Considering its context, last Wednesday night's 4-0 loss at home to FC Montreal was the most disappointing yet in Louisville City's young history.
Having won six games in a row coming in, a win would have put the Royals within two points of first place, albeit temporarily, with a game in hand. Instead, Louisville remains in second place on 38 points, still looking up at the Rochester Rhinos.
With two changes to what had been a rock solid starting XI, the Lous fell behind early when Alessandro Riggi exploited space in Louisville's defense and blasted home an easy shot. The fourth-minute goal was the fastest Louisville has ever conceded.
"You can't start games like that," Louisville City Head Coach James O'Connor said post-game. "If you look at the first 22 minutes, you're 3-0 down. You give yourself a mountain to climb."
From there, the story of the match became increasingly predictable. Louisville held onto the ball for long periods of time, putting continued pressure on Montreal's goal, but couldn't beat Montreal keeper Maximme Crépeau. Meanwhile, Montreal themselves played quick on the counter and took advantage of a Louisville defense that was scrambling to return to their positions on the other end.
"Obviously there was some defensive mistakes," midfielder Juan Guzman said after the loss. "But I don't think you can point any fingers. Our intensity just wasn't up to par. We started slow and they capitalized on it."
Riggi added another goal to his tally -- his team-leading seventh on the year -- in the 19th minute on a move that looked eerily similar to the first goal. Then Jacque Haman added a third moments later for the 3-0 Montreal lead that held until halftime, and Montreal was on the way to securing all three points on the road for just the second time all season.
The second half saw Louisville attack Crépeau's goal repeatedly, forcing seven saves from the Canadian keeper in total, but it was the visitors who would break the scoring plane after the break. Fabio Morelli found the back of the net just a minute from the end of the 90 to put the final nail in the purple coffin.
"We'd have been here until Christmas and couldn't score," O'Connor said.
The loss is only Louisville's second at home and fourth overall in the league this season. The Lous will try to regain their form Wednesday night at home in a huge match against third-place Charleston Battery. The 7:30 p.m. kickoff pits the second- and third-place teams in the USL Eastern Conference in their first match-up of the season. Charleston currently sits three points behind Louisville in the standings and would draw even on points with a victory.
"Highlights" from the loss:
Rivera Doesn't Play
Orlando City draftee Sidney Rivera may have all the talent he needs to succeed, but simply can't get the opportunity. The Old Dominion alum has traded a situation where he sat behind one of the USL's leading goalscorers in Louisville for a nearly identical situation in Pittsburgh. Rivera didn't see the field again this week as Pittsburgh's leading goal scorer Rob Vincent, who sits one place above Louisville's Matt Fondy for second on the league's scoring list, started and scored for the Riverhounds.