Lynn Family Stadium played host to its first-ever US Open Cup match as Louisville City FC hosted USL League One’s Chattanooga Red Wolves. The home team from the USL Championship controlled the tempo and created numerous dangerous opportunities. The Red Wolves weathered the storm for 75 minutes before Louisville found the game-deciding goal that would send them on to the Third Round for the sixth tournament in a row.
The hosts entered the match unbeaten in USL Championship play, boasting a 3-0-2 record having only allowed one goal. Louisville’s new goalkeeper, Kyle Morton, along with defensive standouts Amadou Dia and Sean Totsch have all played major factors in the club’s impressive defensive start to the campaign. The visitors, meanwhile, have just begun their season this past Saturday with a 1-1 draw with Forward Madison FC.
Within the first 15 minutes of the match, Louisville City created several chances, including a promising cross to the young Ray Serrano that was astutely intercepted by Chattanooga’s goalkeeper, Carlos Avilez.
At the 31st minute mark, Louisville City captain Paolo DelPiccolo went down in the Red Wolves box after a shoving challenge that was waved off by the referee, drawing the ire of the home crowd of over 4,000. Despite the boys in purple winning most statistical battles, they could not capitalize, and both teams entered the locker room with the scoreline at 0-0.
At the start of the second half, Brian Ownby and Corben Bone entered the match for Serrano and DelPiccolo.
The second half began to look a bit more optimistic for the Red Wolves. They found their first on-target shot of the night at the 52-minute mark that was gobbled up by Morton.
Louisville, looking to break the deadlock, brought in Jorge Gonzalez and Manny Perez in the 63rd minute for Enoch “Matiti” Mushagalusa and Jan Erik Leinhos, who made his debut for the club in this match.
Louisville City nearly broke the deadlock in the 65th minute when Perez made a beautiful run down the right flank and passed the ball to an awaiting Ownby whose on-target shot was narrowly saved by the outstretched leg of a Red Wolves defender. In the ensuing scuffle for the ball, Napo Matsoso found an open shot of his own that he sent sailing over the goal into the crowd.
Chattanooga’s first subs of the match made their way on in theh 68th minute when Pedro Hernandez and Moe Espinoza exited for Rey Ortiz and Rafael Mentzingen. Not long after, Wilson Harris found Louisville City’s goal.
Avilez dished the ball out to his teammate, who could not settle the pass. The veteran midfielder, Bone, took advantage of the opportunity and quickly crossed the ball over to Harris, who adeptly put the ball past the keeper and into the net. Louisville’s academy signee, Carlos Moguel, was taken off after the goal for the fan-favorite, Naill McCabe. Red Wolves subbed out Jimmie Villalobos for Josue Cartagena in the 79th minute and Angel Josue Espana for Jonathan Guadarrama at the 85-minute mark but unfortunately they were unable to help their club keep their cup dreams alive. The final whistle blew 1-0 for Louisville City.
Louisville City head coach, Danny Cruz, was clear about his intentions for the US Open Cup in the lead-up to their first match.
“I’ve made it clear both to the players and to the press that, for me, this is an important tournament,” Cruz said. “It’s a tournament that I want us to get after. And when you look at the momentum that’s built off of another shutout, the players feel that. They feel it in training every day. Now there’s areas that we need to continue to improve in the attack. There’s no doubt about it.
Tell ’em about it, @Nosliwharris! 👏
Wilson slots it right past Chattnooga’s keeper for the first goal of the night! pic.twitter.com/AUgnsTow9Z
— Louisville City FC (@loucityfc) April 7, 2022
“I think in the first half, we created enough chances to score goals, but that will come at the end of the day,” Cruz added. “If we continue to keep a zero on the scoreboard, I know I have the quality in that locker room to score goals. It will come. Relationships will continue to be built and I’m confident in that.”
Although the home team dictated much of the match, the Chattanooga Red Wolves had a respectable performance. They held off a hungry LouCity attack for much of the match and found a few close calls of their own with their very limited possession of the ball in City’s half. Unfortunately, the Red Wolves will need to wait until next year to advance to the Third Round. Their attention will now turn to their league match against North Carolina FC. Coach Cruz’s Louisville City booked their trip to the next round in hopes of showcasing their talent deep into the tournament. While they await the outcome of the draw ( Noon, ET on Friday), preparations will continue for their next match away at Loudoun United.