And with that, the stage is set.
Louisville City FC rallied from a goal down Saturday to coast past the Charleston Battery, 4-1, in front of the season’s largest crowd so far at Lynn Family Stadium. Now, attention turns to arguably the biggest regular season game in club history.
City sits a point ahead of next Saturday’s visitor, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, on the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference table. Of course, it’s the Rowdies who have also dispatched the boys in purple from the playoffs two years straight in the conference final round.
The 1 vs. 2 matchup coincides with LouCity’s “Fill the Fam” promotion — the third kit’s debut, a blackout in the stands and postgame fireworks, among other attractions. After 11,981 fans were on hand to see the Charleston win, a stadium-record crowd is imminent next weekend.
“It’ll be a huge opportunity at home in front of a full stadium,” said coach Danny Cruz. “I am confident that with the support that’s coming, the players are going to put on a good performance.
“…It’s an opportunity to drift away from a team that’s chasing us in the table. It’s a massive opportunity to pull away.”
But first, back to Saturday’s business. Charleston scored the opener seemingly out of nowhere when DZ Harmon connected a cross to Augustine Williams in the 26th minute. LouCity’s appeals for offside weren’t met.
At the time, the boys in purple had controlled 63% of possession and earned five corners to the Battery’s zero. That dominance finally translated to a goal for the hosts in the 30th minute when Brian Ownby fired a half-cleared corner kick into the box, seeing it bounce off a defender on its way in.
“My goal took a little deflection,” Ownby said. “I thought it brought some more life into the game. I thought the second half was class. … I think we wanted to keep going and not let them get another sniff. I thought the attitude was excellent from the group.
Out of the half, City poured it on. Amadou Dia threaded a 52nd-minute pass through traffic, and Enoch “Matiti” Mushagalusa scored on a smooth cutback in the box. Wilson Harris picked a defender’s pocket in the 67th minute and finished all on his own before Dia crossed to an unmarked Sean Totsch for the final nail in the 89th minute.
Along the way, Charleston went shorthanded in the 63rd minute when Enock Kwaka made contact with the referee in response to a whistle. The 10-man battery wound up being out-shot 25-5, with City generating eight “Big Chances,” according to Stats Perform.
“I think it was a good response being down a goal,” Cruz said. “We must execute in the final third. I know it sounds a little weird given we scored four goals tonight. I thought in the first half we should have finished our chances because you give the opponent one opportunity and the game changes. I was happy with the response after halftime.
“I thought there were some good individual performances on the night. Again, three points in front of a packed house: I’m happy with it.
Harris made his goal a team-leading ninth of the season; for Ownby (eight) and Totsch (six), it’s career-highs; and Mushagalusa (seven) is one off his best scoring year as a pro.
It’s that sort of depth the boys in purple — who are eight games unbeaten since a defeat back on June 5 at, yes, Tampa Bay — will hope puts them over the top against a stubborn rival. Kickoff Aug. 13 between City and the Rowdies is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Tonight, was bigger than us. It was more about Super Drew and all the kids going through the things he’s been going through,” said Dia, referring to the club’s honorary captain — Drew Esposito — an 8-year-old cancer survivor signed to a one-game contract this week. Super Drew led City onto the field and joined in on the postgame celebration in addition to being recognized at halftime as the Norton Children’s Superhero of the Game.
“We did it for him and all the fans,” Dia added. “It was a good step up to lead into a massive game next week.”
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs Charleston Battery
Date: August 6, 2022
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 95 degrees, partly cloudy
Man of the Match: Enoch Mushagalusa
Louisville City FC (1, 3, 4)
Charleston Battery (1, 0, 1)
25’ Augustine Williams (DZ Harmon)
Louisville City FC:
31’ Brian Ownby
52’ Enoch Mushagalusa (Amadou Dia)
67’ Wilson Harris
89’ Sean Totsch (Amadou Dia)
Louisville City FC: 1 – Kyle Morton, 3 – Amadou Dia, 6 – Wes Charpie, 15 – Manny Perez, 4 – Sean Totsch, 12 – Tyler Gibson (74’ 13 – Corben Bone), 11 – Niall McCabe (74’ 8 – Carlos Moguel Jr.), 9 – Jorge Gonzalez, 77 – Enoch Mushagalusa (83’ 7 – Napo Matsoso), 10 – Brian Ownby (83’ 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo), 14 – Wilson Harris (74’ 21 – Ray Serrano
Subs not used: 24 – Parker Siegfried, 19 – Oscar Jimenez, 32
Honorary Captain: Super Drew
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Charleston Battery: 30 – Hugo Fauroux, 5 – Leland Archer, 20 – AJ Paterson (78’ 17 – Aidan Apodaca, 23 – Preston Kilwien, 8 – Dominic Oduro (56’ 24 – Mauro Cichero), 6 – Robbie Crawford, 26 – Charlie Asensio (78’ 25 – Alexander Dexter), 19 – DZ Harmon (56’ 13 – Matt Sheldon), 21 – Enock Kwakwa, 10 – Romario Piggott (56’ 12 – Geobel Perez Jr.), 9 – Augustine Williams
Subs not used: 31 – Daniel Kuzemka, 15 – Joe Schmidt
Head Coach: Conor Casey
Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Charleston Battery
Shots: 25 / 5
Shots on Goal: 10 / 1
Possession: 58.8% / 41.2%
Fouls: 12 / 13
Offside: 4 / 0
Corner Kicks: 15 / 2
35’ AJ Patterson (Yellow)
63’ Enock Kwakwa (Red)
80’ Geobel Perez Jr. (Yellow)
Louisville City FC
90 +2’ Wes Charpie (Yellow)
Referee: Joshua Encarnacion