Lynn Family Stadium played host to Louisville City’s first-ever international friendly as FC Kaiserslautern came stateside to begin their preseason in preparation for the upcoming 2. Bundesliga campaign. The storied German club brought the likes of U.S. international Terrence Boyd and 2014 World Cup winner Erik Durm to take on the boys in purple. LouCity was coming off a hard-fought draw in Phoenix and used the match as an opportunity to provide minutes to a variety of players. Manny Perez and Niall McCabe got some valuable game time as they both return from injury along with a slew of academy players making debuts including Jack Travis, Gio Chavez, Jabari Rasheed, and Dakota Hart.
Matiti Mushagalusa was the first to find the back of the net with a strike from the edge of the box at the 14’ mark. Following a torrential downpour at 27’, FCK’s Terrence Boyd clawed one back for the Germans with a rather unique header mere inches off the ground. Boyd would go on a breakaway and chip GK Danny Faundez at 41’ to put the visitors ahead 2-1; a scoreline that would hold for the remainder of the match.
14' – Mushagalusa
Given this was just a friendly, the result is not all that important. With that said, this was still a meaningful match. Beyond the financial benefits of working another match into the schedule, it offered the team the opportunity to experiment a bit and get various players on the pitch. The starting eleven featured a number of guys who have intermittently played throughout the regular season. Matiti, who hadn’t found the back of the net since the season opener in OC back in March, found himself a confidence-boosting goal. Given the attacking woes, any positive momentum on that front will fall in the plus column. As previously mentioned, Perez and McCabe got valuable minutes under their belts. Manny wasn’t sidelined too long, but Niall had not seen the pitch since the win at Monterey Bay. The academy debuts were a treat for the home fans. Four local kids got to play professional ball in front of 7,000+ at one of the top stadiums in the league (if not the country). The four got to play alongside Colin Elder (who debuted earlier this season), Owen Damm (whose home debut was earlier this month), and Carlos Moguel. That is seven total academy kids on the pitch!
This historic first was an exciting chance for fans to see a unique opponent. FCK boasts an ex-USMNT player, a World Cup winner, and a contingent of passionate Kaiserslautern supporters. Located in close proximity to the Ramstein Air Base, FCK maintains a solid American following. The Kaiserslautern military community consists of more than 50,000 people and is the largest U.S. military community outside of the country. Given Louisville’s proximity to Fort Knox, it was a natural fit for the club. Local military personnel who spent time in German were able to the club of their temporary home in Europe. They brought a distinctly European flair to their section with banners and post-match singing to applaud their beloved FCK.
It was a nice reprieve to enjoy a LouCity match free from the stresses of a league table and featuring an exotic opponent. This was a milestone for the club and, hopefully, one of many. It was an opportunity to showcase our city and sporting setup. “I thought it was a tough opponent,” FCK’s Terrence Boyd said. “We didn’t know what to expect. I told the guys, there are guys here who can play ball in the U.S. They might not have the biggest names, but they can ball. They showed it, not just from a technical standpoint but the way Danny Cruz is letting his players play from a tactical view, it’s comparable to Germany — German football.” Heartwarming praise to receive from an experience European player. It was a reminder of what a cool thing we've going here in town. I was able to step back from the intricacies of the match and enjoy what we have. Who would have thought 10+ years back we would have a quality team playing a foreign opponent at a soccer-specific stadium? It’s been a fun ride watching the club grow and succeed.
The friendly was ultimately a success. Here is to hosting many more! Now, let's get back to the regular season and earn some trophies!
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