Didier Drogbas illustrious career ended in defeat on Thursday night as Phoenix Rising fell to Louisville City in the USL Cup final.
A second-half goal from Louisville Citys Luke Spencer was just enough on Thursday night as Drogba and Phoenix fell 1-0 in the Ivorians final match.
Video: USL CUP HIGHLIGHTS #LOUvPHX | 11-08-2018
Louisville City FC wins second straight USL Cup
Drogba scored three goals in three matches to help lead Phoenix to the final, including a stunning free kick in the teams postseason opener.
The former Chelsea star had announced that he would retire back in March, calling an end to a career that has also seen stops at Le Mans, Guingamp, Marseille, Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray and the Montreal Impact.
The defeat marks the end of Drogbas trophy-filled career, which included four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Super Lig crown, and, most memorably, the 2011-12 Champions League that saw the Ivorian score a late equalizer before winning the title with Cheslea in a penalty shootout.
Video: Phoenix Rising USL Cup Final Watch Party
If there was any doubt…@didierdrogbas still got it. pic.twitter.com/gUMXfXKkez — USL (@USL) November 9, 2018Drogba scored 10 goals in 14 games in his debut season in the U.S. second tier before scoring five goals in nine regular season games this campaign. On Thursday, the first half finished level before the hosts finally broke through in the 62nd minute, firing home from a scramble in front of goal following a corner kick.
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After several deflections, blocks and near-finishes, the ball finally fell to Spencer, who fired a shot into the bottom corner to give Louisville City the lead.
A set piece and @luke_spenc do the [email protected] are ahead in the 2018 #USLCup!#LOUvPHX | #USLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/6aL72B8fY4 — USL (@USL) November 9, 2018The victory saw Louisville City capture the teams second consecutive league crown after topping Swope Park Rangers in the USL Cup finale in 2017. Article continues below Phoenix Rising, which counts Drogba as one of several owners, was playing in its first final.
Louisville City FC used a 62nd-minute goal from Luke Spencer to beat Phoenix Rising FC for its second consecutive USL Cup. Spencer was one of three players who were thrust into player-coach roles for a few weeks during the season.
Joseph Dickerson will be the center official for the contest, bringing experience from both Major League Soccer and the USL to the game. Dickerson previously officiated this year’s USL Cup Playoffs contest between Sacramento Republic FC and the Swope Park Rangers in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The match, played this year at Lynn Stadium on the University of Louisville campus, was broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Phoenix Rising FC features world-renowned Didier Drogba, who played for nearly 10 seasons with Chelsea of the Premier League.
The 2018 USL Cup is set to kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night, with the game being broadcast live on ESPN2 in the United States, ESPN International in more than 50 countries around the world, the USL YouTube Channel elsewhere overseas, and followed live via the USL Match Center.
John Hackworth took over as Louisville City coach in early August after James O'Connor left for a job in the MLS. Hackworth went 12-4-2 with the team and knew early on that he had a pretty special group.
"We had a couple of moments where it was testy, but credit to them because they wanted to be pushed," said Hackworth. "They wanted to be coached. Every time we challenged them they said what more. It's just fantastic. Storybook, fairy-tale, it's just fantastic."
Louisville City FC is the first back-to-back champion in USL history and second team to win two USL Cups, joining Orlando City, which won it in 2011 and 2013.