There’s a lot riding on Louisville City FC’s final road game of the regular season, an 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff at Rio Grande Valley FC in south Texas.
The matchup is the first of three pivotal games to close out the campaign, with City aiming to secure first place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference and the accompanying bye to start the playoffs.
LouCity (19-6-6, 63 points) has a narrow two-point edge over Memphis 901, which topped the boys in purple this past weekend in Louisville and holds a game in hand. City is the third-best road team in the Eastern Conference, with eight wins and four draws in 16 matches away from home.
This is the first meeting between the two clubs. Rio Grande Valley (12-12-6, 42 points) hosts LouCity amid a four-game winning streak. The Toros are in seventh place in the Western Conference, leading the race for the final playoff spot by two points over three other teams while also having a game in hand on each of them.
The Toros have actually struggled at home, posting a .500 record at H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas.
- The game will air live locally on My58 TV and ESPN Louisville’s 680/105.7, with streaming via ESPN+ and the WDRB Now app.
- For Starting XI and in-game updates, follow @loucityfc on Twitter and Louisville City FC on Facebook. Also find the club at louisvillecityfc on Instagram.
- Corben Bone (Out, suspension)
- Tyler Gibson (Out, red card)
- Cameron Lancaster (Questionable, injury)
- Niall McCabe (Out, injury)
Staying home: Despite the loss to Memphis 901 last Friday, LouCity still secured at least one home playoff game. Pittsburgh’s draw the following day with Orange County SC guaranteed a top-four finish for the boys in purple, who will either open the postseason Oct. 22 (with a 2-4 finish in the standings) or Oct. 29 (should they finish top of the table and earn the No. 1 seed).
Playoff format: The top seven teams in both conferences qualify for the single-elimination USL Championship playoffs. No. 1 seeds receive byes past the conference quarterfinals, and brackets will be re-seeded ahead of the conference semifinals to ensure they play the lowest-seeded remaining clubs. The postseason runs through the USL Championship Final on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Question mark: LouCity’s midfield depth will be tested with Tyler Gibson and Corben Bone both suspended. Gibson was served his card against Memphis 901 following a stoppage-time skirmish, while Bone received his ban after a USL Championship postgame review. Bone (28) and Gibson (27) are among City’s appearance leaders through 31 games.
Back to it: Star striker Cameron Lancaster’s status has been upgraded from out to questionable heading into Saturday. Lancaster hasn’t been seen since suffering a groin injury in warmups for LouCity’s June 18 game against Orange County SC. Lancaster has seen time in only three games this year due to a hamstring injury suffered in preseason.
Leads lost: Last Saturday’s match was the third time this season LouCity lost after scoring first. The boys in purple dropped early leads on the road in May 13 and August 31 losses at LA Galaxy II and Indy Eleven, respectively, making Friday’s loss the first incident on home soil. The club has only been defeated six times in 2022.
Between the posts: With 12 clean sheets on the season, goalkeeper Kyle Morton continues to share LouCity’s regular-season shutout record set by Greg Ranjitsingh in 2018. Morton could also still match the USL Championship’s single-season record of 15 — but City has struggled to keep clean sheets lately with one in its last seven games.
Wilson wows: Forward Wilson Harris lifted his career- and team-high goals total to 13 when he netted LouCity’s score against Memphis last Friday. The 22-year-old, who signed this past offseason from the Sporting Kansas City organization, has scored in three of his past five matches.
Captain America: Defender Josh Wynder will return from his third call-up with the U.S. Men’s Youth National Team’s U-19 side in time for Saturday’s game. The Louisville native made two starts in the Slovenia Nations Cup, helping the U.S. win the tournament while wearing the captain’s armband Tuesday versus Scotland. Last Friday, he registered his first international goal contribution with an assisting in a victory over Croatia.