Louisville City Football Club is an American professional soccer club based in Louisville, Kentucky. The team plays in the USL Championship, known through the 2018 season as the United Soccer League (USL), which is currently the second tier of the American soccer pyramid.
Louisville City FC Youth Development System
The Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC academies are an elite youth soccer program based in Louisville, Ky., with the expectation of playing at the highest level of youth soccer in the United States. The academy provides players from within the region a positive player-centered learning environment, giving each player the opportunity to develop his/her full potential and maximize his/her ability all with the exposure to a clear pathway to professional or collegiate soccer.
Players in the club will get access to:
1. A direct pathway to professional soccer for both men and women via the club’s first teams.
2. The most qualified and experienced staff in the region on both the boys and the girls side.
3. Exposure and guidance in the college recruitment process.
4. Invitation to participate in domestic and international tournaments against some of the world’s best professional youth clubs.
Academy Frequently Asked Questions
– WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING IN THE USL ACADEMY?
The USL Youth Academy program will provide USL clubs a progressive model to develop local players for the senior team or college soccer. Our players will have a clear pathway from youth soccer to USL League 2 or college soccer to the USL Championship. The USL is implementing a set of minimum standards with which our club must meet in order to field a USL Academy team. These will focus on areas that directly impact the development of the club’s pre-professional youth players, including but not limited to: staffing requirements; use of technology & analytics; integration of sport science, nutrition & peak performance drivers; access to appropriate training facilities; use of individual development plans; etc.: https://www.usl-academy.com/academy-model
– WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING IN THE RACING LOUISVILLE ACADEMY?
The Racing Louisville Academy seeks to be an organization that is synonymous with empowering female soccer players in all aspects of their development. This organization will pioneer a pathway for its members to be exposed to, as well as benefit from, the women’s professional game at unprecedented levels, all of which are unique to any other girls’ soccer organization in the region. This will include training at the same facility as Racing Louisville FC, a direct pathway to becoming a professional player, access to a professional coaching staff throughout your youth development as well as college exposure and preparation that supersedes the current community standard. The Racing Louisville Academy also looks to cultivate programming that will unite us to other NWSL academy programs for added competitive and developmental opportunities.
– HOW IS THE ACADEMY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER YOUTH CLUBS?
Players who join the club will be in an environment which will have:
• A direct pathway to professional soccer for both boys and girls.
• A coaching staff with Head & Assistant Coaching experience at the Division I, II, III & NAIA levels which will provide resources and assistance in the recruitment process.
• World-class training facility featuring four turf fields with lights and locker rooms.
• USL Academy Cup events.
• Domestic and International events.
• The Louisville City FC /Racing Louisville Academy are pioneers professional and youth soccer in that we are one of four organizations with both men’s and women’s professional teams and a pathway for youth players on both the boys and girl’s side.
– WHAT IS THE COST?
Our fees will be comparable to other clubs in the region and in line with the leagues in which we are competing. Specific costs will be announced with the tryout dates and details.
– ARE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE?
We as an academy have a players first mindset; which means that we do not want to see finances ever get in the way of a player having an opportunity to play at the highest level. We will have an established scholarship application process that a player will go through once rostered to a team. Our staff will review the applications and work with each individual player/family to make every effort to accommodate each need.
– WILL MY CHILD STILL BE ELIGIBLE TO PLAY HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER?
Yes. We value the significance that competing in high school sports brings through the physical and social development of a young person.
– WHERE WILL THE TEAMS TRAIN?
Our academy teams will practice at our brand new, state-of-the-art, training facility at Champions Park on River Road. The facility features four turf fields with lights to accommodate year-round training.
– WHO WILL BE COACHING THE TEAMS?
– WHAT AGES CAN COMPETE IN THE ACADEMY?
The goal is to have two teams in each age group, boys and girls, from U8 through U18/19.
– CAN YOU STILL PLAY IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE THE LOUISVILLE METRO AREA?
Absolutely. The Academy is open to all players regardless of their home location.
– HOW ARE PLAYERS SELECTED?
