LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Landon Donovan came into Lynn Family Stadium for Saturday’s matchup against Louisville City FC dressed for success. The former U.S. Men's National Team star — now the manager and executive vice president of the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club — sported a blazer and sharp orange scarf on an 84-degree evening in Butchertown.
By halftime, Donovan had lost his blazer. By the end of regulation, he had lost his head. And by the end of stoppage time, he and San Diego had lost the game, 2-1, before a COVID-restricted crowd of 7,652.
The victory was the first of interim coach Danny Cruz’s LouCity tenure, and the eventual game winner was an 88th-minute immaculate connection by newcomer Kyle Greig, who scored in just his eighth minute in purple after being acquired just two days ago. Greig deposited the ball from the center of the box after a sliding effort (into San Diego keeper Trey Muse, in Donovan’s opinion) kept the attempt alive.
The game featured a bit of everything, including skirmishes between Louisville and San Diego throughout. There was something of a scrum between the sides before they left the field at the half, and a heated Donovan received a red card as regulation ended. By the time the final whistle had blown, LouCity was tagged for 16 fouls to San Diego’s 11.
Cruz said he wasn’t sure what the scuffle at the end of the half was about.
"All I was focused on was getting our guys out of there," Cruz said. "I didn’t know what happened. I wanted us to make sure to get to the room so that we could work toward the solutions from the first half. And I didn’t need a red card. So I was just focused on our group, and said, 'Get out of here.'"
LouCity by and large controlled its emotions — and much of the match — holding possession for 59% and outshooting the visitors 20-11, including 10-5 in shots on target.
"Really proud of the group. The atmosphere was unbelievable. Really happy for Kyle,” Cruz said. "... For Cam (Lancaster) to get a goal, that’s big. You have two forwards getting a goal, three points, I’m really proud of the group collectively."
Cruz said getting his first win was, "Pretty special. Obviously, it’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks, but that locker room has been fantastic. We had a really good week of training, and felt really good about our preparation. ... For me, it’s something I’ll never forget, in front of this group of fans, for this club. It’s something I’ll never forget."
Cameron Lancaster opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time on a penalty kick, after Napo Matsoso was tripped in the box. His effort was blocked by Muse, the outstanding collegiate keeper for Indiana and a Louisville native, but Lancaster stayed after the rebound and buried it for his first score of the young season.
"I thought it was a clear penalty," Cruz said. "Cam did a great job to finish it. A little bit fortunate it bounces back to him but go up a goal. Felt we probably deserved a goal before that. Thought we had control of the game other than some transitional moments."
San Diego had a couple of excellent opportunities early in the second half, but a header from Jack Ashworth was just off, and a 25-yard shot from former LouCity player Charlie Adams just grazed over the top of the bar. Another opportunity with 18 minutes left saw a nice pass from Jack Blake sent wide of the goal by Corey Hertzog.
Just when it looked as if Greig’s late goal had ended the drama, Blake scored on a long-distance scorcher just under the crossbar in the first minute of stoppage time.
"There at the end late — not a goal that you can concede," Cruz said. "I expect a little bit more pressure on the ball. I expect our goalkeeper to make the save from the distance that it was at. But ultimately, you walk away with three points so we’re happy."
Louisville improved to 2-0-1 on season with the victory. San Diego fell to 0-4-0.
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