With the prize a likely opportunity to challenge a Major League Soccer side next in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, it took a major-league type of strike to seal a Louisville City FC 1-0 victory over Saint Louis FC in a Third Round match Wednesday.
Defender Sean Totsch scored an unassisted screamer of a goal in the 58th minute to tilt an otherwise deadlocked game in the host club’s favor.
“I’ve had a couple good goals in college like that — mostly training goals,” Totsch said. “But it was my special moment. It’s really hard to describe. I just kind of took my space, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.”
He got the shot off as a trio of Saint Louis FC defenders parted at just the right moment. Visiting goalkeeper Tomas Gomez never had a chance at stopping the only goal scored at the University of Louisville’s Lynn Stadium.
Most of the 2,008 fans in attendance went into a frenzy. A few, of course, were wearing Saint Louis FC’s green and navy blue colors.
Both USL clubs entered the league in 2015, playing their inaugural match against one other. But multiple changes in Saint Louis FC’s conference affiliation have impeded the rivalry. This year, Saint Louis is back to the West and LouCity still in the East, meaning this is the only competitive meeting they’ll have barring a postseason meeting.
Totsch’s highlight goal made it a memorable one.
“Relief” is what went through LouCity’s Oscar Jimenez’s mind when he saw the goal. Coach James O’Connor echoed that, saying he was “very pleased.”
“I’ve seen Totsch hit those in training,” Jimenez said. “I saw him stepping up and stepping up. In my head I’m like, ‘Shoot it. Shoot it. Shoot it.’ He shot it — and such a great goal.”
Added O’Connor: “I think it was fantastic technique.”
LouCity moved on to the Cup’s Fourth Round for just the second time as a result. In 2015, the boys in purple took the Chicago Fire to extra time before falling 1-0 on the road.
After suffering consecutive defeats in league play, the club has now rattled off three straight wins across all competitions. O’Connor’s side by no means overwhelmed Saint Louis FC, but the squad seemed to get the better of chances, out-shooting the visitors, 10-7.
It took Gomez’s diving 36th-minute save off a Jimenez free kick to keep things level in the first half. Saint Louis FC offered little in response to Totsch’s goal, aside from a loose ball scrum in the box off a corner in stoppage time. LouCity keeper Tim Dobrowoslki corralled back possession to secure the win.
“We always know it’s going to be very organized,” O’Connor said of Saint Louis FC’s defense, “and it’s going to be difficult to break them down.”
He credited a second game in a week on a “bigger field” at Lynn Stadium — LouCity plays its regular-season home games in a Triple-A baseball stadium — for room to operate offensively.
Additionally, the matchup brought back a pair of former LouCity stalwarts in defender Sean Reynolds and midfielder Kadeem Dacres. Both started for Saint Louis FC in their first seasons with the club, and were welcomed by applause. There are good vibes between the clubs despite their past rivalry, with O’Connor a close friend, too, of Saint Louis coach Anthony Pulis, a former Orlando City SC teammate during their own playing days.