Louisville City FC Defeats Phoenix Rising FC in 2018 USL Cup Final
Louisville City FC claimed the 2018 USL Cup for the second straight year after defeating Phoenix Rising FC on Thursday night. Luke Spencer scored the lone goal of the match during the second half in front of a sellout crowd of 7,025 fans.
USL Soccer News: Louisville City FC claimed the 2018 United Soccer League (USL) Championship following a 1-0 victory against Phoenix Rising FC on Thursday night at Lynn Stadium in Kentucky. Luke Spencer’s tally in the second half led the hosts to back-to-back USL titles.
Didier Drogba recorded the first shot on target in the fifth minute of play. Drogba struck a free kick from 45 yards out that was cleared to safety by Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh.
The first attempt for Louisville City FC came four minutes later when captain Paolo DelPiccolo controlled a low, driven cross in the penalty area but couldn’t get enough power behind his left-footed strike.
Phoenix produced the best opportunity of the first half in the 24th minute when midfielder Jason Johnson carried the ball down the left flank and fired a shot from 25 yards out. Johnson’s shot took a deflection off Louisville defender Paco Craig and Ranjitsingh reacted quickly to deny the effort.
In the 50th minute, Louisville’s Brian Ownby had a great chance to open the scoring after Rising FC defender Saad Abdul-Salaam misjudged a cross from Kyle Smith. Ownby chested down the cross and struck a volley high and wide of the left post.
The home side finally found the back of the net two minutes after the hour-mark. A corner kick to the far post was headed back across goal with two attempts successfully rejected by Phoenix. The ball landed at Spencer’s feet who fired it past Woszczynski for his second goal of the playoffs.
Phoenix pressed for an equalizer and created two quality opportunities to level the match. Solomon Asante’s cross from the right flank found Johnson near the penalty spot in the 75th minute, but the winger directed his header just wide. Two minutes later, Abdul-Salaam’s low cross found Billy Forbes in the center of the box, but the second-half substitute’s effort was sent over the frame of the goal.
The final whistle blew moments after Drogba headed one last attempt wide off a 92nd-minute corner kick. Louisville City FC celebrated its second straight USL title in front of its home supporters.
Louisville City FC head coach John Hackworth praised his players for their patience and effort throughout the season. After former head coach James O’Connor left for an MLS job in early August, Hackworth was appointed and led the club to a 12-4-2 record.
“We had a couple of moments where it was testy, but credit to them because they wanted to be pushed,” said Hackworth. “They wanted to be coached. Every time we challenged them they said what more. It’s just fantastic. Storybook, fairy-tale, it’s just fantastic.”
Photo Credit: USL Soccer