LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh stared down a fifth-minute penalty kick Tuesday against Toronto FC, faced with a potential early momentum shift in favor of the visitors. But he lunged right and blocked the attempt with his foot.
From there, the United Soccer League match at Louisville Slugger Field was never in doubt. LouCity scored three goals with a bevy of shots in the opening 26 minutes — two credited to midfielder Guy Abend — before adding another in the second half of a 4-1 victory.
The win stretched Louisville’s unbeaten streak in USL play to 13 games and widened the gap to second place in the Eastern Conference standings to six points at the midway point of the regular season.
“I think we passed the ball, and there was a crispness to our passing which was good,” said coach James O’Connor. “Just at the end, obviously very disappointing to give up a goal but all in all we have to be very pleased. The guys showed a lot of quality tonight, good passing, good movement, so we can be pleased.”
WATCH: O’Connor’s postgame press conference
After Toronto’s Salvador Bernal Flores failed to convert the penalty, LouCity locked down on possession, controlling much of the first half. Abend cleaned up an 11th-minute corner kick to open scoring before scoring again in the 24th on an assist from George Davis IV.
“It’s amazing,” Abend said. “I think I got lucky to score two. It’s the first time in my life, actually. I’m glad I could help the team get the win.”
Later, Niall McCabe, LouCity’s assists leader, netted a shot of his own from the help of former Toronto midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye.
The victory was in hand at the half as an announced 7,066 cheered the team in purple. Substituted on, University of Louisville product Paolo DelPiccolo dished a 65th minute free kick from the right to Tarek Morad for a header that rounded out LouCity’s scoring.
HIGHLIGHTS: Top plays from Tuesday’s game
A late run up the right side, and a well-positioned shot between the post and Ranjitsingh by Toronto’s Shaan Hundal, spoiled the shutout but did little to factor in the result.
“You don’t want to get big headed,” O’Connor said. “…You need to keep your feet on the ground, and I think that there was certain aspects of play that we were pleased with and other aspects that need to be crisper — need to be sharper and a couple instances that we need to speak to the guys about but all in all we can be pleased with how that went for sure.”
O’Connor’s club improved to 10-1-4. Its last defeat came April 2 to New York Red Bulls II, the club chasing LouCity in the USL standings. In third is FC Cincinnati, which Louisville hosts Saturday in the first edition of the River Cities Cup at Slugger Field.
GALLERY: Photos from a LouCity victory
Even after a second victory in three days — LouCity knocked off the Rochester Rhinos by a 1-0 score over the weekend — Morad was already thinking ahead to the club’s next outing.
“We need to be a little more solid in the back,” he said of improvements moving forward. “We want to make Slugger a fortress, and we want to be able to keep shutouts, keep teams off the scoresheet, and be able to start a nice little undefeated streak here at home. We’re hoping to do the same thing on Saturday — start off strong and get a good result.”
Match: Louisville City FC vs. Toronto FC II
Date: June 21, 2016
Venue: Slugger Field
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Weather: Clear, 87 degrees
Man of the Match: Guy Abend
Goal Scoring Rundown
LouCity (11′): On a quickly taken corner by Aodhan Quinn, Guy Abend benefited from a deflection off a Toronto player. The ball bounded straight in front of the goal and in position for the strike.
LouCity (24′): A through pass made its way past the Toronto defense and to George Davis IV, who crossed to Abend from the left for his second goal.
LouCity (26′): Mark-Anthony Kaye crossed from near the end line to an open Nial McCabe for a goal that looked much like Abend’s two minutes earlier, only from the opposite side.
LouCity (65′): Paolo DelPiccolo’s free kick from the right side found the head of Tarek Morad in the box for LouCity’s fourth goal of the evening.
Toronto (79′): Streaking down the side of the field, Shaan Hundal hooked a shot between the right post and goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh’s outstretched hand to spoil the shutout effort.
LouCity (3, 1, 4)
Toronto FC II (0 ,1, 1)
Toronto FC II: 30-Phil Di Bennardo, 42-Mitch Taintor, 20-Chris Mannella, 34-Thomas Skylar, 53-Steven Furlano (77′ 58-Anthony Osorio), 63-Liam Fraser, 55-Aidan Daniels, 45-Luca Uccello (62′ 36-Brian James), 31-Salvador Bernal, 64-Shaan Hundal, 46-Ayo Akinola
Subs not used: 40-Quillan Roberts, 13-Clement Simonin
Head coach: Jason Brent.
Louisville City FC: 13-Greg Ranjitsingh, 24-Kyle Smith (58′ 77-Andrew Lubahn), 6-Tarek Morad, 15-Sean Reynolds, 20-Enrique Montano, 4-Aodhan Quinn (58′ 36-Paolo DelPiccolo), 8-Guy Abend, 12-Mark-Anthony Kaye, 11-Niall McCabe (half 7-Kadeem Dacres), 17-Chandler Hoffman (half 9-Cameron Lancaster), 22-George Davis IV (70′ 10-Magnus Rasmussen).
Subs not used: 1-Scott Goodwin, 18-Paco Craig.
Head coach: James O’Connor
Stats Summary: LouCity / Toronto FC II
Shots: 18 / 5
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 14 / 11
Offside: 1 / 3
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referee 1: Cory Richardson
Assistant Referee 2: Maggie Short
4th Official: James Dumstorf