Louisville City FC Tops Saint Louis FC in Maiden Match

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When Louisville City FC hosted Saint Louis FC at Slugger Field on Saturday, soccer supporters in Louisville had several reasons to celebrate. Although the birth of USL expansion franchise had been announced months ago, the first kick marked the culmination of efforts and the realization of dreams to bring professional soccer to Derby City. A 2-0 victory in a nascent rivalry against Saint Louis was just the icing on the cake.

Louisville City FC owner Wayne Estopinal was thrilled with the turnout, the atmosphere, and the outcome.

“I couldn’t be happier. I think the team played really well. The fans, I think they saw a style of play that they are really going to appreciate. James has got a style that’s very attacking, very entertaining, but also hard to defend. I think we’ve got a really nice start here.” said Estopinal, “Everybody on the staff, everybody on the coaching staff and on the office staff, they’ve all busted their tails, and it was great to see them all get this kind of payoff. Six thousand people and a shutout.”

The Action

It took several minutes for the two sides to settle into a flow, but once they did their intentions became evident. Saint Louis worked the ball methodically up the pitch with connecting passes through the midfield, while Louisville wanted to play a more direct style. Saint Louis looked to be the more dangerous team for large stretches of the first half, but it was Louisville City that took a one-goal lead into the locker room.

Magnus Rasmussen was the man to score the first USL goal for LCFC, becoming the answer to a trivia question that is sure to be asked in the years to come. It came midway through the first half. Rasmussen collected a long ball sent forward by Juan Guzman and easily beat the only Saint Louis defender within miles of the ball. Alone against the STLFC goalkeeper Mark Pais, Rasmussen calmly slotted the ball into the lower left of the net.

In the second half, the pitch seemed a little more tilted in favor of the home team. On multiple occasions Saint Louis turned the ball over in their own half of the pitch. The turnovers, coupled with some sloppy defending, created multiple chances for Louisville City.

Charlie Adams made the most of one of those chances in the 67th minute. Guy Abend received the ball in the middle of the box, drawing the attention of several STLFC defenders. A nifty backheel layoff from Abend found Adams unmarked at the top of the box. Adams rifled a shot past a helpless Pais, creating a 2-0 lead that would last until the final whistle.

DSC_0534Adams was deservedly named man of the match by the Louisville City fans. Not only did the second-half substitute provide the electrifying goal, he demonstrated competency on the ball, he handled corner kick duties, and he was a pesky defender in the midfield.

I had named Louisville City as a dark horse to challenge for the top spot in the USL Eastern Conference. I saw nothing today to change my mind. Scoring threats are emerging apart from Matt Fondy, and the defense performed well enough to keep a clean sheet.

As for Saint Louis FC, the club appears to have a solid base on which to build. James Musa could prove to be an all-league center back. They moved the ball well, especially in the first half. What is really needed is quality in the final third, particularly the ability to finish.

Dale Schilly, head coach for Saint Louis, pointed out that he wasn’t happy with the result but wasn’t entirely dissatisfied with his clubs performance.

“The results are one thing, but for us, we’ve got to keep getting better every day.” Schilly said, “In order to do that we have to see what we saw today, a team that tries to move the ball. On the ball, I thought we were pretty good. I thought the first half we’d done a pretty good job. We created a couple of chances in the second half. Just missing a little bit of quality when we get into the final third of the field, but overall I wasn’t that displeased.”

Soccer in a Baseball Stadium

DSC_0451The fact that this was a soccer match taking place in a baseball stadium could not be escaped. The juxtaposition of the two sports was everywhere: goals and foul polls, touch lines and base paths, bullpens and technical areas, etc. The question was whether or not the surface would be playable.

A lot of work had to be performed by the grounds crew in order to get Slugger Field ready for a soccer match. The pitcher’s mound had to be removed, the dirt had to be covered with turf, and the field had to be lined. The result was a narrow pitch with seams between grass and turf.

With all of that in mind, the transformation was a success. The players did not appear to have a problem with footing, and the ball rolled true across the seems in the surface. No complaints were heard from players or staff from either team about the quality of the pitch.

Fantastic Turnout and Support

A crowd of 6,067 spectators turned out for the first professional soccer match in Louisville. It was an impressive showing for a cold day in a city known more for college basketball than soccer. If that kind of attendance can be maintained, Louisville City FC will thrive in USL.

Much of the atmosphere in the stadium was supplied by the supporters sections, both home and away. The Louisville Coopers, who should be partially credited with the arrival of pro soccer in Louisville, filled the arena with songs and purple smoke. Not to be outdone, an army of St Louligans made the trip with tifo and drums.

