How's It Going? Part 1 - An Assessment Of Louisville City's 2022 Season-To-Date
Updated: May 12, 2022
Louisville City is ten games into the 34 game regular season. Of the ten matches played, they have earned seven wins, three draws, and ZERO losses. They sit atop the Eastern Conference and are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the league. With the season a little more than 1/4th the way completed, the time felt right to take a look back at the storylines entering the season and the early impressions to see how they have held up along with other observations on this fantastic LouCity team.
Formation vs Style of Play
Between Cameron Lancaster’s preseason injury and the first Indy Eleven match, we have not seen as much of a back three as we may have speculated entering the season. However, it’s the style of play the team has employed that has taken more of a main stage than the on-paper formation. Whether the squad is lined up in the 4-3-3 (ex. vs Miami FC) or a 4-2-3-1 (ex. at Atlanta United 2), they play itself has panned out in a similar fashion. Coach Danny Cruz has employed a consistent high press, suffocating the opposing team in their own half. Both the right (Amadou Dia) and left (Manny Perez) backs have been able to consistent contributors on the offensive end, helping to overwhelm the opponent with numbers. Brilliant midfield play has dictated the flow and tempo and creative and intelligent runs by the likes of Brian Ownby and Wilson Harris have created opportunities for their teammates, if not for themselves. Opposing team may have a good sense of what is coming, but they have struggled to crack the code of the nuances of the team’s strategy and the individual players’ talent (which City has in spades).
They are a number of words one could use to describe the LouCity roster. One descriptor that is hard to argue is “deep”. Does Corben Bone have a knock? Ok, Niall McCabe can get a start. Wes Charpie needs a rest? Sean Totsch can come off the bench to relieve him. There are at least two playoff caliber USL Championship teams within the Louisville City roster. While still relatively early, calling this Louisville’s deepest team ever isn’t too much of a reach. Let’s take a moment here to praise the staff for their work in the preseason. Usually, it can take a little time for new players to fully integrate and get up to their potential. This group did not need much of a lead up period and were playing fantastically very early on. They made the most of the preseason so they could hit the ground running in the regular season.
Take a look at these numbers, comparing 2021 to 2022. What do you see? Although 2022 is an incomplete sample, the data illustrates a team that has leveled up in the offseason. A team that was moments away from securing a place in the finals. More goals scored (and expected), fewer allowed, and more points. There is still a lot of season to play, but a lot to be happy about. They are a team trending very much in the right direction.
Second Half Offensive Adjustments
We have seen a trend this season with LouCity coming out of the locker room at halftime and finding ways to perform even better, particularly on the offensive side of things. Louisville has taken 61% of their total shots in the 2nd half (60% for shots on target). In seven of ten matches, they took more shots in the 2nd half. Similar trend for goals; 60% of goals occurred in the 2nd half with the team scoring in the 2nd in 80% of matches (compared to only 60% for the first half). This team is learning and adapting and Coach Cruz appears to be using the break to make all the right moves to get the most out of his team after watching 45 minutes of play.
Late Goals No More
Speaking of goals, what about concessions? Specifically, late concessions. That was a reoccurring issue last year, giving up goals at the end of halves. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. The few goals they have allowed have all been fairly evenly spread between the start of the match and the 60’ mark. Just 0.3 goals allowed per match in the first half and 0.1 goals allowed per match in the second. Kyle Morton and the backline have done a phenomenal job making this a very small sample size.
Matches of Interest
With a decent sample size built up, we not only have a clearer picture of who this team is but who the opposition is as well. Now, knowing who is “good” and who isn’t, we can more clearly look ahead at the schedule for what some of the big matches are.
Tampa Bay Rowdies
- At Tampa (St. Petersburg) on 06/04 and at home on 08/03.
After how last season ended, the Rowdies were always going to be a match circled on the schedule. They are struggling a bit and hold a 3-4-3 record but there is still a lot of season for them to right the ship. Regardless of where they fall on the table, it’s a must-win match for Louisville City on principle.
Phoenix Rising FC
- At home on 07/20.
