HARTFORD, Conn. — Sean Totsch tucked in his career-high fourth goal Saturday, Paolo DelPiccolo came off the bench to score another, and Louisville City FC continued to regain its form with a 2-0 victory over Hartford Athletic.
Playing a rare afternoon game at Trinity Health Stadium in Connecticut, the boys in purple lacked conviction in the final third until the 64th minute. That’s when the center back Totsch headed home an Amadou Dia cross to win it for LouCity in front of a an ESPN audience.
"We're going to get a goal somewhere," Totsch said, "whether that's someone scoring a really nice goal or whether it's a set piece or a penalty or something scrappy. That's what good teams do. They score goals in different ways. We talk about it all the time that as long as we don't hurt ourselves and keep ourselves in the game, teams are going to wear down, and we're going to get our goals."
Individually, Totsch has now converted a pair of penalty kicks and two more goals from open play in 2022. This season’s firepower follows a pair of USL Championship All-League First Team campaigns for the veteran in 2020 and 2021.
As a club, LouCity followed an uncharacteristic three losses in four USL Championship games to now post back-to-back wins, pairing last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Orange County SC with Saturday’s result.
The boys in purple improved to 10-3-3, with their 33 points good for a return to the top of the Eastern Conference table pending Memphis 901 FC’s Saturday night tilt with Detroit City FC.
"I thought it was an absolute grind from the group," said coach Danny Cruz. "The mentality was fantastic. They were difficult conditions with regard to the heat and the turf, but we talked about it all week: making sure we had no excuses when we walked out of this stadium.
"...I know it's easy to just look at those results and be concerned, but at the end of the day, I think my group trusts our process. We were confident in spite of the results and confident we'll continue to push forward and grow."
Before Totsch’s heroics, LouCity had tried nine shots and placed four on target — but none were categorized as “Big Chances” to score by Stats Perform’s analysts. That’s partially to be expected with striker Cameron Lancaster out a second straight game due to a groin injury and fellow forward Wilson Harris not quite fit for starting minutes while nursing a minor ailment of his own.
City has also been down its starting goalkeeper with Kyle Morton in concussion protocol since leaving a June 5 game early. In his place, Danny Faundez registered a first career clean sheet in his second USL Championship start. Faundez — who said he benefits from a mindset of "always being ready, not knowing when you'll be needed" — came up particularly big in the 16th and 47th minutes when clearing out Hartford’s one-on-one chances.
"Overall, this group is just competitive," Faundez said. "It's a good locker room. We're always aspiring for more, so obviously we're not happy if we're not winning. At the same time, we don't put our heads down (after a loss). We just know next weekend we've got to play better."
That didn't turn out to be the case Saturday as Faundez afforded City some time to get its attack right. Harris subbed on in the 60th minute, and it wasn’t long after that he played through to Dia on the left wing. The outside back crossed to Totsch, who was waiting at the back post for the opener.
DelPiccolo padded the lead in the 79th minute when a walking Hartford defender kept him just onside in the center of the box. Jorge Gonzalez played in a grounded through ball, DelPiccolo corralled it with a soft first touch, turned and scored his third of the year.
Prior to the goals, City’s best chances belonged to youngster Ray Serrano, who put in an inspired shift along the right wing. Serrano one-touched an Enoch Mushagalusa cross from the end line in the ninth minute, just soared a try from distance in the 26th and forced a save on a hard-driven try in the 43rd that was going in at the top corner.
LouCity as a result moved to 4-0 all time against Hartford. The clubs met on national TV last year, too, with the boys in purple prevailing by a 4-2 score in a midweek game on ESPN2.
From here, City moves forward to host Birmingham Legion FC next Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium with kickoff at 8 p.m.