Sometimes you’re at a sporting event, and you just feel sorry for one of the teams involved. I remember watching Louisville football drop 70 points on Cincinnati in 2004, and as much as I hate the Bearcats, you just hoped it would end.
Friday night’s Louisville Lightning game was that type of game. The Lightning hosted AAFC in the US Open Cup, a season-long tournament involving teams from the Professional Arena Soccer League, as well as other leagues. Indianapolis-based AAFC pulled a massive upset in the tournament’s round of 16, taking down the Detroit Waza to set up a meeting with the Lightning in the quarterfinals. Detroit was short-handed in their contest, but AAFC’s win was surprising to nearly everyone.
Before the game started, you got a sense that this was going to be a one-sided match. With all due respect to AAFC, they didn’t look like a team capable of competing with a PASL team, which left everyone baffled as to how they upset the Detroit Waza.
On the other bench, Lightning coach Ted Nichols was ready to field a full squad of the usual starters. The Lightning need wins, and they’ll take them regardless of the opponent. In addition to stars such as Safet Kovacevic and Kolby Lacrone, the Lightning also had the services of Simon Bird. When he’s not suiting up for the Lightning, Bird is an assistant coach for U of L’s men’s team, which made its historic run to the NCAA National Championship last month. Bird missed most of the early part of the season while he was with the Cards.
The two teams were nearly even in the opening minutes, with AAFC actually scoring first, but Louisville built a 12-2 lead by halftime.
Mariano Gonzalez led the way with four goals on the night, and the lead ballooned to 15 by the third quarter. The Lightning went on to win 23-5.
Louisville now travels to Detroit for a league meeting with the Waza, then returns home on Jan. 22 to face the Cincinnati Kings.