LOUISVILLE, Ky. – All eyes will be on the Bluegrass State on Sunday night for the final game of the domestic soccer season in the United States as Louisville City FC and Real Monarchs SLC square off in the USL Championship final.
A sellout crowd of more than 7,000 is expected to pack Lynn Stadium to see if LouCity can become the first club to win three league titles in league history or if the Monarchs can spoil the party for the hosts and lift the trophy in their first trip to the title game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
After prevailing on home turf in each of the last two postseasons, LouCity has faced a more arduous road to reach its third consecutive final, needing a stoppage-time equalizer from Antoine Hoppenot last Saturday night against Indy Eleven to send the Eastern Conference final to extra time before earning a 3-1 victory at Michael A. Carroll Stadium.
Louisville has never lost a home postseason match, earning a victory against the Swope Park Rangers in 2017 and Phoenix Rising FC in 2018 in its two previous Championship finals. Eight players in Louisville’s squad competed in that 2017 triump, while 11 current players saw action in last season’s final.
The Monarchs are the latest challenger to that record and arrive in Louisville having posted one major road upset this postseason. Real eliminated regular season title-winner Phoenix Rising FC in the Western Conference semifinals before returning home to edge past El Paso Locomotive FC in a 2-1 victory after extra time last Saturday in the conference final.
Winners of the 2017 regular season crown, the Monarchs have won the second-most games across the regular season and playoffs of any side in the Championship the past three seasons (55), one more than their Sunday hosts. The Monarchs, however, must overcome both the absence of sus[emded leading scorer Douglas Martinez (suspension) and the Championship final’s history that has seen the host take victory on all eight previous occasions.
Players to watch
Louisville City FC
Oscar Jimenez, defender – Named to the USL Championship All-League first team for the first time in his career, Jimenez has been a key playmaker for Louisville from open play and set pieces. His 92 chances created ranked third in the league as he recorded seven assists.
Magnus Rasmussen, midfielder – Louisville’s second selection on the USL Championship All-League first team, Rasmussen became the fifth player to lead LouCity in goal-scoring over its five seasons. The Danish attacking midfielder has recorded 16 goals across the regular season and playoffs, including two game-winning goals this postseason.
Real Monarchs SLC
David Ochoa, goalkeeper – Set to be the youngest starter in Sunday’s game at 18-years-old, the U.S. Under-20 international goalkeeper is among the brightest young players in the country. In addition to 19 appearances for the Monarchs this season, Ochoa also competed at the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer and is eligible for the next edition of the tournament in 2021.
Jack Blake, midfielder – The Monarchs’ captain has come up with big moments this postseason, leading Real with three goals while guiding a central midfield triumvirate that also features veteran Luke Mulholland and Justin Portillo. Teaming up with Cuban winger Maikel Chang, the English attacking midfielder could have a major impact Sunday.