Monday, May 16, 2016

Know Your Enemy: Detroit City FC vs. Louisville City FC



With its historic win over the Michigan Bucks on May 11, Detroit City FC advanced to the second round of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The win was the clubs first victory in the domestic cup tournament since its creation in 2012, previously losing out to RWB Adria and the aforementioned Bucks. 

With the 4-3 shootout victory over the PDL club, DCFC qualified to the second round and will travel to Louisville, Ky., to take on the current USL league leaders in Louisville City FC. 

As of this writing, LCFC holds a record of five wins, one loss and two ties; good for 17 league points. With a goal differential of +6, 'Lou City' sits atop the Eastern Conference and shares the spoils for the full league lead with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, tied on goal differential. 

Last season, it finished second in the Eastern Conference behind the Rochester Rhinos, and finished second overall in the league holding one point over both the Orange County Blues and the Oklahoma City Energy; garnering a record of 14 wins, six draws and eight losses. 

In the 2015 playoffs, LCFC defeated the Charleston Battery in the Conference Semi-Finals after earning a first round bye. It was knocked out of the playoffs by last seasons powerhouse and champions, the Rochester Rhinos. 

This season's leading scorer is Jon Chandler Hoffman, who has scored seven goals in eight games. Last season's leading scorer, Matthew Fondy, tallied 22 in 28 appearances, but has since moved on to NASL club, Jacksonville Armada.

Playing in the USL, LCFC holds a 'non-official' working relationship with MLS side Orlando City SC, but unlike a majority of USL clubs, 'Lou City' doesn't have a professional affiliate in which it aligns itself with. 

The USL, widely regarded as the third level on the American soccer pyramid, integrated with the MLS Reserve Team League in 2013, effectively making the entity a pseudo-farm system for the first level clubs in American soccer; even if the league says otherwise. 

Louisville City FC is one of only eight clubs that doesn't field players signed to contracts from a Major League Soccer club, as well as not having a business correlation or affiliation with a parenting club. 

The Kentucky club participated in the 2015 version of the U.S. Open Cup, advancing to the fourth round of the competition, falling out against MLS club, the Chicago Fire, after extra time. 

To get to the 'MLS round' of the USOC, Lou City had to first play fellow NPSL Midwest Great Lakes West club, Lansing United, narrowly advancing on a Lan U., own goal. 

In the third round of the competition, it defeated Indy Eleven, a second level NASL club in the American Pyramid, before losing out to the Fire. 

There is a rabid fan base for Louisville City FC, with the most prominent supporters group leading the way in The Coopers. The Coopers support helped Lou City average 6,765 fans in attendance during the regular season, and 8,517 fans during the USL playoffs.  

There are a few key points heading into Wednesday's clash between Detroit City FC and Louisville City FC:

-Detroit City FC has come off of a grueling schedule of three games in five days, including the 120-minute plus penalty kicks against the Bucks that led into the second round. Whereas, Louisville City FC has only played three games in the entire month of May.

-DCFC is dealing with a plethora of injuries, according to coach Ben Pirmann, which may make the second round game quite difficult for Le Rouge

-Louisville City FC has scored 18 goals, in nine games. Good for an average of two goals-per-game; which could spell bad news for a depleted and struggling DCFC back line who seems to lose focus in the second half of games. DCFC has allowed a two goal average in league play within the young NPSL season. 

-First round U.S. Open Cup hero, goalkeeper Evan Louro, has vacated his spot on the DCFC squad, making way for a new 'keeper to man the crease against LCFC. An immediate starter has not been identified, but Joe Smith started, and played 90 minutes against the Dayton Dynamo over the weekend. 

-Wednesday's match will be the first time in club history that DCFC plays a club that is above the NPSL (fourth-tier) level on the American pyramid in a competitive match. 

Remember that FTLOF writer Robert Sherman (@FTLOFutbol/@r__sherman) is traveling to Kentucky to provide live coverage of the match; including in-game photos, periscope streaming of key moments and live tweets.

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