Like Louisville City, Phoenix is a playoff regular. They are currently fourth in the West with a 5-0-3 record and will most likely earn a playoff spot in the fall. Like the Rowdies, a match against them will always be a focus on the schedule. Not only do we want to show the East’s superiority over the West, but we want to prove that we are the better dynasty. It’s a mid-week match and City will be coming off a trip to Memphis, so not an ideal setup but still very doable. The USL has made this a showcase match. With a national audience, a win is required regardless of the circumstance.
Detroit City FC
- At Detroit on 05/10 (Open Cup) and 08/20. At home on 10/05.
This is an interesting one. When the season began, this was a match of interest specifically because of their passionate fanbase. However, Detroit has had a solid start in the USL. They are currently 2nd in the East with a 5-2-1 record. Now this matchup is more interesting. Many people didn’t expect an early splash on the pitch from them but they have come to play. Detroit’s first appearance at Lynn Family Stadium will be midweek towards the end of the season coming off a western road trip against RGV. Hopefully that travel doesn’t come to bite them in what could be a match against two playoff teams.
- At Indy on 08/31.
We have played Indy once and it went ok. A draw isn’t exciting but considering the team came back to earn that one point makes it feel a little better. If LouCity wanted to regain their status as LIPAFC champions, they need to earn three on the road in the next matchup.
- At Pittsburgh on 09/10.
City tamed the Hounds once already but they are a good team and will be eager for revenge when we enter their house later this season. Like Phoenix, they are playoff regulars and they appear to be on playoff pacing again this season. It will be one of the big tests that Louisville will have down the stretch of the season.
Early Player Of The Year Contenders
How about a roundup of potential POTY contenders? Still a lot of season left and plenty of time for others to make their case. However, at this point, here are a few that deserve to be in the conversation (in no particular order).
When a team has only allowed four goals in ten matches (with zero losses), the goalkeeper needs to be in the conversation. Kyle Morton has been arguably one of the biggest acquisitions this offseason. A big honor, considering the talent Coach Cruz brought in. While he hasn’t been as active as other keepers in the league, he has come up big every time. It would be a crime to leave him off this list.
Ownby is aging like a fine wine. His 2021 season was fantastic, but his 2022 is on track to be even better. When he is not scoring goals of his own, he is creating opportunities for others or, at a minimum, being a total problem for opposing defenses. LouCity may not have scored at Birmingham, but his performance in that match stands out. Despite being a man down, the team played even better largely thanks to his play. He was worth at least two players on the pitch. That performance may not be a lasting memory in people’s minds later in the season, but it’s a great example of why he must be in this conversation.
We knew Harris was a good player when we signed him, but I think he has exceeded many people’s high expectations. The plan wasn’t for him to be the lone striker up top, but Cam’s injury has forced that. He seamlessly adapted to his new team and has a phenomenal start to his career in purple. It’s not just been his goal scoring but his movement as well. He has learned to pull defenders and create space for others. An easy choice to include him on this list.
The question was thrown out to those on Twitter. Here is what those users said:
This team has seen a lot of great performances and cases could easily be made for others to be in the conversation. Honorable mentions include Manny Perez, Josh Wynder, and Corben Bone.
Like I said with the early impressions, there are many reasons to be optimistic. This team is red hot and shows no signs of slowing down. Coach Cruz is maximizing this talented roster and finding wins left and right. So long as he can keep the squad grounded and focused and that they remain healthy, there is no reason not to expect more of the same!
Experimentation is ongoing with the Match Recaps. Please see my Editor's Note. Feedback welcome and encouraged!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? Might I suggest The Tifos of Louisville City, Louisville City’s Pathway To The Pros, Louisville City's Preparations For The Future, What Are Expected Goals (xG)?, or What Are Goals Added (G+)?.
Have a friend just getting into LouCity soccer? Be sure to send them the Introduction To Louisville City link to give them a point of reference to learn about the club and league.
Be sure to check out the Vamos Morados Podcast featuring me, Benton, and Zach Allen-Kelly. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Audible, and Spotify. Everything you need to listen can be found on the Podcast page. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!