Detroit City FC and Louisville City FC may now be competitors in the USL Championship, but it’s been a while since meeting in the US Open Cup. Much like 2016 when the teams last met in Cup play, Louisville City advanced on penalties to the Round of 16 after a 1-1 draw with host Detroit, who were then an amateur side in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).
With the 4-2 win in the shootout, Louisville City is one of the last lower division sides remaining. The last time they made it this far was 2018, when they reached the Quarterfinals before bowing out to the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.
Both sides were tested early in the match. In the 4th minute, DCFC striker Francis Atuahene was served a long ball from Maxi Rodriguez along the right wing, where he was able to get past the defense and hit a shot toward the back post. Louisville goalkeeper Kyle Morton made the diving save to his right to stop the effort. Four minutes later, LCFC’s Brian Ownby was the recipient of his own long ball toward the net, but his advance into the box was cleared by Detroit’s Deklan Wynne before the goal could be threatened.
The game continued back and forth until the 12th minute. Atuahene intercepted a failed clearance from the Louisville defense and lobbed the ball past defender Sean Totsch. Totsch then recovered to clip Atuahene in the box, earning DCFC a penalty kick.
Just like in Detroit’s win over the Columbus Crew in the previouus round, reigning TheCup.us Player of the Round Maxi Rodriguez stepped up to take the spot kick. This time, he went the opposite way of Morton, going to his left to give Le Rouge the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. It was Rodriguez’s third goal of this tournament (second from the penalty spot), and fourth of his USOC career.
Although Louisville City went down, they were not discouraged, and kept pressing on. They earned a free kick just outside of the box after a cleared corner led to Antoine Hoppenot checking Joshua Wynder to the turf in the 16th minute. Paolo DelPiccolo took the free kick, aiming for the top left corner. However, Steinwascher was able to tip the ball off the crossbar and back into his possession.
Louisville was rewarded for their efforts in the 24th minute, as a corner kick led to multiple LCFC players touching the ball prior to Wes Charpie taking a shot from the top of the six-yard box. His effort was blocked by Connor Rutz, but the rebound fell to striker Wilson Harris, who was able to bury the ball into the back of the net and equalize the match. It was Harris’ second goal of the tournament. The first was the lone goal in the team’s 1-0 home win over Chattanooga Red Wolves (USL League One) in the Second Round.
LCFC was able to earn one last chance before halftime. Ownby was able to head a one-time cross toward the net. He had Steinwascher beat, but not defender Devon Amoo-Mensah, as he headed the ball off the line.
The second half saw more chances from both sides, but neither were able to break the deadlock. The last 10 minutes of regulation saw Louisville City earn more opportunities as the limited roster for DCFC due to injuries appeared to catch up with them, but the Detroit City back line held firm, and the result led to extra-time.
Each club had one good chance to take the lead in extra time, but neither were successful. Detroit’s came first in the 102nd minute as substitute Billy Forbes sent in a cross for Pato Botello Faz inside the box. Botello Faz was able to volley a shot on target, but a diving stop by Morton prevented the home side from taking advantage. In the 109th minute, it was Louisville’s turn. A feed into the box turned in to a one-time shot, but a sliding Amoo-Mensah blocked the opportunity.
For the second round in a row, Louisville City’s match would be decided by a penalty kick shootout. In Round 3, they defeated St. Louis CITY 2 (MLS Next Pro) 9-8 after a scoreless draw. While Lou City entered the game having never lost a shootout (2-0), Detroit City, as a club, entered the night as one of the most experienced clubs, having reached PKs on four occasions (2-2 record).
Sean Totsch started the penalty kick session for Louisville and put the first shot away. Goals were then traded by Rodriguez and Niall McCabe. The second DCFC kick, taken by Rhys Williams, was saved by a diving Morton, leaving Louisville with a 2-1 lead after two rounds. Harris and Hoppenot then both put away their kicks as LCFC led 3-2 after three. Ian Soler was able to bury his penalty, putting DCFC on the brink. Their captain Stephen Carroll stepped to the spot ready to keep his club alive, but instead skied the shot over the crossbar, leaving Louisville City victorious.
Detroit City FC leaves the tournament, but not before claiming victory over an MLS side (Columbus Crew) and advancing the furthest they’ve ever been in the USOC, surpassing two Second Round finishes from 2016 and 2018 as an amateur side. The game itself was the focus of the night with much of the pre-game controversy fading to the background. Normally the crowd at Keyworth Stadium is known for being energetic from the first whistle to the last, but notably, the supporters of Le Rouge stayed silent for the first five minutes of the match in protest of the club enforcing a rule about displaying profanity on signs and clothing. Traveling Louisville City supporters remained quiet in solidarity. Once the clock hit the 5:00 mark, the rowdiness of the stadium was restored and the “censorship” drama was moved to the background.
For Louisville City, they advance to the Round of 16, and extend their unbeaten streak in all competitions to 13 games. They will learn their opponent on Thursday when the USSF conducts the draw for the Fifth Round.