For the second year in a row, Bethlehem Steel FC can say they were eliminated from the playoffs by the USL Cup champion, this time by a team led by former Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth.
Luke Spencer was able to put home the game’s only goal in a skirmish in the box off a corner kick in the 61st minute to lead Louisville City FC to its second straight USL Cup with a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising in front of 7,025 fans at Lynn Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville.
The match was the last of the long and storied career for Phoenix Rising veteran Didier Drogba, who recorded six shots but only had one on target off a free kick in the early going that tested the Louisville keeper.
La Salle University grad Joey Farrell, of Blue Bell, started on the back line for the visitors and had a penalty shout late in regulation when he was bumped while trying to get on the end of a long ball into the box.
The Steel lost 2-0 to Louisville in the quarterfinals on October 27th at Louisville Slugger Field after losing the club’s first ever playoff game at the minor league baseball stadium 4-0 in 2017.
Hackworth, who had been overseeing the United States U17 program since being fired by the Union in 2014, was appointed manager on August 2. Louisville City posted a 13-2-4 record, including the postseason, ending the year with 10 straight wins. One of his former players from his time with the Union, Danny Cruz, joined Hackworth’s technical staff as an assistant coach in September.