Louisville City FC ended its season Sunday having lifted a trophy this year — but not the trophy the boys in purple set out to raise.
The Eastern Conference champions fell by a 3-1 score in the USL Championship Final against San Antonio FC, with Brian Ownby’s 78th-minute goal the only answer to the hosts’ potent counter-attacking style.
A dominant side during a record-breaking regular season, LouCity faced a number of injury obstacles down the stretch. Golden Glove winner Kyle Morton was unavailable for the playoffs, and City got less than 90 minutes in the final from a trio of its top offensive threats: Ownby, Wilson Harris and Cameron Lancaster.
Still, the boys in purple managed to defeat Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the conference semifinal and the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the conference final. The club now holds two league crowns (2017-2018) and four Eastern Conference titles (2017-2019, 2022).
“Congratulations to San Antonio. They do what they do very, very well,” said LouCity coach Danny Cruz. “We had a lot of guys struggling physically, which dictated a little bit of our shape on the night.
“…I’m extremely proud of this group of men and what they’ve done this season. The support tonight from our fans was incredible given the distance to travel. Obviously really disappointed but still a very proud manager with what this group accomplished this year.”
A third star over the crest will have to wait at least until next year, and the outlook was bleak for LouCity from the start. In just the second minute, San Antonio earned a penalty try when goalkeeper Danny Faundez tripped up Santiago Patiño at the edge of the box.
In a stroke of good luck for LouCity, Mitchell Taintor pulled the ensuing penalty wide. However, fortunes turned seconds before the halftime whistle when a header in the box glanced off Wes Charpie’s hand and let to another penalty kick. This time, Patiño converted, giving San Antonio a lead it held for good.
Samuel Adeniran skied for a headed goal in the 64th minute, and Patiño converted again in the 70th minute on a rampant San Antonio counter. Ownby — brought on for the second half — caught the opposing keeper off his line to cut into the deficit late, but the comeback ended there.
“There’s a ton of disappointment over here with us,” said LouCity team captain Paolo DelPiccolo. “I said before the game we’d have to impose our style a little bit to win the game, and I don’t feel like we did that at all. We played their style of soccer and not ours. When that happens, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to come out on top.
“I think maybe in a month or, my case, probably 10 years I’ll look back and be proud of it. But for now, it’s a lot of disappointment and frustration.”
Established in 2016, San Antonio made this both its first USL Championship Final appearance and victory. The club is operated by the same ownership group as the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. A capacity crowd of more than 8,000 attempted Sunday’s game.
Game Summary: San Antonio FC vs. Louisville City FC
Date: Nov. 13, 2022
Venue: Toyota Field
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.
Weather: 51 degrees, clear
San Antonio FC (1, 2, 3)
Louisville City FC (0, 1, 1)
San Antonio FC:
45’+3 Santiago Patiño
64’ Samuel Adeniran (Mitchell Taintor)
70’ Santiago Patiño (Mohammed Abu)
Louisville City FC:
78’ Brian Ownby
San Antonio FC: 1 — Jordan Farr, 22 — Shannon Gomez, 3 — Mitchell Taintor, 4 — Fabien Garcia, 2 — Carter Manley, 19 — Cristian Parano (84’ 11 — Justin Dhillon), 5 — Jordy Delem, 25 — Mohammed Abu, 31 — Connor Maloney, 14 — Samuel Adeniran (76’ 20 — Ignacio Bailone), 9 — Santiago Patiño (90’+ 18 — Elliot Collier)
Subs not used: 00 — Grant Makela, 10 — David Loera, 27 — Jack Lynn, 32 — Alasanne Ates Diouf
Head coach: Alen Marcina
Louisville City FC: 18 — Danny Faundez, 6 — Wes Charpie, 4 — Sean Totsch, 66 — Josh Wynder (46’ 10 — Brian Ownby), 3 — Amadou Dia, 12 — Tyler Gibson (66’ 8 — Carlos Moguel Jr.), 36 — Paolo DelPiccolo (66’ 23 — Elijah Wynder), 21 — Ray Serrano (78’ 7 — Napo Matsoso), 15 — Manny Perez, 77 — Enoch Mushagalusa, 17 — Cameron Lancaster (66’ 14 — Wilson Harris)
Subs not used: 24 — Parker Siegfried, 19 — Oscar Jimenez
Head coach: Danny Cruz
Stats Summary: San Antonio FC / Louisville City FC
Shots: 13 / 7
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Possession: 35.2% / 64.8%
Fouls: 16 / 14
Offside: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 5 / 4
San Antonio FC:
48’ Fabien Garcia (yellow)
62’ Jordy Delem (yellow)
Louisville City FC:
44’ Cameron Lancaster (yellow)
46’ Danny Cruz (yellow)
61’ Danny Faundez (yellow)
80’ Enoch Mushagalusa (yellow)
Referee: Lukasz Szpala