Louisville City 1 - 0 Charlotte Independence
Winning matters, it's as simple as that.
With their 1-0 grind-it-out victory over the Charlotte Independence on Saturday, Louisville City FC proved yet again that they are cut from some winning cloth.
"You're gonna get games where you can't score the amount of goals that we've been scoring every week," Head Coach James O'Connor said of the match, which comes on the heels of a run of nine goals in two games. "The important thing for me is when you get a game like you do tonight -- you get a goal -- is to make sure you win the game. I thought we did that very well."
The game was a rematch of Louisville's first ever loss in the league, a 1-0 defeat at Charlotte on Kentucky Derby day, and Louisville did well to turn the tables on their Carolinian visitors.
After an open first half, which saw both teams create chances to score, Louisville struck first via a penalty that was given as the result of a Patrick Slogic handball in the box. Slogic, who was the villainous goal scorer in the previous match between these two, appeared to have his hands tucked into his body when Bryan Burke's ball struck his arm, but referee Aaron Hernandez saw it differently. The penalty was expertly taken by Magnus Rasmussen, and Louisville grabbed the lead.
Then it was up to Louisville to see the game out.
Charlotte ramped up the pressure for much of the rest of the game, and Louisville nearly conceded in the closing minutes under a rash of Charlotte corners and chances amid constant pressure on Scott Goodwin's goal. A key block in the 81st minute by left back Enrique Montano was enough to prevent what would have certainly been a goal.
"That's a defender, you're gonna have those moments where you gotta do that last ditch defending," Goodwin said of the block. "Get in there and throw your body in front of it. Good defenders do that."
"It's pleasing, but it's what we expect," O'Connor said of the heroic effort.
The victory pushes Louisville City's (8-3-5, 29 points) goal differential to a league-best +16, and comes at the end of a four-game home stand which saw the Royals earn nine of 12 possible points. With that, Louisville takes to the road for three straight, but that won't change the team's winning expectations.
"There's three points for every game," O'Connor said. "Whether we're at home or whether we're away, our approach is always the same."
"The challenge for us is to not let it change the equation," Goodwin said of the challenges the road presents. "We just get to go on a nice trip, see a cool city, go play a game, and try and put the target on the other team's back."
The Royals will next take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday.
Highlights of the win:
Sidney Rivera Gets Back on the Field
After two straight matches without seeing the field, including one where he wasn't even listed in the game-day team sheet, Orlando City loanee Sidney Rivera got back out on the field in the closing minutes of Louisville's 1-0 victory in a bit of a different role than he's used to. Rivera entered the game and played in a deeper midfield role for the first few minutes of his substitute appearance, and had a couple of cameo opportunities on the ball. After Matt Fondy was subbed off late, Rivera resumed his normal position up top.