Louisville City FC advanced to its eighth consecutive Eastern Conference Final with a thrilling two-goal comeback and penalty shootout victory over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the USL Championship Playoffs on Saturday night at Lynn Family Stadium.
The boys in purple did so in fitting LouCity, next-man-up fashion: Preseason trialist and reserve goalkeeper Danny Faudez made the pivotal save in the shootout, opening the door for the game-winning penalty conversion from Carlos Moguel Jr., a product of the club’s youth academy.
“Where do you start? I am incredibly proud of my group,” said LouCity coach Danny Cruz. “To continue to fight, to continue to believe – that’s what I asked of them before the game. It wasn’t good enough from us regarding quality. That right there, what they did, was amazing. I’m extremely proud of all of them.”
City will host the winner of Sunday’s other Eastern Conference Semifinal between Memphis 901 FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium.
To even get there required a dramatic rally from two goals down late in regulation.
Pittsburgh led much of the game, taking an early lead through Russell Cicerone’s 14th-minute goal and adding a second when Cicerone scored again in the 49th minute. Through 82 minutes, City had only mustered three shots on target.
The 83rd minute, however, sparked the shift that changed the game. After a run of pressure, City finally broke through when Pittsburgh goalkeeper Jahmali White parried Josh Wynder’s volley and Manny Perez smashed in the rebound from six yards out to halve the Riverhounds’ lead.
Eighty-five seconds after Perez’s goal, substitute Elijah Wynder won a penalty for City, drawing a foul in the box on Pittsburgh defender Shane Wiedt. Cameron Lancaster’s 85th-minute penalty score tied the game, completing City’s first comeback from a two-goal deficit since 2019.
“For me, I tried my best to motivate the players,” said Moguel Jr., who came on as a substitute in the 79th minute. “In those minutes, everyone is tired. When we got the first one, that gave us momentum to go out and get the second.”
That all set up the big moments for Faundez and Moguel Jr. after a scoreless 30 minutes of extra time.
First, Faundez — who started the game in place of injured USL Championship Golden Glove winner Kyle Morton — blocked Pittsburgh’s opening penalty from midfielder Danny Griffin, diving to his left to knock away the low shot.
“We did our research,” Faundez said. “I knew which way he favored and took a gamble and saved it.”
Wynder, Sean Totsch, Oscar Jimenez and Napo Matsoso all scored their ensuing penalties. That set up the 19-year-old Moguel Jr., who grew up just outside Louisville, to slot home the game-winning fifth penalty for his hometown team.
“There’s a lot people who do a lot of work to get where we are today,” Cruz said. “I know I’ve said it a hundred times, but the emotion I feel now is pride. I know how much everybody puts into every single day. That was special. The atmosphere was special. The goals were special. The support was special.”
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Date: October 29, 2022
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 65 degrees, cloudy
Louisville City FC (0, 2, 2) (5)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (1, 1, 2) (3)
Louisville City FC:
83’ Manny Perez
85’ Cameron Lancaster (penalty)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC:
14’ Russell Cicerone (Robbie Mertz)
47’ Russell Cicerone (Kenardo Forbes)
Louisville City FC (3-4-3): 18 – Danny Faundez, 66 – Josh Wynder, 6 – Wes Charpie (46’ 13 – Corben Bone), 4 – Sean Totsch; 15 – Manny Perez, 12 – Tyler Gibson (78’ 8 – Carlos Moguel Jr.), 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo (c) (69’ 23 – Elijah Wynder), 3 – Amadou Dia; 77 – Enoch Mushagalusa, 14 – Wilson Harris (69’ 17 – Cameron Lancaster (91’ 19- Oscar Jimenez)), 21 – Ray Serrano (69’ 7 – Napo Matsoso)
Subs not used: 24 – Parker Siegfried
Head Coach: Danny Cruz
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (3-4-3): 26 – Jahmali White; 5 – Mekeil Williams (57’ 27 – Jelani Peters), 15 – Arturo Osuna, 3 – Shane Wiedt (91’ 8 – William Eyang); 7 – Alexander Dixon (82’ 16 – Toby Sims), 11 – Kenardo Forbes (c), 12 – Daniel Griffin, 4 – Daniel Rovira (57’ 6 – Angelo Kelly-Rosales); 14 – Robbie Mertz (91’ 17 – Edward Kizza), 9 – Albert Dikwa, 10 – Russell Cicerone (82’ 18 – Marc Ybarra)
Subs not used: 1 – Kevin Silva
Head Coach: Bob Lilley
Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Shots: 18 / 12
Shots on Goal: 7 / 6
Possession: 66.3% / 33.7%
Fouls: 17 / 21
Offside: 2 / 8
Corner Kicks: 14 / 2
Louisville City FC:
62’ Josh Wynder (yellow)
88’ Manny Perez (yellow)
115′ Amadou Dia (yellow)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC:
54’ Mekeil Williams (yellow)
90’ + 2 Albert Dikwa (yellow)
103′ Russell Cicerone (yellow)
Referee: Elijio Arreguin