lifted the USL Cup on Thursday night after a 1-0 victory against Phoenix Rising FC in front of a sellout crowd of 7,025 fans at Lynn Stadium.
1. Louisville City FC made history as it became the first side to lift the USL Cup in back-to-back seasons after a hard-fought affair with Phoenix Rising FC that saw the hosts at Lynn Stadium maintain their perfect home record in the USL Cup Playoffs and the status quo of the home side having lifted the trophy in all eight editions of the contest. The game had entertainment, but a lack of sharp finishing seemed to leave both teams on edge until Luke Spencer came through to power home a finish after LouCity had kept alive a corner kick in the 62nd minute that he simply had to put away. The manner of the victory won’t matter much to the capacity crowd of 7,025 fans, though, as Louisville became the second two-time champion in the league’s modern era after Orlando City SC.
2. Spencer was asked to shoulder a lot of responsibility as the man tasked with replacing the injured USL Golden Boot-winner Cameron Lancaster in Louisville’s lineup, but after it was Lancaster a season ago that scored the game-winner in the 2017 USL Cup after a season marred by injury there was a certain poetry to Spencer writing a similar storyline for himself after leading LouCity in goals a season ago. The face of The Triumvirate in midseason while coming back from injury when he, Paolo DelPiccolo and George Davis IV took over as co-Head Coaches following the departure of James O’Connor and his staff to Orlando City SC, Spencer took his biggest bow on the biggest stage and wrote his club into the history books as a result.
3. There was not to be the fairytale ending to Didier Drogba’s final game and a magical season for Phoenix Rising FC as the visitors failed to take advantage of their opportunities. At the forefront of that ending was Drogba himself, who recorded six shots but only put one on target as he never seemed to quite find his range after an ambitious free kick tested Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh in the first five minutes. The disappointment of defeat will linger given the chances the side had to strike before Spencer’s opener, but it shouldn’t overshadow what has been a tremendous year for the club that has laid the groundwork for a return to this stage sooner rather than later.