The USL Championship and ESPN have announced that Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s season opener will be at Louisville City FC on Sunday, July 12 at Lynn Family Stadium, marking the first-ever match at the newly built venue.
The match will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2.
The kickoff time of this match is still to be determined. In addition to airing on ESPN2, this match will also be aired on ESPN Deportes and the ESPN App. In its 21-year history, this is expected to be the first-ever Riverhounds’ match to air on a national television network platform.
Not a bad way to get back at it 😎😤 https://t.co/J6XE9sFSJG
— Robbie Mertz (@robbiemertz14) June 30, 2020
🚨 🚨 AHEM 🚨 🚨 https://t.co/dawslrnj5W
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) June 30, 2020
“We are excited to kick off our 2020 season with a nationally televised match on ESPN2,” owner Tuffy Shallenberger said through the club’s release. “The national stage will mark a tremendous opportunity for our club to return to play. We are looking forward to playing soccer again and beginning our 2020 season.”
The game will also be played in front of fans after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gave his approval for the venue to operate at up to 50 percent of its 15,304-seat capacity, though the actual attendance will likely be less than that. Social distancing and other safety protocols will be in effect for those in attendance.
“We are so excited to finally play in Lynn Family Stadium,” said LouCity head coach and sporting director John Hackworth. “It is not lost during these unprecedented times that as professional athletes, we have a small part to play. Yet for the Louisville community and our amazing fans, July 12 will be a wonderful day.
“Getting the chance to open Lynn Family Stadium on national TV versus one of our fiercest rivals, Pittsburgh, will be an incredible experience.”
A contest with the Riverhounds marks a rematch from the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs, when LouCity rallied to earn a 2-1 away victory en route to winning the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference title for a third straight season.
Located in the Butchertown neighborhood just east of downtown Louisville, Lynn Family Stadium, a $65 million facility, was years in the works, dating back to dreams of LouCity’s beginnings in 2015. The boys in purple have won two USL championships and advanced at least as far as the Eastern Conference final in all five of their seasons so far.
This match will see Pittsburgh and Louisville renew its brewing rivalry, as both clubs have competed at the top of the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference in the past few years. The clubs last met during the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2019 USL Cup Eastern Conference semifinal.
The two-time USL Cup Champions knocked off the top-seeded Hounds, 2-1, in extra time at Highmark Stadium in front of a venue record crowd of 6,073 fans.
As for away matches at Louisville, under the direction of head coach Bob Lilley, the Hounds have won two straight. Overall, Pittsburgh holds a 3-1-1 all-time road record when facing the three-time, defending Eastern Conference champions.
While Pittsburgh’s season was postponed two days before its opener at Charlotte on March 14. On the other hand, Louisville has played one match, in which they defeated North Carolina FC, 1-0, before the season was suspended.
The Riverhounds will play a 16-game schedule, as part of a group of five teams, plus four additional matches, including this opener vs Louisville City. All regular season games will count. The top two teams in each group will move on to the USL Cup playoffs.
The remainder of the USL’s 2020 regular season schedule, including the Riverhounds’ home opener will be announced in the coming days.