USL Week 14 Recap: Louisville Stay Hot, Monarchs Upset

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

A clash of the Eastern Conference titans highlighted this weeks USL action as Louisville City FC hosted FC Cincinnati in a match with first place implications. Not only was Louisville looking to fend off a surging Cincinnati side, but also keep a distance from a dominant New York Red Bull II team who continues to be the best defensive team in the entire league.

Out West, games were a bit more unpredictable with Real Monarchs continuing to surprise the upper portion of the table with a huge win over Colorado Springs. Much like last year, the Western Conference is cannibalizing each other as the competitive nature leads to chaos for league leaders.

Louisville Stays on Top in the East

Louisville City FC had a rough week of games but managed to pull through and remain atop the Eastern Conference. First was a game at home against Toronto FC II which proved to be a walk in the park as Louisville dominated the game. They led 3-0 before the break and added another against a Toronto team that has shown improvements but lacked any real bite in this fixture.

The blowout win allowed head coach James O’Connor to rest a number of players including team leading goal scorer Chandler Hoffman ahead of the big weekend clash against FC Cincinnati. A crowd of over 10,000 piled into Louisville Slugger Field to see both teams deadlocked and unable to decide a winner. Paco Craig did force some early saves from Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. The keeper was most instrumental in keeping the game scoreless late as a free kick from Cameron Lancaster nearly put Louisville ahead.

Louisville will remain in first place with a four point lead on New York but can be caught with Red Bull II holding two games in hand. The first place team’s record setting goal-scoring and high powered offense will be put to the test in the summer months as the schedule only gets more congested from here.

Real Monarchs Get Back on Track

Real Monarchs SLC have had hard month as they’ve lost three straight games and dropped into the lower half of the table. This weekend’s game against Colorado Springs seemed a sign of doom for the side considering their lackluster run of form.

However, Freddy Juarez’s side responded by playing up to the challenged and defeating the Switchbacks in a highly competitive game.

Elder Torres notched the only tally of the game in the 24th minute after a defensive lapse by the Switchbacks. From there the Monarchs held tight but seemed destined to surrender the lead after they gave up a penalty in extra time. Fortunately, Luke Vercollone couldn’t convert the effort and the Switchbacks suffered their second straight loss to a team below them in the standings.

Colorado Springs falls to fourth in the Western Conference and will certainly feel that the past two weeks were a missed opportunity to move up the table. Next week they will have a chance at revenge as the Monarchs will once again play them in Switchbacks Stadium.

RESULTS:

FC Montreal: 3
Harrisburg City Islanders: 2

Toronto FC II: 1
Louisville City FC: 4

Arizona United SC: 1
Rio Grande Valley FC: 1

Orange County Blues FC: 2
San Antonio FC: 3

Charlotte Independence: 3
Harrisburg City Islanders: 1

Tulsa Roughnecks: 0
LA Galaxy II: 2

Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 1
Rochester Rhinos: 2

FC Cincinnati: 0
Louisville City FC: 0

Portland Timbers 2: 0
St. Louis FC: 1

Bethlehem Steel FC: 0
Richmond Kickers: 0

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 1
OKC Energy FC: 1

Sacramento Republic FC: 1
Arizona United SC: 1

Orlando City B: 3
FC Montreal: 1

Real Monarchs SLC: 1
Colorado Springs Switchbacks: 0

Swope Park Rangers: 2
Seattle Sounders FC 2: 0

Wilmington Hammerheads: 0
New York Red Bull II: 4

Charleston Battery: 1
Toronto FC II: 0

Orange County Blues FC: 2
Rio Grande Valley FC: 1