This week, Louisville City found itself on either end of a 2-0 scoreline in two league matches on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
FC Montreal 0 - Louisville City 2
After a seven-match unbeaten streak across all competitions entering the week, the Royals traveled north for their first ever meeting with FC Montreal in Stade Saputo. Montreal, the USL affiliate of MLS club Montreal Impact, entered the match in last place of the USL Eastern Conference and the difference in quality between the two clubs showed rather quickly.
In the 16th minute Louisville City opened the scoring when Tarek Morad headed home a corner kick. Niall McCabe's outswinger was met by the head of a streaking Morad for his first goal of the season and only the second goal Louisville City has scored off of a corner.
The visiting Royals would score again before the break, albeit due to a complete and utter mental error on the part of Montreal. In the 28th minute, Montreal defender Ngoufack Mele Temguian attempted to pass to a teammate but apparently didn't notice Louisville captain Matt Fondy between them. The attempted pass fell directly at Fondy's feet and Louisville's leading goal scorer slotted it home with his left foot for his sixth of the season and the 2-0 lead.
Montreal would try to make a game of it, but a strong Louisville defense and a stout goalkeeper in Scott Goodwin would see Louisville maintain a clean sheet for the seventh time this season.
Of note was the professional debut of midfielder Collin Fernandez. The Chicago Fire loanee, who was announced as a Louisville City player last week, came on in the 89th minute.
Highlights from the win:
Rochester 2 - Louisville City 0
From Montreal, Louisville traveled back across the border to Rochester, NY, for the second of a three-game road trip, all in the span of less than a week.
Perhaps due to travel fatigue, or perhaps with an eye on Tuesday's massive U.S. Open Cup match with the Chicago Fire, Head Coach James O'Connor elected to field a second choice starting lineup against the league-leading and undefeated Rochester Rhinos on Saturday at Sahlen's Stadium.
O'Connor dropped usual starters Kadeem Dacres, Bryan Burke and Magnus Rasmussen to the bench and made another, Charlie Adams, unavailable for the match entirely. In their places were Collin Fernandez, Sean Reynolds, Austen King and Orlando City loanee Sidney Rivera, who made his first league start alongside Matt Fondy in what was nominally a 4-4-2 formation. However, the changes would prove detrimental, as the Royals were shut out for the first time in league play, 2-0.
Louisville played on the back foot from the start and was unable to gain or control possession in midfield, which has been one of the stronger characteristics of the team.
After conceding a considerable amount of possession in the first half, the Rhinos struck first, as a defensive mistake by King set up Rochester's Kenardo Forbes perfectly for the goal. Onua Thomas Obasi drove toward the Louisville end line and sent in a cross that the Royal defense could have easily cleared. The responsibility fell on King, who could only pop the ball up to the edge of the box, where a wide open Forbes volleyed a rocket into the back of Goodwin's net for the halftime advantage.
The second half would prove just as unfruitful for Louisville City, and Rochester would capitalize on another defensive lapse.
In the 67th minute, Rochester was passing the ball around the edge of the box, when Sean Reynolds went down with an injury. While Reynolds laid on the turf in pain, the Rhinos' Tony Walls cut into the newly vacant space with the ball and fired a shot which Goodwin gamely was able to save. The rebound, however, fell directly to the Rhinos' Duba dos Santos, who finished easily for the two-goal lead.
Louisville City would be unable to get back into the game with a goal, and fell to Rochester by that scoreline. Louisville (5-2-5, 20 points) remains in fourth place in the USL Eastern Conference standings, with games in hand on both the second- and third-place teams.
"Highlights" from the loss:
Rivera Sees Action, First Start
Orlando City loanee Sidney Rivera saw significant action and received his first league start in Louisville's matches this week.
The forward from Old Dominion came on late against Montreal on the road and played 65 minutes against Rochester in the start. Among the notable action, Rivera had a terrific header off of a Juan Guzman free kick that would've been a goal were it not for a terrific save from Rhinos' keeper Brandon Miller, who had a great night. Rivera also received a yellow card in the 62nd minute of the match.
Chicago Fire Up Next
Louisville City will finish off its three-game road trip with a U.S. Open Cup test against the Chicago Fire Tuesday night at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. Kickoff will be 8:30 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live locally in Louisville on ESPN 680 AM on the radio, in what will be Louisville City's first ever radio broadcast. Both teams enter the game fresh off of 2-0 losses on the road.