Match Recap: Louisville City vs Saint Louis FC - 10/17/2020 - 2020 Playoffs
A trip to the conference finals already makes a match important, but the stakes are further raised when it’s a rivalry matchup. What made the storyline of the Louisville City vs Saint Louis FC match even more intense was the fact that Cinderella STL side was literally playing for their own existence. In four previous meetings in the wild 2020 season, Lou City had earned a record of 2-1-1. One of the Lou City wins was a bit of a blowout, but the other three matches were all very close affairs. Now in the playoffs, it all came down to one more match in Lynn Family Stadium; The final Kings’ Cup.
The starting eleven selected by Coach Hackworth and staff was identical to last week’s lineup against Pittsburgh. The bench was very similar, except for Niall McCabe’s name appearing on the list for the first time in several months in place of Jason Johnson. Glad to see him available again for action.
The match did not take long after kickoff for the drama to begin. At 11’, Sean Totsch took down an escaping Tyler Blackwood inside the box for the first penalty kick against the home side at Lynn Family Stadium. After a nice flick of the ball by Kyle Greig to Blackwood around Alexis Souahy, no one was between Blackwood and Ben Lundt. They forced Totsch to attempt the tough challenge. STL’s Wal Fall lined up for the PK, which was pounced on by Lundt. A very tense moment for Morados, but Ben “The Berlin Wall” Lundt came up BIG for the team. It was City’s turn to be the aggressor at 18’. Oscar Jimenez dished the ball out to Antoine Hoppenot, who made a nice break around a defender and sent a cross in to the far post. Cameron Lancaster chested the ball down and sent it into the goal before it could hit the ground. A beautiful team effort put the good guys up 1-0. At 26’, Saint Louis got another crack at goal with a right footed shot from Russell Cicerone, which was saved by Lundt. Only a minute later, it was City looking for goal number two. Hoppenot took a shot on goal, which was stopped by STL’s keeper but not secured. Pat McMahon sent the loose ball back at the net but was too high. Corben Bone found a clear shot on goal at 39’ but the keeper stopped and secure the ball. The first half concluded with a sequence of corner kicks from Saint Louis, which resulted in a few very close calls but no goals for the visitors. Louisville went into the locker with a narrow lead.
Early in the second half, Lundt came up big again for his side. At 55’ and 58’, Lundt blocked the shots of Todd Wharton and Paris Gee. Shortly after, Saint Louis made the first subs of the night with Lou City also following suit. Brian Ownby, who had a quiet night, was relieved by Napo Matsoso. Wes Charpie relieved McMahon. At 69’, Saint Louis made some more adjustments followed by Luke Spencer replacing Cam at 74’. Louisville City secured their trip to the Eastern Conference Finals on a sequence at 82’. A free kick right outside of the box near the corner was sent to the far post to Luke Spencer. Saint Louis’s Tobi Adewole was able to box Luke out, however, Luke’s pressure and fight for the ball sent Adewole’s header into his own net. They have listed goal number two as an own goal, but it was Luke Spencer’s effort that made it happen. Now up 2-0, Souahy’s night ended and Jimmy Ockford took his place. Lou City only had to weather the storm of a desperate, STL side for just a few minutes. The closest call in the dying minutes of the game occurred at 86’, when a shot on goal was not secured by Lundt. The ball rolled towards the net by Oscar jumped into action and with a heroic effort, sent the ball into the stands right before it could make it to the goal. Had he been half a second slower, it would have been a goal.
Saint Louis has had ups and downs during their 2020 campaign, but during this match they left it all out on the pitch. They fought like hell and did not give Lou City anything. City did narrowly win the possession battle, however it was STL who accumulated the most shots. That is a statistic that Louisville has won for most of the season. Saint Louis let 17 shots loose with ten on target. They also created more chances than City. If it were not for the valiant effort of the Man of the Match, Ben Lundt, it could have been a different outcome. With the stakes at the highest they have been all season, Lundt stepped up. Lundt earned a player rating of 8.9 after making ten saves. The left side of the Lou City squad also had a good night. Oscar earned a player rating of 7.8 and Hoppenot had a player rating of 7.6 with one assist and the most chances created in the match (three).
While City fans had reason for celebration, many couldn’t help but sympathize with the fans of Saint Louis FC. Now eliminated from the playoffs, their club would fold for good. Their club ended the same way it started; with a 2-0 loss in Louisville. Although they will have soccer in their city again, this is not how anyone wanted things to happen. My deepest condolences go out to the Saint Louis FC fan base.
The Eastern Conference Finals will see the Tampa Bay Rowdies making the trip north to Lynn Family Stadium. FiveThirtyEight is giving the edge to Morados, however, this is an unfamiliar opponent who cannot be taken lightly. Excited to see City’s playoff run continue! Hope to see you all at the match on Saturday! Vamos Mordaos!