Louisville City FC clinched a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season Saturday night, topping Sacramento Republic, 3-1, in driving rain at Lynn Family Stadium.
Wilson Harris, Sean Totsch and Elijah Wynder each scored for LouCity, which extended its home unbeaten run to eight matches, including seven wins. The win was not without obstacles – Sacramento equalized at 1-1 in the 29th minute and the game was delayed an hour and 20 minutes by severe weather in the area – but City snapped a two-game losing skid in the process.
“Obviously the weather delay makes things a little difficult,” said LouCity coach Danny Cruz. “But all in all, it was a really good response from the last two results, and hopefully we can take this into another busy week.”
LouCity (18-5-4, 58 points) snapped up one of the seven USL Championship Eastern Conference playoff spots before the final whistle when FC Tulsa’s loss put City too far ahead of its former divisional rival with seven matches left in the regular season. The victory still helped the first-place boys in purple maintain their four-point lead on the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies in the conference standings.
City now has its sights set on bigger goals: scoring the most points in the USL Championship, locking up the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket and, ultimately, claiming a third trophy as league champion. But, Cruz said, the first step is qualifying for the postseason, and that cannot go unappreciated.
“There are guys in that locker room who haven’t done it before, so it’s something to be proud of,” Cruz said. “But again, for us, it’s just one step in the direction that we expected, so everybody in that locker room deserves a ton of credit for where we are right now.”
Harris opened the scoring in the ninth minute, knocking in a perfectly-shaped cross from Amadou Dia from the left wing. It was the 23-year-old’s team-best 11th goal of the regular season, and Dia extended his team lead in assists with his seventh helper.
Sacramento (12-8-7, 43 points) tied the game 20 minutes later through Emil Cuello, who headed home Douglas Martinez’s cross from the right flank. But the visitors, who play in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday, rarely threatened after that.
City retook the lead just before halftime, carrying momentum into the break with Totsch’s header off Paolo DelPiccolo’s well-placed corner. Totsch is now two goals away from his target of double-digit regular-season goals, a high mark for a center back.
“I went to a spot I wasn’t supposed to be in the box,” Totsch said with a grin, “but I just tried to adjust to guys marking me. I told myself I was going to want it more than anybody else.”
Play resumed after the lengthy delay because of lightning strikes in the area, and despite an early push from Sacramento, LouCity controlled proceedings over the final 25 minutes.
Then Wynder put the cherry on top of the win, scoring his first professional goal while providing an insurance score for City. The Louisville native and older brother of teammate Josh Wynder drifted into an open pocket of space near the penalty spot and coolly finished a pass from Napo Matsoso in the 87th minute.
It was an especially meaningful moment for Wynder, who was LouCity’s first-ever academy signing as a teenager and just recently returned from a loan spell with FC Tucson.
“It’s a great starting point for my first goal,” Wynder said. “The older players have helped me out, coming back home after my first time being away from here. They made it easy on me to get back acclimated to the team.”
City now turns its attention to another road trip – with two games in four days, starting with a match at FC Tulsa before a visit to Pittsburgh. And even with the playoffs clinched, there’s plenty left to play for.
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC
Date: September 3, 2022
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 74 degrees, cloudy
Player of the Match: Sean Totsch
Louisville City FC (2, 1, 3)
Sacramento Republic FC (1, 0, 1)
Louisville City FC:
9’ Wilson Harris (assisted by Amadou Dia)
45’ Sean Totsch (assisted by Paolo DelPiccolo)
87’ Elijah Wynder (assisted by Napo Matsoso)
Sacramento Republic FC:
29’ Emil Cuello (Douglas Martinez)
Louisville City FC (4-2-3-1): 1 – Kyle Morton, 15 – Manny Perez, 3 – Amadou Dia, 4 – Sean Totsch, 6 – Wes Charpie (90+4’ 19 – Oscar Jimenez), 12 – Tyler Gibson, 21- Ray Serrano (67’ 77 – Enoch Mushagalusa), 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo (45’ 13 – Corben Bone), 14 – Wilson Harris (90’ 32 – Ian Soler), 9 – Jorge Gonzalez (80’ 23 – Elijah Wynder), 10 – Brian Ownby (80’ 7 – Napo Matsoso)
Subs not used: 18 – Danny Faundez
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Sacramento Republic FC (4-4-2): 1 – Carlos Saldaña, 12 – Ferrety Sousa (89’ 47 – Fernado Venegas), 14 – Duke Lacroix, 6 – Josh Bauer, 4 – Lee Desmond (37’ 43 – Santiago Suarez), 19 – Nick Ross, 11 – Emil Cuello, 10 – Zeiko Lewis (89’ 52 – Jose Ponce), 34 – Rafael Jauregui (58’ 17 – Luther Archimède), 42 – Douglas Martinez, 26 – Deshorn Brown
Subs not used: 31 – Danny Vitiello
Head Coach: Mark Briggs
Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Sacramento Republic FC
Shots: 12 / 9
Shots on Goal: 6 / 1
Possession: 54.6% / 45.4%
Fouls: 16 / 10
Offside: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 2
Louisville City FC:
24’ Amadou Dia (yellow)
51’ Sean Totsch (yellow)
77’ Brian Ownby (yellow)
Sacramento Republic FC:
27’ Rafael Jauregui (yellow)
Referee: Kevin Broadley