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Louisville City: Get on The Bandwagon Now

1By Kevin Kernen | Photo by Christian Watson

In a city and a state divided along

college lines, Louisville City FC has become a

confluence of local fans, red and blue alike. Having

started their 2018 season in March, LouCity is on

the campaign to defend the laurels of the most

fruitful season to date, when the team collected

their conference regular season and playoff titles

en route to winning the league last November.

If you’ve been living under a rock since 2015,

LouCity has quickly branded itself as the most

exciting sports experience in the area. The vocal

support has created a pressure cooker of a home

advantage at Louisville Slugger Field, a reputation

that precedes the team across the league.

The league that “The Boys in Purple” makes their

home in is the United Soccer League (USL), which

occupies the second division of American soccer,

second only to Major League Soccer (MLS). The

USL counts cities such as San Antonio, Las Vegas,

Cincinnati, Phoenix and Indianapolis among their

markets and continues to add franchises each

season. The league has grown threefold since 2012,

and LouCity has kept pace with the exploding

number of competitive teams joining the fray.

The team brings an exciting roster to Slugger,

managed by the scrupulous Irishman James

O’Connor.

O’Connor imparts a pragmatic, yet positive

playing style on the international collection

of players. LouCity’s squad features members

from eight countries, a wealth of domestic and

international experience, as well as a number of

players with local ties, like Richard Ballard. The

Louisville native attended Manual High School and

Indiana University for four years before signing his

first professional contract last season for LouCity.

He cemented his reputation as an exciting young

player who played a part in eight goals.

From further afield, London, England, natives

Paco Craig and Cameron Lancaster have both

had a palpable impact on the club. Entering his

fourth season for the club, Lancaster scored the

decisive goal in last November’s USL Cup Final

for LouCity. On the opposite end of the field,

central Craig made headlines last season as the

only LouCity player to feature in the USL Team

of the Season, the leader of a defensive unit that

O’Connor hangs his hat on. From top to bottom,

the roster is full of talented players, all of whom are

upstanding people in addition to being successful

on the field.

Off of the field, Louisville City is also no stranger

to success. Last October, Louisville’s Metro Council

voted 20-4 to allocate some $30 million of public

money toward a 37-acre site in the Butchertown

neighborhood that is to become the home for a

bespoke 10,000 seat stadium for the team. With

plans for seating to be expandable to 20,000 and

inclusion of retail and hotel space, the project

is sure to transform the area, which is currently

occupied by an auto salvage yard and a storage

facility, among other things. There are a few other

hurdles for the project to clear before ground can

be broken. The team targets a 2020 deadline set by

the USL for all teams to play in their own stadium.

The team is also part of a number of media

agreements, entering their second year of hosting

game broadcasts on the local iHeartRadio network

of stations, chiefly on News Radio 840 WHAS.

New for this season, local radio personality Tony

Vanetti hosts a weekly Coach’s Show with James

O’Connor, along with select players on News Radio

840 WHAS at 8 p.m. Monday nights. Rounding out

the radio programming is the revamped Soccer

City Radio show (find more details on the Thursday

night program below). LouCity games are also live

streamed on YouTube and on TV locally across

WDRB, WMYO and WBNA.

All of those outlets are useful, but nothing quite

compares to the experience of attending a game.

If you haven’t been to a LouCity match before,

ask someone who has. If you don’t know anyone

who’s attended a match, I’ll give a brief synopsis

of what a typical match day looks like to an ardent

supporter. Firstly, matches typically kickoff at 7:30

on a Saturday evening, which means tailgating

begins in the early afternoon, maybe in the late

morning if it’s an important match. Libations and

food are aplenty as the purple loyal find their way

to the tailgate, the largest of which takes place in

the parking lot situated across Preston Street from

Louisville Slugger Field. While the doors open 90

minutes prior to kickoff, the majority of supporters

don’t leave the tailgate until about 30 minutes

before kick and are usually well lubricated by then.

Led by the talented Coopers drum corps, named

the Groove Machine, the fans parade around the

ground, singing their LouCity-centric songs all the

way to their reserved section behind one of the

goals. Once there, they stand and sing all match

long, breaking from their repertoire only for the

tradition of singing “My Old Kentucky Home.” If

a goal is scored, purple and yellow smoke billows

from the supporters’ section, and the fans rejoice.

Ninety minutes later, the fans cheer the players

off the pitch – win, lose or draw. The players

exchange high-fives with the crowd en route to

the locker room, where they mingle with fans

after the game as well. In all, it’s a thoroughly

exciting experience, with multiple levels to

engage on. For people looking for a more subtle

experience, a sideline seat is more appropriate.

With a better sightline on the proceedings, this

section gives an ideal vantage for absorbing

the percussive atmosphere while following the

match’s progression.

The outlook for the season at hand is a positive

one. City returned 15 players from last season’s

squad that won the USL Cup- something unheard

of at this level of the game. The team brought on an

important combination of youth and experience for

the 2018 campaign. Headlining the new signings

is the return of fan favorite Magnus Rasmussen

and MLS veteran Shaun Francis. MagRam, as he

is affectionately called by the supporters, was

part of the purple team in the 2015 and 2016

seasons before returning to his native Denmark

for last season. The midfield dynamo faces some

competition to make the starting lineup, but he

is certain to get some good minutes this season.

Francis, a versatile wing player, who’s represented

his native Jamaica on the international stage over

a dozen times, played in nearly a century of MLS

matches over a 7-year foray into the league.

The pair join an already stacked LouCity cadre

of players who are separated from retaining their

trophy by a grueling season, their path paved with

opponents and flanked by supporters. Soccer is

happening in a big way here, the only question

is, will you join them?


Soccer City Radio

New for this seas on, Extol writer Kevin

Kernen is taking to the airwaves on

Soccer City Radio show. Kevin appears

alongside longtime co-host La nce

McGarvey, the voice of Louisville City. Join

the duo on the hour-long weekly show

that covers all forms of soccer, from

Louisville City to local colleges to the US

National teams. Tune in to 1080 WKSK 7 p.m.

Thursday and on the iHeart Radio app.

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