It's been a busy week for Orlando City SC's USL affiliate, Louisville City FC. Two friendlies have been played, a goalkeeper has been signed, and the excitement continues to build towards the March 28 season opener.
Louisville City Wins One, Draws Another
Louisville City played two friendlies this week against collegiate competition, in the form of the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky. However, the results from the two matches didn't quite match up.
In their second match of the preseason, after defeating Indiana University 3-2, LCFC topped the University of Louisville, 3-0. The Cardinals, who have been a successful and consistently ranked program in the last several years, were totally outclassed by their professional foes last Wednesday night.
The high pressure system which James O'Connor plans to employ all season was in full effect, as the LCFC back line stayed high for most of the game and the attacking players from LCFC were working hard up field, pressuring the Louisville defenders.
"We've heard a lot about the University of Louisville and their soccer team," Matt Fondy said after the match. "We wanted to come out here and show them that there's a professional team around and we've been doing this for a while. We wanted to come out and show them, we wanted to press high, come out strong and get a goal early."
The high line LCFC was playing led to the first goal in the 25th minute. LCFC acquired the ball in its own half and sent a long ball forward to left midfielder Kadeem Dacres, who neatly collected it to send it across the box for Magnus Rasmussen. The Danish midfielder's left-footed finish found the back of the net.
Later on, LCFC's pressure again caused UofL problems, as Rasmussen took the ball off a Louisville midfielder about 30 yards out. He found Matt Fondy for a first-time finish, putting Louisville City two goals up.
Things got chippy in the second half, as Rasmussen made an ugly tackle on Louisville's Ramilio Hernandez. He was assessed a foul, but wasn't shown a card. However, due to a pregame agreement about reckless tackles, Rasmussen was pulled from the game by his coaches and LCFC played with 10 men the rest of the way.
"Magnus is a young boy, so he learned from that experience," O'Connor said. "It's a good learning curve for him, so there's a lot of value in that."
Despite being a man down, LCFC would tack on a third in the late going. After surviving a good response from UofL, which saw the Cardinals dominate the ball for a stretch, LCFC looked to break on the counter. There were a few opportunities for Bryan Burke down the right hand side, but it was Fondy who found space on the goal, as he lobbed the ball up nicely for a header from trialist Illija Illic, who calmly headed the ball past the keeper for the 3-0 advantage.
"For us, obviously, at times there were phases of play that were pleasing," O'Connor said. "It's a great challenge for us to play with 10 men, and I thought we coped very well. So, all in all we're pleased. I don't really want to single out any individual, but I thought the way Matt (Fondy) led the line tonight was incredible, especially with 10 men. He's working their back four at times and we're really pleased with how he's performing."
LCFC played on the road Saturday night at the University of Kentucky, but the result -- a 0-0 draw -- didn't quite match the team's performance, at least in the eyes of O'Connor.
"To completely dominate a game like that and not score is very frustrating," O'Connor said, via the team website. "Kentucky is a great team. They made plays and their keepers made some really good saves to prevent a goal. Still, it's frustrating."
LCFC consistently pressured the Wildcats' box, but never quite found the back of the net. There were several shots on target, and multiple quality chances for LCFC but the UK keeper made a few key saves and the finishing just wasn't there for City.
Louisville City will play its fourth match of the preseason on Tuesday night at Assumption High School against Lindsey Wilson College. The match will begin at 7:45 p.m.
Finally, There's a Goalkeeper
Heading into the match against the University of Louisville, Louisville City had yet to announce a goalkeeper signing. Members of the media were told that a trialist keeper had been flown into town specifically for that match and that his chances of making the squad were unlikely. However, something at the club changed, as that trialist keeper, Scott Goodwin, was announced as the club's first ever goalkeeper signing on Monday.
"We had our eye on Scott for a while," O'Connor said. "We had to be patient, but we wanted a keeper who matched every piece of criteria that we were looking for. We found that with Scott."
Goodwin last played with the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL, making four appearances for them last season. Prior to that, Goodwin was a member of the NCAA National Championship-winning North Carolina Tar Heels team from 2011.
After playing against UofL, and keeping a clean sheet, O'Connor spoke about Goodwin.
"We've had a plan all along. Scott is someone who we've liked. Obviously there are others that are there as well. Everything we do, there's a plan behind (it)."
- There's finally been some news surrounding who Orlando City will be sending down to the USL, and The Mane Land has been on top of it. Sidney Rivera, the Lions' fourth-round draft pick, will apparently be loaned to Louisville City. The word is that Rivera will not play in the Tuesday friendly against Lindsey Wilson College due to injury.
- Former Lion Bryan Burke has settled in nicely in Louisville so far this season as one of the team leaders, and he in fact wore the captain's armband in the UofL match. "I've been working hard all season, and it's been going between me and Matt (Fondy)," said Burke. "It's easy when everyone works their tails off."
- To the uneducated observer (me), Louisville City appeared to play a number of long balls in the first half of the UofL match, which in fact led to the first goal. However, O'Connor didn't see it that way. "I didn't see too many long balls. I saw balls going into space and somebody trying to get in. If you're under pressure you play where the space is, and at times it's a case of making sure that you understand where the space is and play where that is. I didn't think there was extra long balls in the first half."