The academy will host yearly tryouts. Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for those dates.
– WHAT IS THE LENGTH OF THE SEASON?
For the pre-high school age player, the season will run from late July until mid-May which will include a winter training program.
For the high school age player, the season will run from late fall (after high school soccer) through late May.
– WHICH LEAGUES WILL THE ACADEMIES COMPETE IN?
The LouCity Academy will compete in both the USL Academy in the East-Central Division and was the first Kentucky boys team to join the prestigious ECNL.
The Racing Louisville Academy also competes in the ECNL which is widely agreed upon to be the highest level of girls competitive soccer.
– HOW OFTEN WILL ACADEMY TEAMS TRAVEL?
Travel will be based on age-appropriate demands and league and tournament play.
– WILL THERE BE AFFILIATE CLUBS?
The Academy will have Community Alliance clubs that will be partner clubs to provide opportunities for youth players of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels to build on their love of the sport. The partnership will represent a united community of dedicated teams, coaches, players, and guardians who share a common goal – supporting the positive benefits attained through the game of soccer.
– CAN ACADEMY PLAYERS PLAY OTHER SPORTS?
Yes. We believe that participation in other youth sports is an important part of physical and social development for kids.
For more information on Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville’s academies, families can email [email protected].
Academy ID Sessions
Dates and times for upcoming ID sessions can be found by clicking here.
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Louisville City FC History
Louisville officials met with the owners of Orlando City’s USL squad in early 2014 to discuss the possibility of moving the team that would be displaced by Orlando’s future MLS franchise to Louisville. June 2014 saw the official announcement of the team’s relocation to Louisville from Estopinal. During Louisville City FC’s maiden season in 2015, Orlando City SC had a minority ownership investment in the team, and Louisville City served as the Lions’ USL affiliate team. Former Orlando City player-coach James O’Connor was named the club’s first manager and the team’s colors were preserved.
Orlando City SC’s association with LCFC dissolved after the 2016 season, and the club now operates the Orlando City B USL squad. Louisville will remain a part of Orlando City SC’s plans. On July 1, 2018, James O’Connor resigned as manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy in order to become the next head coach of the Major League Soccer team Orlando City SC.
A USL Cup triumph and a historic U.S. Open Cup victory over MLS’s New England Revolution were among James O’Connor’s many accomplishments during his tenure with the club. Three players, including George Davis IV, Paolo DelPiccolo and Luke Spencer, coached the team. John Hackworth was named the team’s second-ever head coach on August 2, 2018. On November 8, the squad became the first in USL history to win the league’s championship a second time. Team Phoenix Rising FC was defeated by a score of 1–0. While flying from Louisville to Chicago on Nov. 30, 2018, Wayne Estopinal, one of the company’s minority owners and one of its main founders, was killed in the incident. When Louisville City FC returned to the USL title game the following year, they fell short of being the first team to accomplish the “threepeat,” losing 3–1 to Real Monarchs SLC, the MLS affiliate of Real Salt Lake.
Following his dismissal from Orlando City SC in October 2019, it was reported on January 13th, 2020, that James O’Connor would be returning. For the time being, he will be the team’s executive vice president of development, in charge of setting up an academy for young players. As part of her role, O’Connor will help recruit players and personnel for the upcoming 2021 season of the National Women’s Soccer League team based in Louisville.
Louisville Slugger Field (2015–2019)
Louisville Slugger Field served as the team’s home venue from its inception in 2015 through 2019. The Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, play their home games here. A soccer crowd of 8,000 was proclaimed a sellout despite the fact that Slugger Field’s baseball diamond configuration limits the number of spectators who may sit in their designated seats, which are 13,131. Prior to the start of the inaugural season, Slugger Field’s pitcher’s mound had a retractable jack installed to provide a level playing surface for soccer games.
Lynn Family Stadium
The ownership group announced in April 2017 that it has the option to buy five neighboring parcels of land totaling 40 acres (16 ha) in the Butchertown area just east of Slugger Field for a mixed-use project that would include a 10,000-seat soccer stadium. Initial plans proposed for a 20,000-seat stadium with accompanying office buildings, retail shops, and even an on-site hotel as part of the project.
