Nashville SC US Soccer

US Open Cup preview: Q&A with Danielle Lerner of the Louisville Courier-Journal

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Last time out.

Nashville SC and Louisville City FC are no strangers: they’ve already played twice this season. What’s the latest with the Boys in Purple? I asked Danielle Lerner of the Louisville Courier-Journal for the update on LCFC.

For Club and Country: Louisville has been really banged up this year. Are they taking US Open Cup games lightly to try to get guys healthy for USL play, or running out a first-team lineup for each game?

Danielle Lerner: I wouldn’t say they are taking the Open Cup games lightly, but the lineups have not been consistent with the Starting XI for league matches. That’s due in large part to the considerable number of international players on the squad and the Open Cup’s limitation to five internationals. For example, second-string goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski has started each tournament match because leaving first-stringer Greg Ranjitsingh (a Trinidad and Tobago international) off the roster opens up a slot. The injuries have certainly also taken a toll, so I would expect Wednesday’s lineup to look different, particularly up top, than both past Open Cup games and USL games.

FCAC: On that note, which key players are expected to be healthy (and which out) for the game?

DL: Strikers Luke Spencer and Cameron Lancaster remain out with injuries. Reserve midfielder/ forward Richard Ballard is still out as well. Ilija Ilic got his sixth start of the season at forward Saturday against Penn FC and was magnificent with two goals and one assist.

FCAC: The Lynn venue seems to be one that LCFC plays well in. What’s the atmosphere like there, and what should Nashville be expecting in comparison to Slugger?

DL: Lynn Stadium is a well-maintained facility, and Louisville City definitely benefits from playing on a soccer-specific pitch as opposed to at Slugger Field. Some might say they have an advantage at Slugger Field over visiting teams who aren’t familiar with the turf/grass mixture, but I’m not sure there’s truth to that. Attendance for the weeknight Open Cup games at Lynn has been so-so but increasing every match. The smaller venue (capacity of about 5,300) also makes it feel fuller and the atmosphere for the New England game felt very rowdy.

FCAC: These teams have split 2-0 games, with each winning on its home field. What is Louisville’s attitude heading into the third of (at least) four editions of this rivalry matchup this season? Are they building some animosity to their fellow Southern brethren?

DL: I don’t think this is one of those rivalries that has real animosity yet – Louisville has Cincinnati for that. Maybe that will change when FCC leaves for MLS. Assistant coach Daniel Byrd said last week that Louisville is confident heading into another Nashville match, but that the confidence doesn’t necessarily stem from familiarity with the opponent. I do think Louisville City feels more pressure to a) continue their history-making Open Cup run and b) get a win after two frustrating draws in a row.

FCAC: What lineup are the Boys in Purple likely to roll out? Any other specific predictions for the match?

DL: I have a hunch James O’Connor will try to recreate the same lineup he used in the New England game on Wednesday. Louisville City could feasibly field a nearly identical lineup just by replacing Lancaster with Ilic. The bench will be one short without Spencer, but Magnus Rasmussen could sub in as a forward, Niall McCabe as a midfielder, Shaun Francis as a defender and Chris Hubbard at keeper.

Many many thanks to Danielle for taking the time to chat about LCFC. Read her work in the Courier-Journal, and slide her a Twitter follow for more updates on the team.

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