Kyle Smith of Louisville City celebrates a goal against the Long Island Rough Riders in the Second Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Mathew Ballard | Louisville City
Having watched film of his club’s Second Round opponent in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Louisville City FC forward Ilija Ilic saw in advance the type of play that led the Long Island Rough Riders to a Premier Development League conference final appearance a year ago.
“They have some movements that are next level,” Ilic said of the amateur side. But as the professionals in the PDL-USL matchup, Ilic added, “We were ready for it.”
It showed as Louisville City posted a dominant 5-0 victory Wednesday night at Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Ky. It was the second year in a row that City began the US Open Cup with a one-sided blowout of an amateur side. Last year, they traveled to Pittsburgh and embarrassed Tartan Devils Oak Avalon by the score of 9-0.
Ilic assisted Kyle Smith’s opening goal in the 25th minute before scoring one of his own own off a corner 12 minutes later. The game that was never in doubt from there with the Rough Riders unable to record a shot until the second half. In turn, Louisville goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski had to make just one save all night.
“They’ve had some success there as well,” Louisville coach James O’Connor said of Long Island, which defeated the Kingston Stockade to advance to the Second Round and also opened their PDL season with a win.
“It’s easy to see why, because they play really well. They’ve got good movement. We caused them a lot of problems and didn’t really allow them to get a foothold in the game, which was important, because if you do, then they’ll capitalize. It was great to see that intensity tonight.”
Rounding out scoring, Oscar Jimenez crossed to Luke Spencer for a tap-in goal in the 67th minute; Brian Ownby juked a defender on the end line and rocketed a shot in the upper corner in the 81st; and Cameron Lancaster scored on a gem of a curling free kick in the 86th.
Luke Spencer and Oscar Jiminez of Louisville City celebrate a goal against the Long Island Rough Riders in the Second Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Matthew Ballard
Lancaster shrugged, smiled, and ensured LouCity was on to the Open Cup’s Third Round against fellow USL side Saint Louis FC, a former rival now playing in the Western Conference.
“I thought the guys performed really well,” O’Connor said. “I thought there were some lovely passages — some really good finishes. We can be really pleased.”
The scoreline would have been more lopsided were it not for a standout effort by Long Island’s goalkeeper, Danny Vitiello, whose University of Albany last year won the America East Conference and knocked traditional powerhouse Maryland out of the NCAA tournament.
Vitiello prevented a brace for Smith by diving to his right, stopping a penalty try in the 50th minute. And in the 60th, City midfielder Magnus Rasmussen played a shot through a defender’s legs. Vitiello couldn’t have seen much of the ball — but he got a hand on it nonetheless.
Ultimately, Louisville out-shot the Rough Riders 18-3 in what was a bounce-back performance. The 2017 USL champions entered having lost consecutive league games for the first time in nearly two years.
“I think it’ll certainly help,” O’Connor said. “It’s great to see some of the guys go on and get goals.”
The victory came in the University of Louisville’s soccer-specific Lynn Stadium, which is about half the size of what the club is currently constructing. For now, LouCity plays regular-season home games in a Triple-A baseball stadium, but will open its own facility in 2020.
“The first thing I’d like to do is really thank everyone connected with U of L,” O’Connor said. “Genuinely, a heartfelt thanks for allowing us to come and play at such a wonderful facility.”
“It was great — I’ll tell you that,” Ilic said of playing to a home crowd in the more intimate environment. “It was really good.”
And they’ll do it again next week, with Louisville-Saint Louis FC also to be played at Lynn Stadium.