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15 thoughts on “Louisville City FC Tops Saint Louis FC in Maiden Match

  1. Good article, and on the whole a fair assessment of the day. The only point I would argue was about the condition of the field. The mix of turf and grass was ridiculous, and at least three times I saw players go down coming from the grass and hitting the turf. We were hearing concerns about on the bus ride down from St. Louis, and I think they were justified. I won’t be so ridiculous assess guess to claim that the pitch determined the outcome of the game, but I think we were lucky to see no one injured. Honestly, I’m surprised that the league would allow the mixed surface, when sod could just as easily be laid over the infield dirt.

    • First, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Second, I completely missed the slipping. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, just that I didn’t witness it. I appreciate that you brought it to my attention. There are at least two other teams in the league playing in a baseball stadium. I’ll do some digging to find out how they’re handling the surface.

  2. The announcers on the YouTube feed noted the slips and even discussed whether there might be an advantage in defending that end of the pitch because of the apparent loss of footing that it appeared some attackers had as they transitioned onto the covered infield surface.

    • I may have been walking between the field and the press box or looking down to take notes during the slips. Unfortunate coincidence for me.

      There were just as many goals scored on the half of the field with the covered infield as there were in the other half. I don’t wan’t to seem argumentative, but it’s true.

  3. I will say Mike is right… I saw one or two players go down for each team mainly St. Louis. I get they are not used to it, but we have only had 1 or 2 training sessions on the field ourselves.

    My biggest concern is come baseball season when the grounds crew doesn’t have a week or two to get ready for the next LCFC game… The outfield grass will be loose in spots from BP, practice, and games and the infield turf or whatever will be awful come that time.

    BTW the Louligans were VERY impressive. Hats off to you guys. You guys were loud and I was annoyed the whole game. Supporter clubs will definitely have to learn a few things from you guys.

    • Yes. The Louligans were impressive indeed. From the moment they began marching to their seats until the final whistle, their presence was felt. They were loud and well organized.

      None of this means that I wasn’t impressed by the Coopers as well.

      • Well… We just need a little more organization which will come with time. Love our guys though.

        So what’s the next stop for you?

        I honestly cant wait to head over to St. Louis for round 2. That will be a great atmosphere because what I heard from talking to one of the Louligan guys at ATG the numbers of them that were there Saturday were not even half of their group…

  4. Do you know if there are plans for LCFC to share a facility with the University of Louisville once its soccer stadium is built? I’m a neutral observer and haven’t followed it closely.

    • I don’t know what the plans are regarding a soccer specific stadium for LCFC. I do know that UofL just recently constructed a marvelous facility, so I don’t believe sharing a facility is in the works. I believe that Wayne Estopinal, owner of LCFC, was one of the architects of the UofL project.

  5. Please come to St. Louis in May, we’d love to see you guys show up in decent numbers! We actually discussed that on the way home…how we hoped that maybe we inspired some folks to join the Coopers and have some fun!

    And yes, the group that came to Louisville was only a portion of overall SG. I think we’ve filled two sections completely and a third partway for our home opener.

    • Not to take away from what we did on Saturday or anything as far as crowd goes, but we were actually a little surprised at how many we had join in with us… That whole section was ours, but we had kids from UofL and HS’s alike come out and yell with us.

  6. The fact that The Coopers get any credit for the atmosphere in this article is a joke. If the Louligans were not there, the game would have sounded more like a golf tournament than a soccer match. Louisville got the points, but St. Louis showed the Coopers what it means to be a supporter.

    • Wow. You might want to save the grandstanding for the actual grandstands.

      Were the Louligans louder and more organized than the Coopers? Yes. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Coopers didn’t turn out with good numbers and make some noise in support of the home side. I was on the field and in the press box. I could hear both groups.

      See, this is one thing I don’t get about supporter culture. It should be about “my club is better than your club.” Comments like yours make it about “my support is better than your support.”

      I applaud everything I saw and heard from the Louligans on Saturday. Like I wrote elsewhere, even as a neutral member of the media I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated as you marched into the stadium. It was impressive. None of that, however, means you are more devoted to your team than the Coopers are to theirs.

      • Chad, you don’t understand how smack talking works. This is what supporters sections do. We talk smack. The pride supporters have doesn’t and shouldn’t rely entirely on what happens on the field. We are about creating creating a GAME EXPERIENCE. The St. Louligans did that. Without the Louligans at that game, the article would be talking bout how bland and quiet the crowd was.

        Does that mean I dislike the Louisville supporters? No. We hung out with them and traded our insults while sharing beers. The Louligans gave the Coopers schtick for their silence, they gave us schtick for the scoreline. I’m sorry you don’t understand banter. Come hang out in St. Louis. We can teach you all about it.

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