Match: Louisville City FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders
Date: Wednesday, August 23rd
Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Central, 4:30 p.m. Pacific, 11:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: Louisville Slugger Field (Louisville, KY)
Stream: ESPN3 USL Game of the Week only available live through WatchESPN (Match will be available on USL’s YouTube channel at a later date).
How Louisville will look: Louisville has been doing pretty well for themselves since losing to Harrisburg back in June. They’ve shot all the way up to second place in the Eastern Conference, and a win on Wednesday would be enough to get them into first place over Charlotte.
It’s not surprising that Louisville has been racking up the wins because they’ve also been racking up the goals. Luke Spencer in particular has been on a major hot streak. He has found the back of the net in each of their last four wins, including twice against Bethlehem on Sunday.
Louisville has been fielding a consistent starting XI is recent weeks, but you won’t be seeing midfielder Kyle Smith on Wednesday. He picked up a straight red in Bethlehem, so he’ll be suspended for this match.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg hasn’t played since their rough loss against Pittsburgh on the 12th. That’s probably a good thing, because they desperately needed some time off after a string of bad results. Unfortunately, they had to spend that time off watching several other teams improving their playoff positions at the City Islander’s expense. Harrisburg now sits seven points out of the playoff picture with only eight matches remaining.
Hopefully the time off will allow the City Islanders to hit the pitch in Louisville with a little more energy after they started out flat in some of their recent matches. However, they will have to make due without Jaime Thomas as he serves a yellow card accumulation suspension (for real this time).
What to expect: Well this all feels familiar, doesn’t it? Harrisburg has been playing poorly and comes into the Louisville match with a long winless streak. Meanwhile, Louisville has been getting plenty of wins and scoring pretty much at will. That’s basically a repeat of the situation heading into the last time these teams played back in June. But here’s the thing, Harrisburg won that match. So is upset number two in the cards?
As much as I like to be hopeful, the outlook is not so good. Consider this, Harrisburg hasn’t scored a goal in their last five matches. By comparison, Louisville has scored FIFTEEN goals over their last five matches. That says it all right there.
So Louisville will most likely come into this one trying to put it away early. It’ll be especially dangerous if they have a lot of early set piece opportunities. Luke Spencer is a particularly effective scorer off of free kicks or corner kicks, and Harrisburg has had a lot of trouble defending them recently. With Harrisburg’s recent offensive struggles, one early goal might be enough to put them away.
The City Islander’s sole focus on Wednesday night should be getting on the scoreboard first at all costs. Even with all of their struggles in 2017, they still play very well when they’re protecting a lead. Here’s something to keep in mind, Harrisburg has gotten at least one point in all of the matches where they’ve scored first in 2017.
PREDICTION: Harrisburg got the win last time under tough circumstances, but I don’t see that happening again. Louisville gets the win at home 2-0.