For many players who compete over the summer in USL League Two, the amateur league is a chance for a change of scenery but for Reading United defender Lamine Conte playing Louisville City in the U.S. Open Cup will mean a trip back to the campus where he plays his college soccer.
“I know the field, I know the environment but I know that they are a professional team so we’re going to have to be sharper,” Conte said after the first round win over his former club, Philadelphia Lone Star last week. “If we win that it’s going to be a massive win for the whole organization.”
While Louisville City plays its league games at Louisville Slugger Field, the Cardinals home field, Lynn Stadium, will host Wednesday night’s second round Open Cup match.
Conte, who is originally from Guinea, transferred to the University of Louisville last fall from the University of Mobile and was part of the team that won the program’s first ACC Championship. The rising senior was hurt and didn’t play in a recent friendly against Louisville City.
His Reading United and former Philadelphia Union Academy teammate Kalil ElMedkhar did, however, play in a recent friendly between the USL Championship side and the University of Kentucky.
“They’re obviously a really good team, a pro side so it should definitely be a good test to see where we’re at compared to a team like that,” ElMedkhar said after last week’s win over Philadelphia Lone Star.
ElMedkhar was in the Union Academy when Louisville City’s head coach, John Hackworth, was the head coach of the first team and Hackworth’s current assistant, Danny Cruz, played for the first team. ElMedkhar said he didn’t realize Cruz was coaching at Louisville City until he shook hands with him after the recent friendly.
“He definitely doesn’t remember me but I remember him,” ElMedkhar said.
Reading United’s Kentucky connections include first-year assistant coach Charlie Reymann, who was a roommate and teammate of current City midfielder Napo Matsoso at the University of Kentucky. A former Reading United and Bethlehem Steel FC defender, Reymann is excited to be back with the Reading organization on head coach Alan McCann’s staff and back in the second round of the Open Cup against a team he played in a friendly with UK ahead of their inaugural season in USL.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Reymann said. “Louisville City makes teams work in the USL so they’re going to make us work as well.”
If they are able to find a way to knock off the two-time defending USL champions, Reading United will return home to face the winner of Birmingham Legion and West Chester United at Gurski Stadium in West Lawn, Pa.
Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. eastern time on ESPN+*
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