During a press conference on September 22, 2017, Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer announced a stadium deal in which the merged city-county government would borrow $30 million in order to acquire the land, with Louisville City investors responsible for developing the site and repaying about half of the borrowed funds. The stadium’s initial capacity was not altered, but the amended plan allowed for an additional 25,000 seats to be added, as well as the revelation that a second hotel may be included in the total project.
Just after the ownership group obtained $130 million in private finance for the total project on October 26, 2017, Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to accept the stadium contract and to apply to Kentucky’s General Assembly for a tax-increment financing district. The USL mandate that all teams play in soccer-specific stadiums for the 2020 season will be met when the stadium opens in March 2020, according to current projections.
When construction began in June 2018, the stadium had an initial capacity of 14,000 people, with permanent seating for an additional 11,700. The team announced the renaming of the stadium to Lynn Family Stadium on August 5, 2019. Dr. Mark Lynn, an optometrist who operates the local Visionworks store in Louisville, gave his name to the stadium. The University of Louisville’s soccer stadium, named for Lynn and his wife Cindy, is the city’s second Lynn-named soccer site.
The Coopers, an organization of Louisville soccer enthusiasts, was created in 2013 in order to build local support for professional soccer. To honor the bourbon distilling history in Louisville, where the barrels used to mature the spirit are made by coopers, Coopers was born.
Potential local owners invited the owners of Orlando City Soccer Club to Louisville in January 2014 to meet with The Coopers. He stated that The Coopers were already a “fantastic supporters group” and believed a professional team would be successful in Louisville after the discussion, which was attended by Orlando City owner Phil Rawlins. Sections 121–123 of Slugger Field, directly behind Preston Street’s goal, are designated as a Coopers fan zone.
There are three teams in the Eastern Conference that compete with Louisville City: FC Cincinnati, St. Louis FC, and Indy Eleven.
On the first day of the 2015 USL season, Louisville City FC played and won its first professional match 2–0 against Saint Louis FC. In the years since, the two teams have developed a friendly competition for the Kings’ Cup.
Dirty River Derby
The “River Cities Cup,” or “Dirty River Derby,” is one of the most fiercely contested lower-division matches in the United States. On the Ohio River, the two cities are only a hundred miles apart. Because of their close proximity, these games often drew large crowds and featured aggressive play in the name of local pride. As a divisional rivalry, the Dirty River Derby came to an end with FC Cincinnati’s relocation to MLS in 2018.
Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC first met in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, which Louisville City won 2–0. Two seasons later, Indy would face Louisville in a series of friendlies and the U.S. Open Cup, when Louisville would lose 2–1 to Indy. Both teams adopted the unique moniker “Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest,” or “LIPAFC,” during the season after the Eleven joined the United Soccer League in 2018.
Colors and Badge
The team’s colors were purple, gold, and white, as they had been since Orlando City’s inception. A fleur-de-lis on a purple bourbon barrel was the first design for the team’s crest. However, after much criticism, this design was scrapped in favor of a new one, which was chosen through a public competition. Winner’s design features a purple Fleur de Lis embedded within a golden barrel of Bourbon with a sliver of Louisville’s cityscape on top. Preston Pointe, the Aegon Center, the PNC Tower, and the Humana Building make up the partial skyline.
At a press conference on December 16, 2019, the city of Louisville introduced a new badge that incorporates parts of its historic flag with its signature purple. To better represent the club’s official colors, the new crest features Oak Char Black and Kentucky Limestone Grey.” LouCity’s new badge was only in use for three days before another outcry forced them to discard it on December 19, 2019. “(O)ur recent brand rollout has failed you,” club president Brad Estes stated in a statement. We tried our best, but we didn’t remember that we owed it to you to involve you in the process. We’ve halted manufacture of products using the new crest and begun discussions with the leadership of the fan organization about ways to improve our club’s branding and crest.” Louisville City announced its new permanent badge on November 17, 2020.