Home Playoff Game: Memphis 901 FC vs. Louisville City preview
Rivalry games can be based on many things. Geography tends to be one of the biggest factors but it’s far from the only one. Sometimes a rivalry can develop just because of the way the meetings between the teams have played out. In other cases, meetings between teams in playoff games or series ramp up the tension. In still other cases, online mudslinging can play a part. Memphis vs. Louisville was one of the most bitter rivalries in college basketball for the longest time with decade long wars between the likes of Denny Crum and Dana Kirk plus Rick Pitino and John Calipari. That Memphis and Louisville was going to become a rivalry in the USL Championship was always a forgone conclusion. It was just a question of when it would really get going.
For the first two and half years, Louisville City owned Memphis 901 FC. Not only did they win almost every game, but they usually did so by multiple goals both at home and in Memphis. That finally began to change in the second half of the 2021 season and then in 2022 momentum in the rivalry completely swung in 901 FC’s favor. Perhaps the turning point in the rivalry was when, in September of 2022, Memphis 901 FC went on the road to Louisville City and found a winner in stoppage time that so incensed the Louisville players, chaos broke out and resulted in three players being sent off at the final whistle.
The momentum carried into this season for the Beale Street Boys as in two meeting against Louisville they didn’t lose. First was a 1-1 home draw against a Louisville City team that featured 18-year-old Joshua Wynder not too long before he made the move to Portuguese giant Benfica. The return trip to Louisville saw Memphis earn a 3-1 win in which Nighte Pickering and Rodrigo Da Costa scored goals as well as Laurent Kissiedou forcing an own goal out of Louisville defender Owen Damm.
With this game starting to take on greater significance it seemed only logical that it would be these two teams battling the last few weeks of the season to see who would finish in fourth place and earn the right to host the other in a home playoff game. Memphis had the turning point of their season against Tampa on September 6th with a 3-2 win in stoppage time. They followed that up with wins over Hartford, Tampa (again) and El Paso (as well as a road draw with the Birmingham Legion). Louisville City on the other hand, faded down the stretch. They went winless in their final three games and won just once in their final five games (a 2-1 win over a Loudoun United team that finished in 11th place out of 12 teams in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs.)
Saturday evening marks a huge opportunity for Memphis 901 FC. Not only is it their third straight playoff appearance, and second straight year with a home playoff game, but it is also a chance to make history. Since Louisville City joined the USL Championship in 2015, they have gone to the Eastern Conference Final every single season of their existence. That’s eight straight Eastern Conference Final appearances. Memphis 901 FC has the opportunity to end that streak and win a home playoff game for the second straight season.
Date: Saturday, October 21, 2023
Venue: AutoZone Park
City: Memphis, Tennessee
Time: 5:30pm CT
TV: WMC 5.2, ESPN+
Tickets: Single Game Tickets
Memphis 901 FC trails 3-6-2
Date: Saturday, June 10, 2023
Venue: Lynn Family Stadium
City: Louisville, Kentucky
Result: Memphis 901 FC 3-1 Louisville City
Memphis 901 FC: 4th in East
Louisville City: 5th in East
Photo Credit: D’Angelo Connell Photography
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