Louisville City FC hasn't yet made a habit of losing in its inaugural season, but this week's results at least count as a look in that direction.
Chicago Fire 1 - Louisville City 0
On a chilly, windy night in Bridgeview. Ill., Louisville City's hopes of an MLS upset were swept aside by a Quincy Amarikwa goal in the 116th minute of a fourth-round match-up in the U.S. Open Cup.
"I thought we were exceptional," Louisville Head Coach James O'Connor said of his team after the match. "Our play, at times, was excellent. I thought we were the better team over ninety minutes.
"I think the most disappointing thing tonight is the fact that we're talking about the referee. That decision is shocking."
The decision in question was a no-call on a potential hand ball in the buildup to the Chicago goal. Chicago's Razvan Cocis appeared to bring the ball down using his left arm while setting up Guly do Prado for a shot that Amarikwa deflected into goal.
"I think for that game to be decided by a decision like that is really, really poor," O'Connor continued.
"It's safe to say, I thought it was a hand ball."
After withstanding long periods of pressure on Scott Goodwin's box, Louisville held their own against their first division hosts. Louisville could have scored on two first-half shots by Matt Fondy and Magnus Rasmussen, and had another great chance in the second half from Kadeem Dacres. However, in what has become a theme this season, O'Connor lamented his team's missed opportunities.
"The one thing we were guilty of was not taking our chances," the Irishman said. "We've had some really good opportunities to score and hit the target. But our play at times was outstanding.
"To do that, at this level, having had what [travel] we've had, it's a credit to the players. I could not be more proud of each and every one of the players."
The loss ended Louisville's inaugural run in the 102nd edition of the national soccer championship, and took a great deal out of a hard working Louisville side.
"The overwhelming emotion is pride," O'Connor said.
Louisville City 0 - 2 New York Red Bulls II
To play 120 minutes against a higher division side on the road midweek sounds difficult in principle, but Louisville City couldn't have expected to come out so flat in their next league match against NYRB II.
Two giveaways in the defensive half were key to Louisville's first home loss on Saturday night at Louisville Slugger Field, and the guests took advantage of a depleted and worn out Louisville team to the tune of a 2-0 win on the road.
Inside of four minutes, the visitors took the lead as Conor Shanosky played the ball with a defender a little too near his intended target. New York's Konrad Plewa pounced on the loose ball and took an uncontested shot just inside the box that gave the Baby Bulls a shocking early lead, which marked the first time Louisville has been down at home.
"Conor makes a mistake [there] that he'll never make again," former Orlando City right back Bryan Burke, who has played every minute this season for Louisville, said of his teammate's giveaway. "Guys are tired.
"We had so much time that we could've bounced back easily."
Louisville would have a good response in the first half, but couldn't quite thread the final ball in several key spots. The best chance of the half for Louisville came on a long Matt Fondy run, which saw the captain's shot go wide of goal.
The second half, again, saw Louisville display the fatigue of a long road trip and an extra-time loss. Four substitutions were made at the the break for Louisville, but the giveaways didn't stop.
In the sixth minute of play after the break, Louisville left back Enrique Montano was taken off the ball just outside the box by an aggressive and high-pressing New York attack. The junior Red Bulls quickly moved the ball into open space, where talented youngster Derrick Etienne slotted home a goal for the 2-0 advantage.
A tired Louisville side searched for a goal to make things interesting but, similarly to the first half, seemingly couldn't complete the final ball or reach the cross.
"I knew we were gonna be tired. I didn't realize we were gonna be that tired," O'Connor said of his team's performance. "It was like a different team. Our energy levels were way off where we would expect and the intensity of our game was way off. Our decision making in possession -- there were so many things that were really disappointing."
The loss puts Louisville (5-3-5, 20 points) nine points off the pace of conference leaders Rochester in fourth place. The Royals will next face the OKC Energy, who sit in third place in the Western Conference, on Saturday at Louisville Slugger Field. Kickoff will be at 7:30.
- Orlando City loanee Sidney Rivera did not feature midweek at Chicago but did relieve Matt Fondy at halftime of the New York match. A personal criticism I've had of Rivera was that of hustle. There have been certain instances where he could have chased a ball or jumped into a passing lane. However, Sid put those questions to bed on Saturday. Shortly after coming into the game, Rivera tried to pump up his tired teammates as well as a quiet crowd when he chased down a back pass all the way to New York's keeper, where he nearly created a scoring chance and in fact won a corner. The youngster proved to me that he's very hungry and willing to work hard.
- The crowd on Saturday night was a healthy 7,454, which is good for a third straight record.