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LouCity gets opening night win over Atlanta United 2

Paolo DelPiccolo found the back of the net in the 69th and 87th minutes of a 2-0, opening night victory over Atlanta United 2

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It seemed like only a matter of time Saturday night for a Louisville City FC side that out-shout, out-possessed and generally out-played visiting Atlanta United 2. Then the largest crowd in Lynn Family Stadium’s brief history got its chance to erupt.

Paolo DelPiccolo found the back of the net in the 69th and 87th minutes of a 2-0, opening night victory over Atlanta United 2 in front of 7,652 fans — 50% of stadium capacity thanks to newly approved limits set by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

A victory started the boys in purple right where they’ve left off in prior seasons, all six of which have culminated with appearances in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference Final to go with two league titles.

"I hope that everybody recognizes that that was a good team in Atlanta – really organized," said LouCity's head coach, John Hackworth. "They took away a lot of what we were trying to do. At the same time, I felt like as the game grew on, we just got better and better.

"I felt like we were going to get one sooner or later. Eventually, we did. It was nice to add the second and nice that George (Davis IV) comes on and gets an assist to Paolo -- wonderful from that perspective.”

En route to victory, LouCity had to survive some anxious moments as Atlanta United 2 fielded a young squad antsy to counter attack. By halftime, goalkeeper Chris Hubbard had made his only save of the night, stuffing a breakaway chance by Atlanta’s Coleman Gannon, and three of four defenders on LouCity’s back line saw yellow cards.

A set piece truly jump started the host side’s offense when Oscar Jimenez looped in a corner kick from the left side that found DelPiccolo’s first goal. The midfielder and captain DelPiccolo competed his second half brace when tapping in a cross from the veteran forward Davis IV.

“Every game is different, and all the roles are different," said DelPiccolo, who over the last year has moved up in LouCity's attack. "Playing with your back to the goal, turning in different ways, finding different spots on the field -- and the more you do it the more comfortable you get with it.

"Every single game I play, I feel something, I go watch the film, I look at something, and then I try and keep finding better and better spots.”

By the final whistle, LouCity had totaled 14 shots to Atlanta’s 3 and comfortably completed passes at an 82% clip. The boys in purple possessed the ball 60% of the way, avoiding an opposing shot on target after the 29th minute.

So began a 32-game USL Championship season with a key victory. Atlanta United 2 hails from the newly established Central Division, a group of clubs LouCity will face twice home and twice away in 2021. The top four advance to the playoffs.

"We’ve had a lot of time to prepare and it’s nice to see the guys come out and leave it all on the field," said Davis IV, who in addition to being a rostered player is doubling as a team administrator this season. "For myself, I know that I have a role to fill and whatever that may be I just want to try to do it the best that I can.

"Tonight, I was fortunate to get myself on the pitch and provide an assist for Paolo. You know, I may get a few minutes here and there, I may start, I may not play. But whatever it is, I’ll be prepared.”

Given Kentucky Derby week is ahead, the boys in purple will take a hiatus before returning to host Birmingham Legion FC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in the second of four straight at Lynn Family Stadium to start the new campaign.