Louisville City FC and Detroit City FC had met twice before their first clash as USL Championship rivals. Both of those games went to LouCity in penalty kick shootouts as part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2016 and 2022.
Similarly, the boys in purple prevailed Saturday night thanks to a shot from the spot with Ray Serrano earning and Sean Totsch scoring a decisive penalty kick in a 1-0 victory at a rowdy Keyworth Stadium.
City hit the back of the net in the 67th minute but had to survive shorthanded the rest of the way after defender Wes Charpie saw the first of City’s two red cards minutes later. So continued a contentious series with Detroit, a USL Championship newcomer that gets a return game Oct. 5 at Lynn Family Stadium.
Saturday’s win extended LouCity’s league-leading unbeaten streak to 10 games — nine of those are wins — as the club improved to 17-3-4. City’s 55 points remain the best in the Eastern Conference as the season hits its home stretch.
“I felt we were relentless for 90 minutes,” said head coach Danny Cruz. “We talked about it all week. It’s not about playing soccer at this stadium. It’s about being resilient, about having the right mentality, understanding that the ball is going to spent half the time at this stadium in the air.
“I felt that given what the game asked for, we answered the call. I was really, really proud of how our group handled going up a goal. I was really proud of how our group handled the red cards that we received — a collective effort from the group and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Serrano stood out before earning the go-ahead penalty. In the third minute, his shot from out wide right required a save and went down as the best threat by the visitors in the opening 45 minutes. Just seconds into the second half, he managed to hit the post, and in the 56th minute Serrano nearly scored when lunging into the box for a rebound only to be whistled for a foul.
LouCity was applying consistent pressure leading up to a pair of game-changing whistles. Serrano looked to re-gain possession with a nifty flick in the box when he was cut down in the box. Totsch followed by tucking in his career-high seventh goal of the year.
“I think my movement in the first half and second half was really good, and I thought those chances I created were good chances,” Serrano said.
“It’s been a point of ours to start second halves better because that’s kind of been a weak point throughout the season,” Totsch added. “We really wanted to with the right energy. Knowing they had a game mid-week, we felt like if we started the second half with a lot of energy that they would be tired and we would have our opportunities.”
Another high-impact call saw Charpie sent off for an apparent denial of a goal-scoring opportunity as Detroit worked in transition. From there, LouCity made a series of defensive subs while finishing out the game first with 10 men, then down to nine when Wilson Harris received a second yellow for time wasting late.
Between the posts, goalkeeper Kyle Morton continued a standout first season with City, numbering his 11th clean sheet. And it’s not often Detroit falls on its home turf, with the hosts entering Saturday having lost just once in 12 league games this season.
“We have a game like this where it’s ugly, it’s a scrap, you’re coming into a tough place to play,” Totsch said. “They relish in this environment, so we had to match their intensity and even try to bring it up a level above them and make them match ours. I loved the effort from everybody. It wasn’t just the defenders. It was guys in the midfield — guys who subbed on.
“It was a lot of work because when we went a man down, it took a lot from the midfielders having to track lines and apply pressure so it wasn’t free service. A lot of credit to the whole team.”
Both Charpie and Harris will be out next week when City travels to play Miami FC. But in a bit of good news offered by coach Cruz, Brian Ownby’s absence Saturday isn’t expected to linger, and defender Josh Wynder could re-enter the rotation.
Game Summary: Detroit City FC vs. Louisville City FC
Date: August 20, 2022
Venue: Keyworth Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 71 degrees, cloudy
Man of the Match: Sean Totsch
Detroit City FC (0, 0, 0)
Louisville City FC (0, 1, 1)
Louisville City FC:
66’ Sean Totsch
Detroit City FC: 1 — Nathan Steinwascher, 12 — Michael Bryant, 5 — Stephen Carroll, 15 — Matthew Lewis, 20 — Deklan Wynne, 6 — Brad Dunwell (77’ 9 — Francis Autahene), 21 — Maxi Rodriguez, 2 — Rhys Williams, 11 — Connor Rutz, 29 — Antoine Hoppenot, 19 — Pato Botello Faz (76’ 27 — Yazeed Matthews)
Subs not used: 13 — Ryan Shallow, 22 — Karl Ouimette, 24 — Dominic Gasso, 47 — Barnabas Tanyl
Head Coach: Trevor James
Louisville City FC: 1 – Kyle Morton, 3 – Amadou Dia, 6 – Wes Charpie, 4 — Sean Totsch, 15 – Manny Perez, 12 – Tyler Gibson, 13 — Corben Bone (58’ 8 — Carlos Moguel Jr.), 36 — Paolo DelPiccolo (83’ 7 — Napo Matsoso), 21 — Ray Serrano (72’ 32 — Ian Soler), 77 — Enoch Mushagalusa (72’ 19 — Oscar Jimenez),14 Wilson Harris
Subs not used: 18 – Danny Faundez, 30 — Jan-Erik Leinhos, 23 — Elijah Wynder
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Stats Summary: Detroit City FC / Louisville City FC
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 4 / 6
Possession: 55.3% / 44.7%
Fouls: 13 / 20
Offside: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Detroit City FC:
84’ Michael Bryant (yellow)
Louisville City FC:
69’ Wes Charpie (red card)
86’ Wilson Harris (yellow card)
90’+4 Wilson Harris (second yellow card)
Referee: Matthew Thompson