Ray Serrano scored his first club goal, Louisville City FC continued its clean sheet streak, and the boys in purple maintained their perfect start to the 2022 season Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over New York Red Bulls II.
LouCity — which entered off shutout home wins over Atlanta United 2 and Miami FC — this time took all three points away from Lynn Family Stadium, controlling most of the going at MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, N.J.
They’re early days in the 34-game USL Championship campaign, but the result positioned the boys in purple atop the Eastern Conference table. The club will look to match its best ever start of 4-0, accomplished in its most-recent title-winning season in 2018, when hosting rival Indy Eleven at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s been an excellent three games, but we’re nowhere near where I believe we can be,” said coach Danny Cruz. “I think the players would tell you the same thing, which is excellent. It means we have room for growth. We’re going to continue to do that on a quick turnaround and hopefully put on a performance everyone can be proud of against Indy.”
Starting on the front foot, LouCity held 68% of possession over the game’s opening 30 minutes, producing the game-winner in the process. Combination play in the box saw the ball shift quickly from Enoch Mushagalusa on the end line before Paolo DelPiccolo flicked on to Serrano.
A 19-year-old offseason signing from the Seattle Sounders organization, Serrano scored on his second-chance opportunity at the face of goal.
“I can’t say enough about him,” team captain Paolo DelPiccolo said of Serrano. “We’ve seen his performances, and they speak for themselves. But for me, a big part of it is always how someone is in the locker room — how they act and integrate with the group. He’s been nothing short of incredible in the locker room. He’s a guy that everyone wants to be next to at lunch and talk with and enjoy. Then you get on the field and he does the same thing.
“He works hard. He does exactly what’s asked of him and more. I can’t speak highly enough of Ray.”
Serrano’s moment came in his first start as he, Mushagalusa and defender Sean Totsch rotated in on a short turnaround. from Saturday Mushagalusa also signed this past offseason from a Major League Soccer organization, Sporting KC, while Totsch enters 2022 as a back-to-back All-League First Team selection at center back.
LouCity held Red Bulls II to 0.40 expected goals with a lone shot on target across the 90 minutes. New goalkeeper Kyle Morton reached to tip a 32nd-minute shot over the bar after the boys in purple turned it over in their own half.
Other contentious moments included a 22nd-minute takedown of LouCity forward Wilson Harris in the box to no avail from the referee. Serrano also nearly added an assist to his evening when a 51st-minute corner caromed off Totsch’s head and demanded a Red Bulls II save.
The game effectively ended in the 86th minute when Harris got in behind only to be pulled down again just outside of the box. This time he got the whistle, resulting in a sending off for New York’s Lamine Conte. Harris netted the ensuing free kick from distance to cement the win.
“We talked before this game about the importance of a shutout,” Cruz said. “We know we have the quality to score goals week in and week out, but what we want to make sure is the pressure is for 90 minutes, not for 60. We want to make sure the defensive effort is collective from our (No.) 9 all the way to our goalkeeper. When you look at our last three games, I feel we certainly have had that.”
Game Summary: Red Bulls II vs. Louisville City FC
Date: March 23, 2022
Venue: MSU Soccer Park
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Weather: 42 degrees, light rain
Man of the Match:
Red Bulls II (0, 0, 0)
Louisville City FC (1, 1, 2)
18’ Louisville City FC: Ray Serrano
88’ Louisville City FC: Wilson Harris
Red Bulls II: 40 – AJ Marcucci, 60 – Curtis Ofori (75’ 41 – John Cortez), 80 – Juan Castillo, 56 – Lamine Conte, 88 – O’Vonte Mullings, 53 – John Murphy, 22 – Serge Ngoma (33’ 49 – Sam Williams), 36, Jeremy Rafanello, 24 – Jason Pendant (75 30 – Jordan Adebayo-Smith), 77 – Jonathan Filipe, 28 – Zach Ryan
Subs not used: 81 – Derreck Chan, 66 – Michael Knapp, 54 – Illia Tyrkus, 76 – Ezra Widman
Head Coach: Gary Lewis
Louisville City FC: 1 – Kyle Morton; 15 – Manny Perez, 4 – Sean Totsch, 66 – Josh Wynder, 3 – Amadou Dia; 12 – Tyler Gibson (31’ 7 – Napo Matsoso), 13 – Corben Bone (91’ 32 – Ian Soler), 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo, 21 – Ray Serrano (65’ 8 – Carlos Moguel Jr.), 77 – Enoch Mushagalusa (65’ 10 – Brian Ownby), 14 – Wilson Harris
Subs not used: 24 – Parker Siegfried, 30 – Jan-Erik Leinhos, 6 – Wes Charpie
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Stats Summary: Red Bulls II / Louisville City FC
Shots: 6 / 13
Shots on Goal: 1 / 6
Possession: 43.6% / 56.4%
Fouls: 18 / 11
Offside: 6 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
20’ Red Bulls II: Juan Castillo (yellow)
57’ Louisville City FC: Enoch Mushagalusa (yellow)
62’ Red Bulls II: John Murphy (yellow)
62’ Louisville City FC: Paolo DelPiccolo (yellow)
63’ Louisville City FC: Kyle Morton (yellow)
77’ Red Bulls II: Lamine Conte (yellow)
Referee: Adam Kilpatrick