LouCity rallies to take a point in draw with Bethlehem Steel FC
Louisville City FC trailed twice Friday night but equalized on both occasions to take away a point from its matchup with Bethlehem Steel FC at Slugger Field.
Kyle Smith converted a penalty kick in the 55th minute before Oscar Jimenez drove home a free kick in the 76th, resulting in a 2-2 draw in LouCity's first-ever Friday night home game.
A crowd of 8,303 nearly saw the boys in black — wearing their third kits — clinch another playoff berth. A win would have done it, but it's possible other results around the league will solidify LouCity's standing this weekend.
"I'm incredibly proud of the players and football club," said coach James O'Connor. "I think when you look at the supporters tonight and the players, I think they gave maximum effort. I think they really did, especially second half. I thought we threw everything at them."
Bethlehem scored a penalty of its own after goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh clipped attacker Saint Moar in the box. Ranjitsingh made the save in the 61st minute, but Moar finished the rebound.
Fifteen minutes later, LouCity drew even to remain unbeaten in three games and extend its lead in the USL Eastern Conference to four points over the Charlotte Independence.
"It's a little disappointing to drop points at home," Smith said, "but at the same time, we were down 1-0. We were down 2-1. So to come back we showed great resilience. Coming out with a tie wasn't the worst possible thing that could have happened. It was a rollercoaster.
"...We've just got to move on, and get a good week of practice in. We have another game Wednesday, so yeah, just move on."
Halftime changes saw midfielders Richard Ballard and Brian Ownby immediately add to the attack. Despite trailing 1-0 at the break, LouCity went on to out-shoot the visitors 20-10 and limited Bethlehem to just three looks on goal.
Smith's goal marked the second in as many games and came after forward Luke Spencer was taken down in the box. Jimenez, who plays opposite Smith on the left wing, elected to take his free kick around rather than over a wall of defenders for his third goal of the season.
LouCity had its chances to take all three points, as Ballard was denied on a nice attempt at the near post in the 65th minute. Immediately following his goal, Jimenez took another shot on frame in transition in the 79th stopped by Steel FC's goalkeeper.
"Definitely frustrated just because I thought we battled there in the second half," Jimenez said. "I thought we could've pushed for a third. Things just didn't fall. but the guys worked really hard, and I'm proud of everybody. We all left it all out there, so we can't fault anyone there."
Between the posts for Bethlehem, Jakes McGuire totaled six saves, enough to keep his side level and force LouCity's first draw in 11 games dating back to a 1-1 away result July 8 against the Charleston Battery.