After a hard fought 90 minute battle with Phoenix Rising, Louisville City became the first team in the modern USL era to defend their title.
Luke Spencer found the game’s lone goal in the 62nd minute, giving Louisville a 1-0 victory over Phoenix at Cindy Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.
Both teams were without their leading goalscorers with Cameron Lancaster and Chris Cortez since both were injured in each side’s Conference Final game.
In the first half, neither team had many chances to find a breakthrough. The sides fought out a scrappy 45 minutes with neither team finding control of the game. The second half felt like more of the same right out of the gates with few moments in the opening 15 minutes seeing few open chances.
In the 62nd minute, the home side found their goal through their leader. A corner came into the center of the box for Louisville and the ball bounced around the six-yard box without being cleared. The ball fell right to the feet of Luke Spencer who was able to slide home the winner for Louisville City.
Phoenix applied a lot of pressure in the last half hour of the game but never found a great moment to level the score. At the end of the match, Brian Ownby was able to counter and nearly found the second. But a gritty 90 minutes ended 1-0 for Louisville to become the 2018 USL Cup Champions.
Man of the Match
Another sound defensive performance from Louisville and another clean sheet. That was helped by another dominant performance from Paco Craig. The defender allowed few chances from Phoenix and held Didier Drogba goalless for the first time in a USL playoff match.
Moment of the Match
The goal was the deciding factor in this game and was all the home side needed to lift the cup again. It was not a pretty moment and certainly not the best goal that Louisville has scored this season but it will be the one that matters most.
Match to Forget
For the first time in a USL playoff match, Drogba did not find the back of the net and for most of the game, he could not find his boots. The Ivorian striker had many set-piece opportunities to make a difference on but rarely even put one on frame. The legendary striker will not want to think about this one.