Die Innenstadt's Loisville corespondent Robert "Bobby" Grindesto recaps Loisville City FC's recent international friendly match and gives details on plans for our next trip down there.
The annual summer ritual of US soccer teams hosting international clubs is in full swing, with the likes of Manchester United, Valencia, and Swansea City making the trip this year. Not to be outdone, Louisville City joined in the fun by hosting international side Toronto FC 2 for a friendly at historic Slugger Field.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to show off our club and city to a major international team like everyone else does,” LCFC Chairman John Neace said. “With the diverse and unique collection of dining and entertainment options at 4th Street Live, we were really able to roll out the red carpet to our friends to the north.”
Louisville City coach James O’Conner explained the odd timing of a Tuesday afternoon match. “The timetable was a bit tricky with Toronto’s travel itinerary and my RadioShack schedule, but thankfully Stephen was able to take my opening shift if I closed for him. So 1pm worked for everyone.”
Toronto arrived Monday later than expected due to a GPS issue, and had to cancel their open training session. Apparently the bus driver did not understand why he was being directed to a baseball stadium and continued to circle downtown in search of a more reasonable venue. Even the players were confused as they stepped onto the field. “Why is there a hill in the middle of the pitch?” quipped Forward Shaan Hundal, referring to the pitcher’s mound “Weird. Must be an American thing.”
The cultural differences continued to emerge during warmups. “Is that a f*****g carousel?” asked a bewildered and excited Jelani Peters. Despite the unusual presence of the carnival ride, many TFC2 players enjoyed a turn on the merry-go-round in an attempt to embrace the ways of their American hosts.
Monday evening saw LCFC play host to their guests at the treasured Hard Rock Café, handpicked by VP Brad Estes. “Nothing is as internationally ubiquitous as the Hard Rock Café, so we knew our visitors would feel right at home.” The club and their guests feasted on a menu which included delicacies such as "Red Hot Chili Poppers" and "Kid Rock's Klassic Red Stag Kordial."
Matchday came with much fanfare, and a crowd of 3,624 enjoyed a thrilling 1-1 draw. Tensions rose in the 54th minute as the traveling Toronto fans unleashed dozens of streamers when Ricardo John slotted his shot past the LCFC keeper on the third base side to draw level. Outrage ensued between supporters groups and continued after the match on social media as 2 or 3 of the paper party decorations encroached the right field area. “Look at this!” exclaimed an irritated Delino DeShields. The Louisville Bats manager was annoyed at how the streamers impeded on the bullpens where his baseball club was still holding practice despite the soccer event.
That wasn't the only incident that sparked ire though. True to form, Coach O'Connor was critical of his opponents in a post-match interview. "We had to sit through not one, but two national anthems and to be quite honest, the red in the Canadian flags is distracting and dangerous."
Asked about their experience in a foreign land, TFC2 players were more curious than anything. “Why is everyone dressed up? Is Halloween on a different day in America?” inquired Anthony Osorio.
“I still don’t get this stadium. I’ve never seen those big yellow poles anywhere else,” remarked defender Brandon Onkony. After touring the site of the proposed new stadium in Loisville's Butchertown neighborhood he could only remark: "What the hell is that smell?”
The Toronto squad made a quick detour to RadioShack on their way to the Greyhound station, as midfielder Liam Fraser had misplaced his iPhone charger. “The Irish fella gave me a discount. Good guy. Looks a lot like the coach from earlier. Even had the same ugly beekeeper hat.”
If you missed out on this historic international friendly, don't fret! We'll be joining other FC Cincinnati supporters as we travel down to Loisville once again for an away match.
August 12 | 7:30 PM | Loisville Slugger Baseball Field
Tickets available here using code "FCC2017" to access the FC Cincinnati Supporters section in left field. Bring binoculars.