LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After claiming the Eastern Conference Championship last week, it all comes down to one final match for Louisville City FC.
At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Louisville City FC will welcome Phoenix Rising FC for the 2018 USL Cup. The match will be held at Lynn Stadium at the University of Louisville, and tickets are already sold out. The game also will be broadcast on ESPN2.
For LouCity, it’s been a season filled with a great run in the US Open Cup, a new coach in John Hackworth, and an incredible run of form heading into the playoffs. With Friday night’s 5-1 win over New York Red Bulls II, the Boys in Purple are on a 10-match unbeaten streak. Brian Ownby has been leading from the front with three goals and two assists in the playoffs, and Oscar Jimenez continues to make life difficult for defenders with three assists.
A big question for Louisville City is the status of Golden Boot winner Cameron Lancaster. Lancaster, who led the USL regular season in goals with 25, went down early in the Eastern Conference Final with an apparent leg injury. The team has yet to rule Lancaster out for the match, and there is a possibility he could still suit up for the final.
With six different players scoring goals in the playoffs, Louisville City has shown it is a group built with a team-first approach. If Lancaster doesn’t play, Luke Spencer likely would get the start up top for Louisville City.
From the Western Conference, Phoenix Rising FC had never won a playoff match before this season, and they have fought their way to the USL Cup final. To get here, they had to go on the road and beat Orange County SC 2-1 to become the Western Conference Champions.
They are led by former Chelsea player Didier Drogba, who is also one of the club’s owners. Drogba is set to retire from professional soccer at the conclusion of the USL season, which makes this match even more special for fans of the sport. He is a legend in the world of football, having won the Champions League with Chelsea along with many other trophies throughout his career. At 40, Drogba may not have the speed he once did, but his strength on the ball and passing skills are still there. Louisville City will need to limit his time on the ball and not give him free-kick opportunities.
Despite all the talk about Drogba, Phoenix is hardly a one-man show. Solomon Asante is another important aspect to their attack, and with his speed can blow by defenders. He is an all-around attacking player who can score and create chances for his teammates. Forward Chris Cortez was on the receiving end of these passes throughout the season, and he finished the regular season with 19 goals.
Louisville City is attempting to become the first ever back-to-back champions in USL history.
Newly re-elected Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday declared Thursday as Wear Purple And Gold Day in support of LouCity FC: