LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Real Monarchs SLC opened the night on the wrong end of a piece of USL Championship Final history.
It ended by making history of its own.
Goals by Erik Holt, Konrad Plewa and Noah Powder sent the Monarchs to a 3-1 victory against Louisville City FC in the 2019 USL Championship final Sunday night before a sellout crowd of 7,025 fans at Lynn Stadium, making the side the first road team to claim victory in the competiion’s history.
Hosts Louisville, aiming for a third consecutive league title on home turf, flew out of the gates and took the lead in just the sixth minute, the fastest goal in the game’s history. A quick passing move shifted possession to Niall McCabe on the left side of the penalty area and his low cross through the six-yard area was met by Magnus Rasmussen, who recorded his 17th goal of the season from close range to send the majority of the crowd on hand into celebrations.
Three minutes later LouCity almost added to its lead as a lifted ball over the Monarchs’ back line found Antoine Hoppenot for a first-time volley that went just wide of the right post, and in the 14th minute Brian Ownby also threatened, his low shot to the bottom-right corner tipped just wide by Real goalkeeper David Ochoa as the visitors struggled to settle in.
Hoppenot had another chance for the hosts on a header that went just wide of the left post in the 22nd minute, but then the tide began to turn in favor of the visitors. The Monarchs equalized with 25 minutes gone when Powder picked up possession on the right, sent the ball back to Jack Blake 25 yards from goal, and the midfielder’s square pass to the top of the penalty area was met by a first-time shot from Holt that picked out the bottom-right corner of the net.
Powder almost put the Monarchs ahead in the final minute of the first half as he launched a spectacular effort from 30 yards that Louisville goalkeeper Chris Hubbard just turned wide of the right post, but from the ensuing corner kick, Real was able to hold possession in the attacking third and Luke Mulholland’s cross from the left picked out Plewa for a headed finish that put the visitors ahead at the break.
Louisville came out brightly to start the second half as it looked to get back on level terms and five minutes after the break Ownby had a chance that was saved by Ochoa after a give-and-go with McCabe. Ownby and Rasmussen also had chances minutes apart around the hour-mark, but as the game drew on it became more stretched and offered the Monarchs chances to break on the counterattack.
A fine ball by Maikel Chang that played in former University of Louisville standout Tate Schmitt almost provided a third for Real in the 65th minute only for Schmitt to get closed down by Hubbard before Kyle Coffee’s shot as the ball bounced loose was deflected over the crossbar.
A minute later, though, Powder struck as he cut into the penalty area from the right side and unleashed a low, left-footed shot that skipped into the bottom-left corner of the net to give the Monarchs their two-goal advantage.
From there, the Monarchs midfield and defense took over as while Louisville ended the night with 22 shots and seven on goal, the hosts were unable to find many clear looks to challenge U.S. U-20 international Ochoa in the Monarchs’ net. Blake almost added a fourth for the visitors on a breakaway in second-half stoppage time, but it was rendered moot as soon after the final whistle blew, ending LouCity’s reign at the top of the Championship as the Monarchs rose to take the throne.
USL Championship Final Man of the Match
Konrad Plewa, Real Monarchs SLC – Plewa scored what proved to be the winning goal for the visitors and helped lead a back line that provided staunch resistance as Louisville tried to rally in the final 20 minutes.