CINCINNATI — James O’Connor called his players “tremendous” and said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the group. But on Saturday, after a 2-0 defeat at FC Cincinnati that snapped Louisville City FC’s unbeaten streak, the coach conceded that “we weren’t at our best today.”
After going 17 games without a loss, LouCity still remains atop the USL’s Eastern Conference standings, a point ahead of the New York Red Bulls II which hold a game in hand. But a defeat to its rival left Louisville reflecting two-thirds the way into the regular season.
“We’ve been on a long, unbeaten walk, and that doesn’t happen with chance,” O’Connor said. “It happens because we’ve got really good players with a good mentality. It’s easy to get high emotionally when you win and get loud when you’re the top of the league. It’s disappointing that we’ve been beaten, but we’re top of the league for a reason.”
O’Connor, unusually calm after a loss, did add: “Oh, it’s completely ruined my weekend. It’s a good thing the wife and kids are away, because I have the rest of the night to whine and forget about it.”
LouCity looked its usual self at points Saturday. The club tallied 15 shots to FC Cincinnati’s 10 but couldn’t convert. Bright spots included 37 productive minutes from Magnus Rasmussen, still on the comeback from offseason hip surgery. Mark-Anthony Kaye came off the bench as well to graze the cross bar on a late shot.
Defender Sean Reynolds also returned to the pitch for the first time since June 25, the last time LouCity played FC Cincinnati. He described the season as something that’s “long-distance” and “not a sprint.”
The loss is “just something you have to get over,” Reynolds said. “Just like anything that happens in your life: you have to get past it and you have to keep going.”
Rasmussen, who came on in the 54th minute, shared Reynolds’ “big picture” outlook. Among LouCity’s leading scorers last season, he has been recovering for most of a year.
“Eight months is a long time and a long trip to get back and gain fitness and speed,” Rasmussen said. “I try to do my best in training and work hard to get back in the team, but the guys have been doing really well and we’ve only lost two games.”
O’Connor will pour over tape of the game before LouCity returns to training, likely on Wednesday.
“Maybe Monday morning when I sit down and start to go through with it, I’m sure I’ll find something to be happy with it,” O’Connor said of a silver lining. “We’ve got such a competitive group that it’s always disappointing when we lose — as it needs to be.”