EM Dash Photography
Louisville City FC didn’t come away with the desired three points Sunday, but the 4,850 on hand for Lynn Family Stadium’s debut still experienced the moment.
In front of what’s believed to be the largest crowd at a team sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic shut leagues down, LouCity midfielder Devon “Speedy” Williams scuffed in the first goal in stadium history, sending the physically distanced, purple-clad fans into a frenzy.
Visiting Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC registered a trio of unanswered goals in a 3-1 victory, however, spoiling the Lynn Family Stadium opening day fairytale up against an effort LouCity coach and sporting director John Hackworth said “just wasn’t good enough.”
“Once we got up a goal, we should have been established and more in control of the game,” Hackworth said. “We did the opposite. We had turnover after turnover. We played very direct at that point, and consequently we were tired from defending so much.
“One part I know we can fix is, when that happened, we have to have some resolve. We have to have an answer.”
Sunday’s contest marked a USL playoffs rematch with LouCity, who defeated Pittsburgh in the 2019 postseason. The Hounds, meanwhile, had won the Eastern Conference’s regular-season crown. An ESPN/Deportes and SiriusXM FC national audience turned into the encore.
To boot, LouCity was granted government approval to host games at 50% capacity given temperature checks would be taken for patrons, masks were worn while maneuvering the concourse and distance was kept. Under facility operator ASM Global’s Venue Shield plan, capacity was closer to 30% of Lynn Family Stadium’s 15,304 maximum.
“It felt good,” Williams said of his goal. “It’s a historic moment, and I’m glad I was the one who scored that goal.
“…It was unreal to be honest,” Williams added of the environment. “It felt like a real professional game. Everything just felt right. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the win.”
Williams’ conversion was a deserving one when he initially put the boys in purple out front. Thanks to consistent service on the left side from midfielder Brian Ownby, LouCity already had a close look at goal when a 13th-minute ball was left for Corben Bone at the center of the box.
Five minutes later, Ownby had a cross deflected, Bone redirected with a header and Williams stepped up, grounding his shot through traffic and into the back of the net.
The lead didn’t quite make it into the locker room as, in the 45th minute, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Dover slipped past LouCity’s back line and accepted a lob from the star midfielder Kenardo Forbes. He beat the keeper one on one.
Defensive lapses by LouCity led to the game’s other two goals. Just 30 seconds into the second half, midfielder Robbie Merz, moving quickly to his left, deftly shifted a shot to the opposite post right to score. And in the 51st minute, midfielder Anthony Velarde tapped in a teammate’s cross after the boys in purple turned over possession deep in their own half.
LouCity ultimately out-shot Pittsburgh 11-6, but the flurry of shots came before Pittsburgh put itself on the board.
The Riverhounds were one of three remaining opponents on the 2020 schedule not from the USL Championship’s Group E consisting of Indy Eleven, Saint Louis FC and Sporting KC. A pair of clubs from each group move on to the playoffs after completing a 16-game result season.
“The nice thing is Pittsburgh wasn’t in our group, so we get to start over with Saint Louis — try to take some points off of them because in the end, two teams come out of our group and there’s four teams,” Ownby said, with LouCity back home at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“Our mindset is now Saint Louis and trying to take some away from them…. I think [after a] long layoff, the legs are heavy, but in the end that can’t be an excuse, so we need to have that will and that fight out there. And I didn’t think we showed it in the last 30, so I think this week that is what we need to just focus on – the mentality part.”
Match: Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Date: July 12, 2020
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 5 p.m.
Weather: 82 degrees, Partly cloudy
Man of the Match: Devon “Speedy” Williams
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (1, 2, 3)
Louisville City FC (1, 0, 1)
Louisville City: 18’ Devon Williams — right footed shot, outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Corben Bone’s header.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 45’ Jordan Dover — right-footed shot, center of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kenardo Forbes. 46’ Robbie Mertz — left-footed shot from outside the box to the bottom-right corner. Assisted by Ropapa Mensah. 51’ Anthony Velarde — left-footed shot from the center of the box to the high center of the goal. Assisted by Ropapa Mensah.
Stats Summary: LouCity / Pittsburgh
Shots: 11 / 6
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 9 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 17
Offside: 1 / 2
Louisville City FC: 39- Ben Lundt, 8- Akil Watts, 3- Alexis Souahy, 5- Jimmy Ockford (55’ 9- Luke Spencer), 19 Oscar Jimenez, 36- Paolo Del Piccolo (55’ 27- Napo Matsoso), 80- Devon Williams, 13- Corben Bone (64’ 11- Niall McCabe), 14- Abdou Thiam (64’ 29- Antoine Hoppenot), 10- Brian Ownby (83’ 42- Jonathan Gomez), 17- Cameron Lancaster
Subs not used: 1- Chris Hubbard, 4- Sean Totsch
Head Coach: John Hackworth
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 18- Tomas Gomez, 22- Hunter Ashworth (66’ 12- Danny Griffin), 34- Skylar Thomas, 17- Thomas Vancaeyezeele, 7- Ryan James, 5- Jordan Dover, 11- Kenardo Forbes, 14- Robbie Mertz, 4- Dani Rovira (63’ 8-Dakota Barnathan), 15- Anthony Velarde (90+4 33- Lukas Fernandes), 3- Ropapa Mensah (66’ 16- Mark Forrest)
Subs not used: 1- Danny Vitiello, 24- Anthony Mwembia, 6- Xhelil Asani
Head Coach: Bob Lilley
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 27’ 22-Hunter Ashworth, yellow card. 89’ 8-Dakota Barnathan, yellow card.