Louisville City FC will play for two causes on Saturday at Slugger Field: to raise money on Cancer Awareness Night and advance its standing with the United Soccer League’s postseason nearing.
Here’s what to watch for with Bethlehem Steel FC, affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, in for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
LouCity: 13-4-8 (47 points) in 25 games; 2nd in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Bethlehem Steel FC: 6-10-8 (26 points) in 24 games; 9th in the USL’s East.
Saturday’s game will air, as with other LouCity games, live on Youtube with play-by-play from Jim Wombwell and commentary by Bob Valvano.
Vote for LouCity’s Modelo Man of the Match starting at the 75th minute on Twitter.
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- Video: Coach O’Connor previews Bethlehem game
- Know the foe: More on Bethlehem Steel FC
- Boys and Girls Club kids enjoy afternoon with LouCity
- O’Connor turns focus ‘completely on the players’
- Q&A: Get to know midfielder Andrew Lubahn
Cancer Awareness Night: LouCity is raising money for local, cancer-related charities through both online ticket code “Cancer2016” and “LouCity Kicks Cancer” wrist bands, which will be on sale Saturday for $2 at Slugger Field. Additionally, players will add gold shoelaces — a color representing pediatric cancer awareness — and fans can sign a wall for well wishes toward who are battling or have survived the disease.
Postseason-bound: A Bethlehem Steel FC loss to FC Montreal on Sunday mathematically cleared the way for LouCity to clinch a playoff bid. Eight teams apiece from the Eastern and Western conferences will compete in the single-elimination postseason starting later this month. Better-seeded teams host playoff matchups, which LouCity is on pace to do in the opening round. Five games remain for the club in the regular season.
Ranjitsingh gets the call: LouCity goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh leaves Sunday for Trinidad and Tobago, the nation he’ll represent in a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Ranjitsingh is one of three keepers on T&Ts active roster. The country plays Guatemala on Sept. 2 before facing the United States in Jacksonville on Sept. 6. Ranjitsingh represents LouCity’s first full international call up.
Stats leaders: USL Midseason MVP Chandler Hoffman (14 goals) and Midseason Rookie of the Year Kyle Smith (six assists) both rank second in the league in their respective categories. Hoffman is chasing the LA Galaxy II’s Jack McBean, who has 15 goals, while the right back Smith is two assists from equaling Sacramento Republic FC’s Daniel Barrera.
Seeking a finish: LouCity’s 1-0 loss to the first-place New York Red Bulls II last Friday represented another game in which the guys in purple out-shot an opponent but didn’t come away with a result. While Louisville is 1-3-2 in its last six games, the club has tallied 82 shots, far more than opponents’ 50 combined.
Catch your breath: Coach James O’Connor’s rookies haven’t played through the grind of a 30-game season, and lately the coach has taken to resting them and others down the stretch of the regular season. Three games back, Cameron Lancaster made the start at striker in place of Chandler Hoffman, while five games back Kyle Smith didn’t see the field until stoppage time. The rookie Smith has logged the most minutes on LouCity’s roster this season.
Lancaster emerging: LouCity coach James O’Connor said this week that midfielder Niall McCabe continues to battle a nagging injury, which has opened up the chance for Lancaster to make three consecutive starts. A product of the Tottenham Hotspur academy, he has appeared in an English Premier League game.
Caution counts: After issued his fifth yellow card of the season last week against New York, defender Ben Newnam, a regular at left back, will sit out Saturday’s game due to accumulation. Midfielders George Davis IV and Paolo DelPiccolo are one caution away from suspension, while captain Aodhan Quinn, with seven on the season, would reach the league’s next threshold to miss a game with his eighth yellow.
The streak: LouCity went into its July 23 game at FC Cincinnati riding a string of 17 straight games unbeaten, five off the USL record set by the 2013 Richmond Kickers. While the roll ended, the club has tallied only four losses this season and remains in contention for a USL title. LouCity’s previous franchise-best undefeated streak was six games in 2015.