Club decides not to submit MLS bid this year, while stadium plans are moving forward
United Soccer League outfit Louisville City FC has released its schedule for the 2017 season.
The league has expanded to 32 teams after the additions of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Ottawa Fury and Reno 1868, while Wilmington Hammerheads has dropped out.
It means that LouCity will play16 home and 16 road games, with the first clash taking place against St. Louis at Slugger Field on March 25. They will close the regular-season campaign against the Richmond Kickers on October 14, also at home.
LouCity coach and Dublin native James O’Connor said in a statement: “It gets a lot more real when you see the schedule. Now we just want to get the guys back in here and started. We have something to aim and plan for.”
A rematch against Eastern Conference final conqueror New York Red Bulls II is going to have to wait until June 10, while the schedule also includes a stretch in August and September which will see LouCity host five out of six games.
The top eight finishers from the USL Eastern and Western Conferences will again advance to the single-elimination playoffs. LouCity will be hoping to improve on last season’s second-place in the regular season, while the aim will be to make the league’s overall championship game for the first time.
New additions include Ireland’s Sean Russell, who joins from current League of Ireland First Division champions Limerick City. Dubliner Russell is the son of Martin Russell, current coach at Limerick.
Also new to the roster are Richmond Kickers midfield standout Brian Ownby (who started his professional career with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo); defensive-midfielder Sean Totsch, formerly of Rochester Rhinos, and Jamaican Devon “Speedy” Williams, who has spent the last two years with the New York Red Bulls II.
Meanwhile, LouCity recently confirmed that it intends building a minimum 10,000-seat capacity stadium in the city.
The club announced that it has hired architecture firm HOK to work on designing the development, which also includes plans for a retail and office district around the stadium.
The stadium will have the potential to be expanded to accommodate 20,000 fans.
Global architect firm HOK has designed Barcelona’s Palau Blaugrana and several other sports stadiums and arenas, including the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium and the $1.5 billion Atlanta Falcons/Atlanta United’s almost-completed Mercedes-Benz Stadium (which will host the 2019 Super Bowl).
“We’re getting closer to securing a lot in urban Louisville, and now we’re thinking about what we can build on it,” said Louisville City chairman John Neace in a press release.
Neace added that the club has narrowed down the location of the stadium to two sites in Louisville, just weeks after gauging the interest of such a plan in Jeffersonville and New Albany in Southern Indiana.
Louisville City hopes to eventually elevate to Major League Soccer status, the top tier of professional American soccer.
However, it has decided not to submit a bid this year. Tuesday’s deadline for submissions saw expansion bids by a number of teams, including Cincinnati, Nashville and Indianapolis.
MLS said it will announce its next two expansion teams in either the second or third quarter of 2017, while determining a later date for the next two expansion candidates. Successful teams will have to pay a $150 million expansion fee to join the league.
MLS, which currently stands at 22 teams with this year’s additions of Atlanta United and Minnesota United, will expand to 23 clubs in 2018, when Los Angeles FC is added. The league is in the process of concluding a deal in Miami for a stadium for an expansion club which is co-owned by former soccer star David Beckham.
Full schedule (Home games in bold): Saturday, March 25: Saint Louis FC (2 p.m.); Thursday, March 30: LouCity at Orlando City B; Saturday, April 8: LouCity at Richmond Kickers; Saturday, April 15: Tampa Bay Rowdies (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, April 22: LouCity at FC Cincinnati; Saturday, April 29: Toronto FC II (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, May 13: LouCity at Tampa Bay Rowdies; Saturday, May 20: LouCity at Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Saturday, June 3: LouCity at Charleston Battery; Wednesday, June 7: Charlotte Independence (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, June 10: LouCity at New York Red Bulls II; Saturday, June 17: Pittsburgh Riverhounds (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, June 24: LouCity at Harrisburg City Islanders; Saturday, July 1: Ottawa Fury FC (7:30 p.m.); Sunday, July 9: LouCity at Charleston Battery; Saturday, July 15: FC Cincinnati (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, July 22: LouCity at Saint Louis FC; Saturday, July 29: New York Red Bulls II (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Aug. 5: LouCity at Charlotte Independence; Saturday, Aug. 12: FC Cincinnati (7:30 p.m.); Sunday, Aug. 20: LouCity at Bethlehem Steel; Wednesday, Aug. 23: Harrisburg City Islanders (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Aug. 26: Orlando City B (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Sept. 2: Charleston Battery (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Sept. 9: LouCity at Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Friday, Sept. 15: Bethlehem Steel (7:30 p.m.); Wednesday, Sept. 20: Rochester Rhinos (7:30 p.m.); Sunday, Sept. 24: LouCity at Ottawa Fury; Wednesday, Sept. 27: LouCity at Toronto FC II; Saturday, Sept. 30: LouCity at Rochester Rhinos; Saturday, Oct. 7: Charlotte Independence (7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Oct. 14: Richmond Kickers (7:30 p.m.)