The New York Red Bulls II are coming home after falling to Louisville City FC for the second straight season in the Eastern Conference final.
This time, LCFC did not need penalty kicks to advance, soundly beating NYRBII in regulation 5-1.
Former NYRBII player Devon “Speedy” Williams’ brace pushed the game out of reach after NYRBII nearly pulled themselves back from a 2-0 halftime deficit. Defensive errors cost NYRBII dearly on the night, after a month of stellar play from the backline.
Louisville City FC rout Red Bulls on the way to the USL Cup Final
NYRBII had an opportunity to take the lead in the 16th minute. A foul on Jared Stroud in the box led to a penalty kick. Chris Lema stepped up to take the kick, but he slipped on the poor surface at Slugger Field and put his attempt well over the net. NYRBII’s bad luck was an early sign of things to come.
Six minutes later, LCFC took the lead on a more successful penalty kick of their own. Andrew Tinari fouled Ilija Ilic on a corner kick, leading to the PK call. Ilic stepped up to the spot and buried his attempt as Evan Louro guessed the wrong way.
LCFC increased their lead in the 32nd minute. A quick counter attack saw Brian Ownby streaking down the left wing. His early cross evaded Kevin Politz and Louro on its way to Luke Spencer. Spencer took a touch then buried his shot from a tight angle.
NYRBII had not conceded two goals in a match for the first time since their 3-3 draw with Toronto FC II.
In the second half, NYRBII finally pulled a goal back. Tom Barlow once again found the back of the net in Louisville. Ethan Kutler served a cross from the right wing and Barlow deftly headed the ball passed Greg Ranjitsingh in the 60th minute.
Former NYRBII player Devon “Speedy” Williams extended LCFC’s lead in the in the 73rd minute. Beating the offside trap, “Speedy” slipped into the box and fired his shot to the far post. Two minutes later, “Speedy” doubled his tally, scoring an audacious goal from outside the 18-yard box.
Brian Ownby put the final nail in NYRBII’s coffin, scoring a fifth in the 81st minute. After struggling to score during the regular season, Ownby now has three goals in the playoffs.
NYRBII head home full of disappointment. Despite the end result, there is still a lot to admire within this group of players. Louisville City will host next week’s final taking on the winner of Phoenix Rising FC and Orange County SC.
Man of the match
Brian Ownby scored the final goal, but his two assists earlier in the match made sure NYRBII watch the USL Cup final from home next week. Ownby’s playoff form keeps moving LCFC towards a second consecutive championship.