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Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday played host to a 50% restricted capacity crowd of 7,652 that made itself heard as Louisville City FC played visiting Birmingham Legion FC to a 1-1 draw.
In the first game under interim coach Danny Cruz’s leadership, LouCity struck early when Pat McMahon headed in a third-minute corner. Birmingham, though, equalized when Neco Brett was awarded a retry at a second half penalty, much to the chagrin of those fans.
The chaos, combined with a slew of breaks in play due to injuries, led to the referee adding 12 minutes past the regular 90. But neither side truly threatened late in a stalemate within the USL Championship’s Central Division.
“Disappointed to not the three points here at home, but I was really proud, I just told the guys, of the collective effort," Cruz said. "I think we created enough opportunities to win the game. I think we’ve got to be a little better in the box.
“That group there is motivated as anybody I have ever been in a locker room with. I think the sound in the locker room right now would speak volumes if you hear it because you could drop a pin. They are going to be ready to get back to work on Monday. I am certainly going to be ready to get back to work tomorrow and try to improve.”
Tracking back, McMahon slid and nicked Brett in the box, triggering the penalty much to the crowd’s chagrin. The stadium reached a fever pitch again moments later goalkeeper Chris Hubbard blocked Brett’s first attempt, then also turned away the ensuing rebounded try.
Officials, however, deemed Hubbard moved off his line early. Brett slotted his ensuing retry in for a goal.
New this season, division foes play each other twice home and away during the league’s 32-game season. The top four advance to the playoffs, with LouCity and Birmingham figuring to be right in that hunt.
That’s even with the recent coaching change at LouCity, which put the 31-year-old Cruz in charge following a victory for the boys in purple back on April 24 to open their campaign. The club had a week off to acclimate and opened quickly.
Working the right side, midfielder Corben Bone drew a foul just outside the box, and his free kick led to a corner. Bone took it from the left side and found McMahon for a header, marking the defender’s first goal since 2019.
“It was a good start by the group, I thought," Bone said. "We were on the front foot."
Despite not finding a game winner, LouCity asserted its attack, numbering 12 shots to Birmingham’s 8, out-passing its opponent 526-363 and tallying 14 corners taken, many of them attempted by rising star defender Jonathan Gomez.
"I’m glad that the coaches are giving me that opportunity," Gomez said. "I’m just trying to help the team as much as I can and take advantage of my opportunity to continue to develop. Ultimately, the main idea is to help the team win.”
With a quirky schedule to open its campaign, LouCity gets another week off before welcoming San Diego Loyal -- one of the few teams on the schedule outside the Central Division -- on May 22. Loyal is co-owned and managed by U.S. Men’s National Team legend Landon Donovan.
Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Birmingham Legion FC
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Weather: 64 degrees, cloudy
Man of the Match: Jonathan Gomez
Louisville City FC (1, 0, 1)
Birmingham Legion FC (0, 1, 1)
Louisville City FC: 3’ Pat McMahon header from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Corben Bone off a corner kick.
Birmingham Legion FC: 60’ Neco Brett converts a retried penalty with a right-footed shot to the right side.
Stats Summary: Louisville City / Birmingham Legion
Shots: 12 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Fouls: 15 / 10
Offside: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 14 / 5
Saves: 1 / 5
Louisville City: 1-Chris Hubbard, 15-Pat McMahon (72’ 11-Niall McCabe), 4-Sean Totsch, 3-Alexis Souahy, 42-Jonathan Gomez, 8-Akil Watts, 13-Corben Bone, 36-Paolo DelPiccolo, 29-Antoine Hoppenot (28’ 10-Brian Ownby), 7-Napo Matsoso, 17-Cameron Lancaster
Subs not used: 16-Simon Lefebvre, 66-Josh Wynder, 20-Jimmy McLaughlin, 12-Tyler Gibson, 22-George Davis lV
Birmingham Legion: 1-Matt VanOekel, 3-Phanuel Kavita, 7-Ryan James, 22-Ben Ofeimu, 24-Jonathan Dean, 5-Mikey Lopez (74’ 12-Eli Crognale), 6-Anderson Asiedu, 8-Bruno Lapa, 10-Prosper Kasim (78’ 13-Jake Rufe), 11-Neco Brett, 17Jaden Servania (90’ 2-Marcos Ugarte)
Subs not used: 18-Trevor Spangenberg, 16-Daigo Kobayashi, 25-Jackson Wrobel
58’ Pat McMahon (yellow card)
60’ Chris Hubbard (yellow card)
61’ Paolo DelPiccolo (yellow card)
75’ Alexis Souahy (yellow card)
90’ Jonathan Gomez (yellow card)
Referee: Joshua Encarnacion
Assistant Referees: Matthew Rodman/Nicholas Balcer
Fourth Official: Nabil Bensalah