Louisville City FC advanced in the USL Championship Playoffs on Saturday night, outlasting Memphis 901 FC on penalties after a 1-1 draw to reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Veteran defender Oscar Jimenez drilled home the decisive spot kick before 901’s Aidan McFadden rattled his attempt off the post, giving LouCity a 5-4 shootout victory.
The boys in purple move on to host Detroit City FC next weekend back at Lynn Family Stadium, despite having to scrap and claw for 120 minutes just to stay alive.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the group — the fight,” said coach Danny Cruz. “We’re in it, and we are coming back home to host a game in front of our amazing fans, and I cannot wait.”
It took resilience for LouCity to force penalties after falling behind just 38 seconds in on Bruno Lapa’s opener. But Cameron Lancaster equalized in the 18th minute, capitalizing on Carlos Moguel Jr.’s driven corner.
From there, City leaned heavily on goalkeeper Oliver Semmle, who made two crucial extra time saves to keep the score level ahead of spot kicks.
LouCity then showed nerves of steel in the shootout, converting all five tries. Sean Totsch, Wilson Harris, Dylan Mares and Niall McCabe also scored before Jimenez ended it.
“We’ve been here many times before,” said McCabe. “Big teams go out early – you don’t want to be that team. It’s about winning, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Despite ceding possession, LouCity’s experienced core defended resiliently for 120 minutes. Their determination and belief under pressure shone through.
Advancing past the first hurdle keeps alive City’s incredible streak of never being eliminated before the conference semifinals in their history. More daunting tests await, but the playoff format gives this battling side new life.
Cruz will hope his team builds confidence from summoning the grit to advance in adverse circumstances when not at their best. But survival is all that matters in the playoffs, and LouCity lives to fight another day.
With everything on the line, heroes emerged in the clutch. After an up-and-down campaign, the boys in purple showed they still have knockout soccer pedigree when it matters most.
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