While most soccer leagues around the world are in the middle of the offseason, the USL Championship is entering into the dog days of summer. On Sunday, June 16th, the defending USL champions, Louisville City FC, will travel to Montclair, New Jersey to take on the New York Red Bulls 2. While Eastern Conference games have little interest for me (I am a Phoenix Rising FC season ticket holder), I find this match up to be particularly interesting.
In the past three seasons, it has been one of these two teams to lift the USL Cup at the end of the season. The NYRB 2 won the cup in 2016 when they defeated the Swope Park Rangers KC 5-1 at Red Bulls Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. In 2017, Louisville would beat the same Swope Park team to win their first title and would follow it up a year later with a victory over Phoenix Rising to win back to back titles. This season finds both teams behind Eastern Conference leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies with the Red Bulls sitting in second on 26 points and Louisville in 6th on 24 points.
Red Bulls 2 vs Louisville City FC Vital Information
This game can be watched on ESPN+ in the United States with kick-off scheduled for 3 PM Eastern time. It will be overseen by Elijio Arreguin in the center of the park with Amilcar Sicaju and Patrick Casey helping on the sidelines. Kevin Cavalcanti will be the fourth official.
Five Points That Shouldn’t be Overlooked
The head to head match up between these two clubs does not look good for the Red Bulls. In the past six meetings, Louisville City has won five and drawn one. During that run of games, the Red Bulls managed to score 10 goals but gave up 20 to Louisville City. With the current run of form of both teams, I would imagine that we could see this differential increase on Sunday.
The biggest loss for Louisville City this past offseason was the departure of Cameron Lancaster. The Englishman played 79 games for Louisville City from 2015 to 2018 and racked up 36 goals. On December 20th, 2018, Nashville SC announced that Lancaster would be the second signing for their MLS expansion team and would spend 2019 on loan to the current Nashville USL team, Nashville FC. Magnus Rasmussen has been the one to step up to fill the hole left by Lancaster. He has scored six goals in 13 games, averaging a goal every 2.2 games; which is the equivalent of Lancaster’s average.
The scoring of the Red Bulls this year has been equally impressive. They have scored at least one goal in their last 8 home games and have scored 8 goals in their last 3 games. Their leading goal scorer is Jared Stroud who has scored five goals in 13 games this year. Mathias Jorgensen has netted 4 times for the Red Bulls this year and has also seen some time with their MLS side. With both teams firing on all cylinders on the offensive side of the field, I would imagine that this could be a high scoring game.
Looking at the run of form for each team it is unlikely that we will see a draw. It has been four games for each team since either last drew and you’d have to go back to June of 2018 for the last draw between the two clubs. These are two teams that love to score goals and there is no reason to think that either will sit back on Sunday. The Red Bulls will look to retain the second position in the East while putting pressure on Tampa Bay, and Louisville is going to want to rise above the congestion at the top of the table.
This will be an important win for New York. They will soon begin a three-game road trip and while they can win on the road it is never an easy task. A victory over Louisville City could help give them some cushion as well as propel the team into a road trip that could see them earn maximum points in each game. They will start the road trip against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC before traveling to Nashville and then to the Charleston Battery.
Red Bulls 2 vs Louisville City FC Prediction
This could be a very fun game to watch for the neutral. Two highly offensive teams going at each other for ninety minutes. The history between these two clubs has created a rivalry that is not confined to location or distance. I am hoping for a thrilling open soccer game that ends in a 4-3 victory for Louisville City.
Prediction: Louisville City 4 - Red Bulls II 3