King’s Cup Is Back On As Saint Louis FC Travels To Louisville City Wednesday In 3rd Round Of U.S. Open Cup
The King’s Cup is back on, at least for one game, as United Soccer League rivals Saint Louis FC and Louisville City FC will face each other this Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky. The match comes not as a USL regular season or playoff match, but in the 3rd round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Louisville beat the Long Island Rough Riders of the Premier Development League 5-0 last week in their opening match of the tournament.
The Chupacabras beat Duluth FC of the National Premier Soccer League 2-0 last week in their opening match.
The 3rd round of the Open Cup features five matchups between USL teams, including the one between STLFC and LCFC. A total of 15 USL teams are still alive in the tournament.
Kickoff Wednesday at Lynn Stadium in Louisville is set for 6 pm central. The game will be streamed through USsoccer.com. Here’s the direct link to watch Saint Louis FC vs Louisville City FC in the third round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. You can find more links, including one to stream the game on your mobile device here.
Scroll down for more on Wednesday’s matchup.
** UPDATE **
Shortly after this piece was published, Saint Louis FC announced the resigning of a fan-favorite. Forward Seth Rudolph is set to join the team for the rest of the 2018 season, pending the usual ” USL and U.S. Soccer Federation approval.”
Rudolph scored seven goals for STLFC last season. Check out Seth Rudolph highlights from the 2017 season below.
Where They Stand On The USL Table
Head coach James O’Connor has his club currently sitting in second place in the USL’s Eastern Conference with a record of 6-2-1 and 19 points. Five of the team’s six wins this season have come in its five home matches at Louisville Slugger Field.
Anthony Pulis and STLFC currently find themselves tied for seventh place with a record of 3-2-5 and 14 points. Colorado Springs, San Antonio and Reno 1868 all have 14 points each as well.
King’s Cup Renewed. . . For One Game At Least
Saint Louis FC and Louisville City FC both started play in the USL during the 2015 season. In the lead-up to the season, banter between supporters groups led to the creation of the King’s Cup.
The local St. Louligans and Louisville’s Coopers would bicker back and forth on social media and travel in large groups to St. Louis or Louisville for games between the clubs. During that first season, the clubs played each other four times during the regular season.
The groups also came together to raise $15,000 during a fundraiser called #PizzaGate that went to food banks in St. Louis and Louisville.
With the USL’s history of moving STLFC between conferences, the club has yet to be in the same conference for consecutive seasons, the rivalry hasn’t become what it promised to be during that first season.
Wednesday’s will be the only time the two clubs face each other this season, unless they match up in the 2018 USL Cup Final. In light of that, the two supporters groups have elected to have this week’s match determine where the King’s Cup Trophy will reside for the next year.
Rivalry Match With Cincinnati Looms Saturday For Louisville
After Wednesday, Saint Louis FC travels to Colorado to take on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. They will be without Pulis as well as captain Jonathan Barden as the coach and player were each suspended one game by the USL.
Louisville City heads northeast on Interstate 71 to take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati is currently in first place in the USL East, leading LCFC by one point.
Cincinnati.com recently called the Dirty River Derby, as fans call the rivalry between the clubs, the biggest rivalry in the USL.
It was during a game between the clubs last season that star FCC forward Dijiby Fall bit a LCFC player and was suspended for six games by the league. He was released by Cincinnati at the end of last season and has not been picked up by any other club in the world.
Former Teammates Pulis And O’Connor Will Be On Opposing Sidelines
James O’Connor and Anthony Pulis first met at a Super Bowl party in 2012. O’Connor had just signed with Orlando City, then playing in the USL, after playing nearly 500 matches in England for various clubs. During the tail-end of his time with Stoke City, O’Connor helped the club, and new manager Tony Pulis, stave off relegation from the English Premier League during the 2002-2003 season.
Anthony Pulis, the son of Tony Pulis, had also recently signed with Orlando City after playing in England. The pair would make 85 combined appearances for the club over the next three seasons.
