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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Match Recap: Louisville City vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 10/24/2020 - 2020 Playoffs

EM Dash Photography

You know the saying; life, death, and Lou City in the Eastern Conference Finals. Every season of their existence they have made an appearance. Even the topsy-turvy 2020 couldn’t keep them out. Some fans may take this for granted, but when you think about it, that is an impressive feat. The 2020 edition of the ECF saw the Tampa Bay Rowdies making the journey to Lynn Family Stadium to duke it out with Morados for a trip to the Finals and the right to host it on ESPN.

Coach Hackworth selected the usual suspects. No surprises there. FotMob had his lineup listed as a 3-5-2, a departure from Hack’s normal 4-3-3. Well, whatever the approach was, it didn’t take the Rowdies long to exploit it. Just 3’ into the match, a cross into the box found the toe of the attacked. He poked the ball right by Ben Lundt to put the bad guys up 1-0 early. It was some not-so-great defending from Alexis Souahy and an uncharacteristic lapse in quality from Lundt that started the night off on a sour note. Louisville City looked to level the match at 5’ but some heroic defending by TBR kept the ball out of the net. About ten minutes later, Lou City had some good offensive possessions and was applying a lot of pressure but could not find a quality shot on goal against the fast Tampa team. The Rowdies made the first sub of the night 30’ in, taking off a player who sustained a bit of a knock. At 39’, Corben Bone dispossessed the opposition and made a fantastic run, breaking away and firing off a nice shot on goal which was parried away by the keeper. At 45’+2, right before the end of the first half, an attacker on the Rowdies made a move past Oscar Jiminez and hit a shot on goal. Lundt was there to stop it, but he did not keep possession. With the ball loose in the box, another attacker seized the moment and rolled it past Lundt for their second of the night. Lundt’s dreadful night had only gotten worse. Not how the team needed to end the half.

Entering the second half, Pat McMahon was subbed out for Napo Matsoso. Not saying it was the wrong call at all, but the defender for attacker swap smelled of desperation. Luck swung in City’s favor at 47’ when a Brian Ownby cross intended for Cam Lancaster hit a Tampa Bay defender and bounced past the keeper to get Morados on the board. Now 2-1, you could see a spark of life come into not only the squad but the fanbase as well. The newfound optimism was nearly squashed just ten minutes later when a dangerous cross made its way through the Lou City box and barely missed connecting with the sliding attacker. At 61’, Luke Spencer entered the fray for Souhay. A few minutes later, more TBR subs were deployed. At 70’, Ownby went down right inside the box on a Tampa challenge. While there were many calls from the Louisville players and fans, the referee made the (unfortunately) correct call not to award. Brian sold it but he wasn’t buying it. Jason Johnson came in for Oscar at 77’ but many had realized that this was likely the end of the season. About 20 minutes later, that became a reality when the Tampa Bay Rowdies were crowned champs of the Eastern Conference.

It was a rough night. The wheels were bound to come off eventually from the magnificent run, but we all hoped that would not occur in the playoffs. No one Lou City player had a performance worth calling out for positive reasons. Several had a poor night in the office. Louisville led in most statistical categories, but unfortunately, those stats don’t win games. They maintained possession and did well passing, but that was because of the squad looking for openings in the Rowdies defense that never came. Conceding an early goal totally changed the game, forcing Louisville City to play TBR’s game. That was a worst-case scenario and one of the few ways I saw us losing. When they play their game how they want it, they are a dominant force. Props to Tampa for cracking the code. They are a tremendous team in their own right, and I wish them the best in the Finals.

I do want to take a moment to recognize Luke Spencer. As you have likely heard by now, that was his last match as a player. Luke has been a fantastic contributor to this team and I wish him all the best. A club legend.

Conner Cunningham Photography

I intentionally put off writing this. Falling short of earning another piece of silverware just plain sucks. As bad as Saturday night went, there are a lot of positives that we can all be thankful for. 2020 has been a hard year for many, and Louisville City was an escape for us all. I wrote a thank you to the club I’d encourage you to read. It’s easy to get negative and play the blame game, but it does no one any good. Let’s be thankful for the brilliant run the boys had this season. It’s on to the offseason now. Stay tuned, I still have many ideas for content during the lull in the action.

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