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'Zero doubt'

CRAWFORD | LouCity FC confident that return of fans and return of goals will coincide

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It’s a strange situation for a coach. Louisville City FC has lost back-to-back games, but put on the video and there’s little to harp on. They’ve created far more chances than their opponents, but haven’t finished enough in either loss.

In its past two games, LouCity has outshot its opponents 41-11, but has been outscored 3-1. Interim head coach Danny Cruz is faced with the task of correcting the individual errors in execution or judgement while keeping the overall shape and attitude of the team where it is.

He should get a boost from the first capacity crowd in Lynn Family Stadium history on Saturday night when Memphis 901 FC visits at 7:30 p.m.

“The biggest thing for the group, trusting in our process, understanding that we are playing good football,” Cruz said as the team prepared to begin training at Champions Park on Thursday morning. “We have been happy for the majority moments of these games. Individual mistakes have cost us points, and not executing in the final third, but we are certainly creating chances and putting teams on their heels, especially here at Lynn Family, and I think the energy of the crowd is certainly something that our guys are looking forward to being back in front of. . . . There’s no panicking in that locker room. There’s certainly no panicking from me. It would be one thing if we were going out and for 90 minutes we were being outplayed. Then I need to look at making some changes, and look at myself first. But we’ve been doing a good job. We’ve been creating those chances. We just have to finish.”

For that reason, much of the preparation this week has been focused inward, instead of on Memphis. While there have been scouting sessions, Cruz has wanted his players working on their own technique.

LouCity is fifth in the Eastern Division with 89 shots attempted this season, but ranks 19th with just six goals scored. One of those teams that ranks below it — Memphis, has managed to put just four into the net this season.

“The focus has been on us, mostly,” defender Wes Charpie said. “A lot of playing, getting touches on the ball. We’re focusing on how they play and how we’re going to gear toward that. But mainly it’s on us and how we’re going to react to this weekend.”

Cruz is not concerned that the hype of the first full crowd any of these players have seen since late 2019 will obstruct from the lessons he’s been hoping to drive home this week.

“For us, it’s the furthest thing from a distraction,” he said. “The players are very much looking forward to it and have been for a very long time. The one thing I’m excited for is the guys who have been here from the very beginning. I think this is a special moment for the group, for the club, and we’re very excited to pack that place.”

One thing working for the home team is experience. You’re talking about a core of players that has seen just about everything, including a couple of in-season coaching changes.

Not much shakes the confidence of this team. A two-game losing streak is little more than a speed bump.

“This is an experienced group,” Cruz said. “This is a group that has been through everything, lost multiple games in a row, come back and won 13 in a row, won championships, lost in a final. They’ve been through everything. This is a small bump in the road. The last two weeks, obviously, we’ve been unhappy with the results. But when the guys come out to this field and you see the smiles on their faces and the effort they put in every day, there’s zero doubt in my mind that this is going to be turned around. There’s zero doubt in my mind that, come Saturday, they’re going to give everything they have. And when we do that, in this stadium, we are going to win games.”

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