That night, the pair became fast friends. They explained their friendship, which has included frequent golf outings during their time in Orlando, to the Courier-Journal in an article last year.
“He says it how it is and pulls no punches,” Pulis said Wednesday. “It’s actually quite similar to myself and that’s probably why we get along.”
O’Connor described Pulis first and foremost as a “really good friend,” but also as a “bright young coach.”
O’Connor and Pulis followed similar paths into coaching after retiring from playing. Both got their coaching feet wet with Orlando City before taking head coaching positions.
O’Connor became the first coach of Louisville City FC before the 2015 season when Orlando City essentially moved its USL team to Kentucky. Orlando City then essentially transitioned into a Major League Soccer Club. Louisville served as the USL affiliate of the Orlando City MLS side during the 2015 season.
Orlando City started a USL club of its own for the 2016 season, naming the younger Pulis the club’s first head coach.
Pulis, of course, signed on before this season to become the head coach in St. Louis.
Reynolds And Dacres Both Previously Played In Louisville
Saint Louis FC defender Sean Reynolds and midfielder Kadeem Dacres both have spent time on the pitch for the home side at Louisville Slugger Field.
Dacres made 49 appearances over the 2015-16 seasons. Reynolds made 40 appearances over the same two seasons.
What To Expect From Louisville City
With having last weekend to rest, the Chupacabras seemingly have the advantage in that category going into Wednesday’s match.
After being shut out in back-to-back matches, losing 1-0 to Indy Eleven and 2-0 to Nashville SC, Louisville City beat Atlanta United 2 by a score of 2-0 last Saturday. With the huge matchup looming Saturday in Cincinnati, who will see minutes for the “Boys In Purple” Wednesday?
In the Open Cup game last week, O’Conner had Cameron Lancaster on the bench until the 72nd minute. The 25-year old product of Tottenham Hotspur’s Academy program, is the leading scorer for the team in USL play and has started all seven USL games he’s played in this season.
George Davis IV, IIija IIic, Magnus Rasmussen and Luke Spencer all played significant minutes against Long Island, but aren’t among the team’s leaders in league minutes played.
What To Expect From Saint Louis FC
Against Duluth FC, Anthony Pulis gave starting spots to both Aedan Stanley and Jack Maher. Neither Acadamy player has been a regular starter as of late. In fact, Maher was seeing his first action with the senior club of the season.
Austin Ledbetter has played just one USL game this season, but saw significant time in Minnesota. One would expect him to also playing time Wednesday.
With Jonathan Barden suspended for Saturday’s match in Colorado, one would also expect him to play significant minutes on Wednesday.
The combination of Corey Hertzog and Kadeem Dacres worked out well in the first game of the 2018 Open Cup. The pair accounted for both STLFC goals, with Dacres scoring in the 25th minute on a pass from Hetzog and Hetzog scoring in the 35th minute on a pass from Dacres.
Four Games In 11 Days Coming Up For Saint Louis FC
Wednesday’s match will be the first of four in 11 days for the Chupacabras.
After playing Wednesday and then traveling to Colorado Springs on Saturday, the team returns to Toyota Stadium at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton for games against Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday, May 30 and the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday, June 2.
The match in Colorado will add something quite unique to this stretch, as the high altitudes can be a challenge for visiting players.
Should Wednesday’s contest end in the visitor’s favor, the fourth round Open Cup game would take place on June 6th. U.S. Soccer will draw for the fourth round Open Cup matchups this Thursday.
Toyota Stadium in St. Louis, rather than Toyota Park in Chicago, hosted the fourth round game between Saint Louis FC and MLS’s Chicago Fire last season. MLS teams enter the tournament in the fourth round each year.
Kirkwood Station Watch Party Set For Wednesday
The St. Louligans will host a watch party Wednesday night at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company in Kirkwood. The festivities will begin at 6 pm with the kickoff from Lynn Stadium on the University of Louisville campus.
Several Louligans will be traveling to Louisville for the game. They’ve apparently left some extra room in a car to bring something back.