Memphis 901 FC eliminated in penalty shootout to Louisville City
It took 32 seconds for Memphis to find the back of the net.
Akeem Ward whipped a ball into the box, targeting Bruno Lapa marked by a sole Louisville defender. A favorable bounce into Lapa’s chest was all that was needed, giving Memphis the lead with the second-fastest goal in USL Championship playoff history. Thirteen seconds is the record, set in 2019 by New Mexico United (who also ended up losing).
A LouCity equalizer and 120 minutes of scrappy soccer later, Memphis found themselves in a penalty shootout with the season on the line. The tenth penalty taker would be the first to miss – Aiden McFadden’s attempt hitting the right post while sending the goalkeeper the other way.
“Everyone that was on the pitch wanted to take one,” head coach Stephen Glass said. “Someone’s going to miss and unfortunately for Aiden it was him. There’s no blame attached to it at all.”
Louisville will get to host a playoff game of their own after Detroit City upset the one-seeded Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Birmingham Legion were able to complete the trifecta of Eastern conference upsets, beating the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a dominant fashion.
After a three-game stretch with a clean injury report, it was a surprise to see Luiz Fernando and Rodrigo da Costa listed before the match. Without the top two scorers at the club, Glass went with Nighte Pickering, Jeremy Kelly and Laurent Kissiedou – the trio combining for five total shots.
Possession was hard to come by when either team tried to venture out from the back. Aaron Molloy and Leston Paul anchored the midfield for 901 FC while the back line cleared any danger from open play. Memphis often went with the direct route offensively, skipping the midfield entirely with lofted balls over the top from their center backs.
Louisville’s only goal came from a set piece in the 18th minute. A corner kick by Carlos Moguel found Cameron Lancaster, the all-time leading scorer for the club, who scored with a first-time strike.
“A pretty well worked set piece to be fair,” Glass said. “We’ve scored a few of them ourselves and you hold your hands up when they do it to you.”
The visitors came into the second half with a more defensive mindset, letting Memphis control the ball and pace of play. The visitors did go to their bench first – making three substitutions before 901’s first – which gave them a brief offensive surge. Sanchez was called to action, punching a ball away inside a crowded box.
Memphis had an opportunity to take the lead in the 90th minute, a Laurent Kissiedou shot bouncing off the goalkeeper and creating chaos. Neither Pickering or Lapa were able to get control of the loose ball, which was eventually cleared. In extra time, a shot from Dylan Borczak clanged off the right post.
The game felt destined to go to penalties with Memphis ultimately coming up short.
Photo Credit: D’Angelo Connell Photography
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