For the eighth consecutive year — every season of its existence — Louisville City FC is back in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference Final. A win would give the boys in purple the chance to claim a third championship trophy following back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.
To get there, LouCity first must go through a familiar foe, hosting the Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium. This marks the third straight year City and Tampa Bay have met in the Eastern Conference Final, and the hosts hope the third time is a charm after the Rowdies took the past two meetings.
City survived and advanced to this point in the playoffs thanks to a furious rally last weekend, topping Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in a penalty shootout after coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation. Reserve goalkeeper Danny Faundez made a key stop in the shootout, and midfielder Carlos Moguel Jr. converted the game-winning penalty.
Tampa Bay edged host Memphis 901 FC, 1-0, with a Leo Fernandes penalty in the ninth minute of stoppage time in last weekend’s other Eastern Conference semifinal. The Rowdies are chasing a different outcome in this year’s USL Championship Playoffs as well after the 2020 final was canceled due to a COVID-19 breakout before Tampa Bay lost the 2021 edition.
- The game will air live locally on WBKI 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.
- Jorge Gonzalez (Out)
- Cameron Lancaster (Questionable)
- Niall McCabe (Out)
- Kyle Morton (Out)
- Brian Ownby (Questionable)
- Manny Perez (Questionable)
- Ian Soler (Out)
What’re the odds: FiveThirtyEight.com projects a LouCity win on Saturday, with the statistical analysis website giving the boys in purple a 60% chance of advancing to the USL Championship Final. With the playoffs down to a final four of teams, FiveThirtyEight also gives City a 30% chance to win the final, the second-best number behind Western Conference top seed San Antonio FC.
Up next: With a win Saturday, the boys in purple will have to do some waiting given Sunday evening’s Western Conference Final will determine the Nov. 13 USL Championship Final’s site. San Antonio would host with a victory, while Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC would travel to Lynn Family Stadium. Home sides in the playoffs are determined by number of points earned during the regular season.
Know the foe: Tampa Bay went 20-7-7 in the regular season, posting an 8-5-4 mark away from home. This is the third meeting this year between the teams, with both squads claiming 1-0 wins at home. City topped Tampa Bay on Aug. 13 in front of a club-record crowd at Lynn Family Stadium, with Wilson Harris scoring the game-winning goal.
Conference consistency: LouCity’s national semifinal appearance streak coincides with creation of the Eastern and Western conference in 2015. City has made the most conference final showings by a wide margin, with its eight games well ahead of a handful of teams across the league to have appeared in three such contests.
Comeback City: Saturday marked LouCity’s first rallying win from a 2-0 deficit since Oct. 12, 2019, when the boys in purple surged to an 8-3 win over Sporting Kansas City II in their final regular season game at Louisville Slugger Field.
Power of PKs: The win against Pittsburgh was the third shootout victory of the season for LouCity. The boys in purple beat both St. Louis City SC and Detroit City FC in penalties last spring as part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Home turf: LouCity owns an impressive 14-2-2 home record this year, boasting a plus-24 goal differential. The club has only lost four times in 29 league home games since June 2021, when capacity limits were lifted amid the pandemic.
Homegrown talent: Along with Moguel Jr., two other LouCity Academy grads contributed to last Saturday’s win: brothers Elijah and Josh Wynder. The midfielder Elijah drew a foul leading to Cameron Lancaster’s game-tying penalty in the 85th minute. Josh, a defender, played all 120 minutes and converted his shot in the penalty shootout.
All-League: Sean Totsch and Kyle Morton picked up USL Championship All-League honors this week, with Totsch named to the first team for a third straight year and Morton on the second team. Totsch was also a finalist for Defender of the Year, while Morton was a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year. Josh Wynder is in the running for Young Player of the Year. Winners will be announced next week.