Coach James O’Connor’s assessment of Louisville City FC’s regular season is a positive one. The club took away, on average, two points per game and finished second behind only a record-breaking New York Red Bulls II squad in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings.
But, O’Connor said Monday, “It means nothing” — not with the playoffs now here.
“It’s all about preparing for Sunday’s game,” O’Connor told local media members during his regular weekly press conference. “…When you get a one-off game like this, it’s making sure you perform to the best of your ability and don’t let the occasion get to you.”
LouCity will next host the Richmond Kickers, the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed, in a 7 p.m. game at Slugger Field.
The opener to the USL Cup Playoffs makes for a rematch of a Sept. 10 game in Louisville, one LouCity won 2-0 over the Kickers. Going back to last year, O’Connor and the boys in purple found postseason success at Slugger, topping the Charleston Battery in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With the USL playoffs expanded this year from six teams from both conferences to eight, no longer do the top-two seeds earn byes. It’ll take four wins in as many weeks to hoist the USL Cup.
LouCity enters on a five-game unbeaten streak, with four of those victories before Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Charlotte Independence.
“We’ve been pleased with our form,” O’Connor said. “I think, certainly, the last few games we feel as though we’ve had some really strong performances. We feel that comes from the way we’ve trained. We’ve had some really strong performances in training as well. It’s making sure you carry that all the way through.”
More from O’Connor at Monday’s press conference…
- On 2015 playoffs versus 2016: “Each season and each group of players are different. I think you need to approach the game against Richmond with the correct mindset. Understand the playoff situation. Character’s going to be really important. So I think it’s very difficult to make comparisons between last year. I think it’s more important that you focus on what you can control, which is getting a good week’s training into you and preparing for the game.”
- On big individual performances: “There’s loads of players I can point to who I think have had really strong years. We’ve got a lot of quality in the squad. I think there’s going to be certain night when a player scores and maybe grabs the headlines. For Greg (Ranjitsingh), for instance, if he saves a penalty he’ll maybe grab the headlines. For us, again, it’s looking at things constructively and looking over the course of the season and being analytical with how we go about things, which we are.”
- On the possibility of a penalty shootout in the playoffs: “I think you need to manage the game as it goes. We obviously had penalties early in the year in the (U.S.) Open Cup. Again, you try and be aware of situations. From (Kickers coach) (Leigh (Cowlishaw’s) standpoint and my standpoint, we’re both trying to win the game in regulation. Certainly, from their point and my point, it’s not something you want to try and do — go to penalties.”