Josh Wynder scored his first career USL Championship goal, Sean Totsch hit the back of the net for a third straight game, and Louisville City FC moved back atop the Eastern Conference table Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Birmingham Legion FC.
The result came after Birmingham equalized to open the second half only to unravel minutes later. Midfielder Mikey Lopez saw a second yellow card and, playing down a man, the visitors conceded a game-winning penalty kick. The referee also sent off Legion FC coach Tom Soehn following the final goal, much to the delight of 9,627 fans at Lynn Family Stadium.
Coach Danny Cruz summed it up as “an exciting game — an entertaining game.”
“I thought we took our goals well,” Cruz added. “There’s obviously a lot of frustration from (Birmingham) in regard to the penalty. I’ve watched it back. I think it’s a clear penalty. I understand they’re frustrated about a few things, and I get it. But I do feel like we created more than enough opportunities tonight to win this game.”
LouCity improved to 11-3-3 as a result. Paired with Memphis 901 FC’s defeat Saturday to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the boys in purple moved a point clear atop the Eastern Conference table behind their third straight win.
LouCity out-shot (17-5), out-passed (389-261) and out-possessed (59.9%-40.1%) Birmingham in a dominant performance. But the 80th-minute whistle aided City on a night when finishing touch lacked.
The speedy Brian Ownby just beat lunging Legion FC goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel to a ball in the box, going down to send Totsch to the spot. The veteran defender confidently struck the game winner for his third goal in as many games and career-high fifth of the season.
Earlier, Josh Wynder headed in a 32nd-minute free kick from Niall McCabe to give City its original lead. It marked a poignant connection between a member of the club’s original 2015 squad (McCabe) and a budding 17-year-old star from the youth academy ranks (Wynder).
“It was a great feeling to score my first goal here at home,” Wynder said. “Niall put it on a platter for me. I really didn’t have to do much on that.
“…It’s an honor to play professionally in the state that I’m from and have all my friends and family here every home game — great feeling.”
Totsch and Wynder held it down on defense, too. Birmingham didn’t so much as attempt a shot until the 50th minute. Even Enzo Martinez’s brilliant, equalizing strike two minutes later came from a low-percentage place, and Legion FC went on to tally 0.21 expected goals on the night, per Stats Perform.
“In my mind, I thought we didn’t necessarily play as well at the start of the second half,” Totsch said. “But their goal really came out of a brilliant shot. It was not something where we were lacking super defensively or anything. He cut in and buried that, and I don’t expect any goalie to save that really.”
LouCity’s chances at a win increased after a reckless, 65th-minute challenge by Lopez led to his second yellow. As Birmingham played shorthanded, Ownby got in behind for a look that Van Oakel had to stretch to save in the 71st minute. Corben Bone came off the bench to roll a 79th-minute shot from the top of the box just wide left as well.
Ownby won the penalty seconds later, and Totsch both continued his scoring ways while ensuring LouCity’s winning form held up again.
“I think we’re finding different ways to win games,” Cruz said. “Tonight, it’s really unfortunate for Wilson” Harris, the starting forward who subbed off due to injury in the first half.
“We’ve got to see what it looks like, but we’re concerned about his ribs. We’ll take a look at that…Cam (Lancaster), we’re still trying to work him back. He’s got a little bit of a groin injury, but at the same time guys have to step up.
“Brian, we move him up top, and Ray (Serrano) comes on. I thought the two of them did a great job. Ray came on and made a real difference. You’re finding ways to win, and players when their number is called have to come on and do their job.”
The boys in purple — who have also defeated Orange County SC and Hartford Athletic as part of their winning streak — turn around to host New York Red Bulls II next Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium.
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Birmingham Legion FC
Date: July 2, 2022
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 85 degrees, cloudy
Player of the Match: Josh Wynder
Louisville City FC (1, 1, 2)
Birmingham Legion FC (0, 1, 1)
Louisville City FC:
31’ Josh Wynder (Niall McCabe)
83’ Sean Totsch
Birmingham Legion FC:
52’ Enzo Martinez
Louisville City FC: 18 — Danny Faundez, 6 — Wes Charpie (62’ 15 — Manny Perez), 66 — Josh Wynder, 4 — Sean Totsch, 3 — Amadou Dia, 12 — Tyler Gibson (62’ 13 — Corben Bone), 11 — Niall McCabe, 9 — Jorge Gonzalez (84′ 36 — Paolo DelPiccolo), 10 — Brian Ownby, 14 — Wilson Harris (42’ 21 — Ray Serrano), 77 — Enoch Mushagalusa (84′ 7 — Napo Matsoso)
Subs not used: 24 — Parkier Siegfried, 19 — Oscar Jimenez
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Birmingham Legion FC: 1 — Matt Van Oekel, 3 — Phanuel Kavita, 13 — Jake Rufe (46’ 6 — Anderson Asiedu), 21 — Alex Crognale, 24 — Johnny Dean, 5 — Mikey Lopez, 19 — Enzo Martinez, 20 — Zach Herivaux, 7 — Ryan James (46’ 8 — Bruno Lapa), 11 — Marlon Santos (87′ 17 — Matthew Corcoran), 99 — Juan Agudelo (74’ 9 — Edi Horvat)
Subs not used: 10 — Prosper Kasim, 18 — Trevor Spangenberg, 23 — Grayson Dupont
Head Coach: Tom Soehn
Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Birmingham Legion FC
Shots: 17 / 5
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Possession: 59.9% / 40.1%
Fouls: 15 / 12
Offside: 6 / 7
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Louisville City FC:
61’ Jorge Gonzalez (yellow)
90’+ Napo Matsoso (yellow)
Birmingham Legion FC:
9’ Mikey Lopez (yellow)
33’ Enzo Martinez (yellow)
57’ Marlon Santos (yellow)
65’ Mikey Lopez (yellow)
80’ Phanuel Kavita (yellow)
82’ Alex Crognale (yellow)
Referee: JC Griggs