Louisville City FC coach James O’Connor admits that “for the journalists and reporters,” his mantra is “very boring, because you want to hear something other than me preach, ‘It’s the next game.’
“Unfortunately,” the coach added Monday, “that’s just the way it is.”
Fortunately for LouCity, the approach has the club in first place and looking to extend the lead down the stretch of the United Soccer League’s regular season. Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Slugger Field against the Harrisburg City Islanders marks the first of three games in 10 days, with the last of them a looming showdown with the second-place New York Red Bulls II.
LouCity regained first place in the USL’s Eastern Conference on Friday, rallying from down a goal at the half top top the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 2-1. George Davis IV recorded a brace on his 29th birthday and helped his club end a two-game losing streak.
But, Davis said, “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
One game at a time, of course.
With a 13-3-6 record, LouCity has racked up 45 points, one better than the Red Bulls, who do have a game in hand. So does FC Cincinnati, which sits in third with 41 points.
“It’s natural to go look at the results in the league,” Davis said, “but when you put the ball in your hands and control your own destiny, that’s the better feeling as opposed to worrying about what other teams are doing and what other results are.”
The Islanders enter Wednesday’s game at Slugger near the bottom of the table, in 12th of 14 clubs in the East, though they challenged LouCity in the teams’ previous meeting this season. It took a Mark-Anthony Kaye goal in the 90th minute for Louisville to score a 3-2 win on April 22.
Harrisburg fell 5-0 last time out to Red Bulls II.
“The first half against New York, they had a lot of chances,” O’Connor said. “That result isn’t really indicative of the way that game played out. I think for us, it’s being aware of Harrisburg. They have a lot of pace in their team. They’ve got some great technical players.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re on point for what will be a very difficult game.”
LouCity midfielder Guy Abend, who returns Wednesday from a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, said “it’s going to be rough” playing a flurry of games in fewer than two weeks. The Harrisburg game is the last mid-week contest the club has scheduled in 2016.
For O’Connor, the message is simple: “It’s making sure your mindset is correct and focusing on what you can control.”