Cameron Lancaster out for Louisville City FC in USL Cup final

Cameron Lancaster out for Louisville City FC in USL Cup final

LouCity FC wins back-to-back USL Cup titles

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.

A product of the Tottenham academy, he was in the same youth side as Harry Kane. In January 2012, he made his Premier League debut under Harry Redknapp and came on for Emmanuel Adebayor in a 3-1 win over Wigan. He was set for stardom but snapped his groin off the bone soon after and spent a year trying to get back. When he did manage to complete the rehab, he did his anterior cruciate ligament and was released in 2014. He drifted down the league ladder but the US gave him a lifeline and he’s been crucial to Louisville’s success in the past two seasons.    

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.

“I feel like I’ve been in good form and I scored twice against Indy in the first round of the play-offs. We played James Chambers’ team – Bethlehem Steel – in the next round and I set one up in that game and then set another up in the Conference final against New York so I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been new for me and there’s a lot more on the defensive side than what I was used to playing as a true 10. But I’ve got the engine to get there and back so John likes me there and the mobility I can give.”

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. 

Whats cool about this is the ability to do the REMI show is, it has built the dedication and the following and the understanding of the league and our players, says Baker, who oversees USL Productions and plays a key role in the leagues broadcast standards and partnerships. Three or four years ago, if [USL Cup] was a one-off event on ESPN2, youd get some interested soccer people and a few stragglers. But, because every game has been available to every fan via ESPN+, you have a dedicated audience that is knowledgeable about the players and the product.

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.

Its REMI production on a level that, as far as we know, no one in the world is doing consistently, says Baker. Theres no blueprint to work from. Were designing it as we go. You are definitely going to encounter some challenges. In an age of IFBs and Internet and hybrid transmission, you have to overcome those along the way. But I give all of the credit in the world to Vista for creating an infrastructure that is extraordinarily robust and solid. I give all of the credit in the world to ESPN+.

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.

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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. 

TAMPA, Fla. – The Professional Referees Organization has announced the officiating assignments for the 2018 USL Cup between Eastern Conference champion Louisville City FC and Western Conference champion Phoenix Rising FC on Thursday night at Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

"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." 

@LouCityFC advanced to its second consecutive USL Cup with a 5-1 win against the New York Red Bulls II last Friday night in the Eastern Conference Final as Speedy Williams scored a pair of goals and Brian Ownby had one goal and two assists to lead the hosts to victory. Ownby’s goal was his third of this postseason and gave the attacking midfielder six goals over the past two postseasons overall. Louisville’s win was its 10th in a row all-time at home in the USL Cup Playoffs, and its ninth consecutive victory in a streak that began on Sept. 19 against Penn FC and has run through the end of the 2018 regular season and into the postseason, but the side could be without 2018 USL Golden Boot-winner Cameron Lancaster, who suffered an early injury in the game against the Red Bulls II and was substituted after only 13 minutes.

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.

@PHXRisingFC earned its first silverware in the club’s history – and its first trip to the USL Cup – last Saturday night as it took a 2-1 victory against No. 1-seed Orange County SC behind goals from Chris Cortez and Drogba to earn the Western Conference crown. Cortez’s goal after 66 seconds was the fastest in USL Cup Playoffs history, while Drogba has scored in each of Phoenix’s first three playoff outings to sit level with Ownby and Orange County’s Michael Seaton for the most goals this postseason. Rising FC’s win on the road against Orange County was its 10th away victory of the 2018 campaign, and should it take victory against Louisville it would become the first visiting team to claim the USL Cup in the championship game’s history.

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