The 2023 USL Championship Playoffs kick-off for Louisville City FC just like the club prefers – with everything on the line from the very first whistle.
City visit Memphis 901 FC on Saturday night for a win-or-go-home Eastern Conference Quarterfinal showdown. Kickoff in Tennessee is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
After an up-and-down regular season, the fifth-seeded boys in purple now embrace the razor-thin margins of the postseason. Their title defense and the hope of playoff glory hinges on winning three straight elimination games.
“It’s playoff time – the games only get bigger from here,” said coach Danny Cruz. “We know it’s win or the season is over.”
That prospect should sharpen the focus of his battle-tested group. LouCity’s veteran core has proven their big-game mentality time and again when it matters most.
Captain Paolo DelPiccolo and striker Cameron Lancaster top the list of players who have repeatedly delivered in the clutch. Their steadying presence provides the belief that this team’s best soccer lies ahead.
But fourth-seeded Memphis presents a stern test, especially on their home turf. When these emerging rivals met in the regular season, the visitors won both legs by a 2-1 score.
“No one expects us to go on the road and get a result except the guys in our locker room,” noted defender Sean Totsch. “We need to embrace being underdogs.”
While LouCity controlled possession in the sides’ last meeting, Memphis punished errors clinically on the counterattack. Limiting those defensive mistakes is imperative.
The attacking trio of Phillip Goodrum, Laurent Kissiedou, and Mark Segbers have game-breaking talent. LouCity must maintain constant vigilance and organization.
But if Lancaster, Brian Ownby, and Co. can find openings against a shaky 901 defense, City’s title know-how could prove the difference.
After an up-and-down campaign, 90 white-knuckle minutes now decide Louisville City’s fate. Survive and advance, or season over.
With everything at stake, the boys in purple look poised to embrace the occasion. Their chance at history begins with a playoff classic under the lights in Memphis.
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(Photo: Memphis 901 FC)