A season after Matt Fondy set the United Soccer League scoring record with 22 goals in 28 matches, Louisville City FC’s Chandler Hoffman is making his own bid for the USL’s golden boot. He’s hardly alone, however, in LouCity’s attack.
As Guy Abend secured a brace Tuesday with two goals against Toronto FC II, Louisville saw its 14th different player score a goal by the season’s midpoint, already more than the 13 with goals in 2015.
Hoffman exited at the half, his team ahead 3-0, to save energy for the club’s next challenge — Saturday’s 7:50 p.m. meeting with River Cities Cup rival FC Cincinnati at Slugger Field.
“I think that for Chandler it was important that we got some rest in,” said coach James O’Connor. “He’s played a lot of games, so I think second half we tried to get some guys on who need some minutes and give guys some rest as well.
“We’ve obviously got some games coming up as well so it’s just trying to get a balance with everything, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any cooler here either.”
Hoffman, who won a Major League Soccer Cup during his time with the LA Galaxy, ranks second in the USL in scoring with 10 goals, helping LouCity to a USL-best 13-match unbeaten streak.
FC Cincinnati enters having not lost in nine straight, not falling since its April 16 defeat to Louisville at Nippert Stadium. That night, the teams played in front of 20,497 fans. In the return game LouCity will likely set a new attendance record, eclipsing the 9,434 to attend last year’s friendly with Orlando City SC of MLS.
Here’s more of what to watch for Saturday.
LouCity: 10-1-4 (34 points) in 15 matches; first in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
FC Cincinnati: 8-2-3 (27 points) in 13 matches; third in the USL’s East.
Saturday’s game will air on ESPN3, in Louisville on MeTV and on YouTube with Michael Watts (play-by-play), Cory Gibbs (color commentary) and Heather Mitts (sideline reporter) on the call.
Vote for LouCity’s Modelo Man of the Match near the end of Saturday’s game on Twitter.
Back to the top: Saying Louisville City FC has “the chance to put clear water between itself and the chasing pack available in the next seven days,” the United Soccer League’s Nicholas Murray this week returned the club to No. 1 in the league’s power rankings. And that was before LouCity knocked off Toronto FC II by a 4-1 score on Tuesday night. Murray’s power rankings listed the Sacramento Republic at No. 2 and FC Cincinnati at No. 3. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Red Bulls II filled out the top five.
Game day promotions: As LouCity seeks an attendance record, the club is asking fans to Purple Out at Slugger, sporting the primary color. Presenting sponsor Baptist Health is also set to give away 1,500 mini cowbells to fans. With the game LouCity’s second ESPN3 broadcast of the season, following the April 27 draw with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, game time has moved 20 minutes back to 7:50 p.m.
Cincinnati native stands out: LouCity’s Kyle Smith caught the attention of coach James O’Connor at a tryout camp last December and became a surprisingly big offseason addition. The Transylvania University graduate has logged the most minutes of any player with the club. Listed as a midfielder, Smith plays at right back and is tied for the team lead in assists at four. He also scored his first professional goal May 28 in a 2-0 win over the Charleston Battery.
Montano recognized: In just his second start of the season, Louisville City FC defender Enrique Montano made enough of an impact to land a spot on the United Soccer League’s Team of the Week. Montano on Tuesday led a pair of defensive players recognized by the league, as goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh also earned a mention on the bench after posting a 1-0, shutout victory at Rochester. In addition to helping along the back line, Montano took charge on throws and set pieces against the Rhinos in his return to the Starting XI.
Forty Under 40: Louisville Business First on Monday named Louisville City FC president Amanda Duffy to its list of young professionals “making important contributions in our business community.” Duffy, the only female president in the 29-team USL, joined LouCity before its inaugural season originally as vice president of operations. She was promoted to general manager and then in November named president after the club finished second in the Eastern Conference standings and second overall in the league in average attendance.
Austin Berry’s return: The 2012 Major League Soccer rookie of the year signed with his hometown club, FC Cincinnati, now four years removed from a stellar career at the University of Louisville. The defender has appeared in five matches this season and scored two goals from just three shots attempted.
Hoffman on a roll: Striker Chandler Hoffman enters the week tied for second in the USL in scoring with 10 goals. He’s in the running for the league’s golden boot along with LA Galaxy II’s Jack McBean (12 goals) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2’s Kyle Greig. Hoffman has three multi-goal matches this season, including a hat trick April 16 at FC Cincinnati.
Familiar faces back: As an 84th-minute substitute, Kadeem Dacres entered Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos and in the process logged his first minutes in USL play since a May 14 match against Saint Louis FC. A game earlier, on June 11 against the Wilmington Hammerheads, Magnus Rasmussen made his season debut on the comeback from a hip injury. Rasmussen scored 8 goals for LouCity in 2015 and Dacres 6.