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  • Writer's pictureBenton

How’s It Going? Part 2 – An Assessment of Louisville City’s 2021 Season-To-Date

Sometimes it is easy to get caught in the individual matches and lose focus of the bigger picture. In June, we took a look at the team performance and compared it to the 2021 competition as well as teams of years past. With eight more games in the rearview window, it's time again to see where this team stands. This is an updated assessment of Louisville City’s 2021 season-to-date.

Currently, Louisville City is first in the Central Division. While City has more points than the Legion, they do have two games in hand to catch up. Aside from the Alabama team, LouCity is in a comfortable spot. Our friends over at FiveThirtyEight have Louisville as a virtual lock for the playoffs (99% chance), a 71% chance to win the regular-season title, and have given them a 14% chance to win it all (2% high than last time).

Since the last check in, the squad has gone 5-1-2. That is 17 points in 8 matches, averaging 2.13 points a match. Below are all the matches that have taken place:

Now, let’s look at some numbers. For this, I have pulled data from American Soccer Analysis. If you like soccer and numbers, this is the website for you. It's not a deep assessment, but rather a quick review of some general team stats.

First, we will look at expected goals (xG) and expected points (xPts). For those unfamiliar, xG is essentially the number of goals one should expect based on various on-field factors, such as passes and positioning. It’s basically assigning a number to the “eye-test”. You can go here for a more thorough explanation. xPts, meanwhile, is essentially taking xG to the next level and determining how many points a team would get based on the play. Here is a little primer on that.

For the sake of comparison, I have the 2021 data lined up against the 2017 and 2018 LouCity data. We won championships in those seasons, so what better years to measure against.

Both the projections for xG and xPts have normalized a bit given the larger sample size than what we had in June. Even with those decreases, LouCity is still trending above the 2017 and 2018 levels. For xG, the 2021 team currently has a cumulative 32.37 to 2017’s 22.84 and 2018’s 20.43. It’s a bit closer for xPts. 2021 is currently at a cumulative xPts of 34.14 to 2017’s 28.11 and 2018’s 23.82.

Moving on from the “expected” are the actual numbers; goals and points. While the same gap between the years does not exist, the numbers are nonetheless promising.

In 2021, Louisville City has scored 32 goals (from 13 different players) compared to 2017’s 22 and 2018’s 24. This team is having some outstanding offensive production! The 2021 team also leads with cumulative points at 31 to 2017’s 28 and 2018’s 29. Unlike 2017 and 2018, this season’s team is not beating out the expected count.

Now, let’s compare Morados to their competition this season. Below you will find goals for/against, expected goals for/against (xGF/xGA), goals for/xGF, goals against/xGA, shots/goals, and points per game.

Lots of information to digest here. Let’s start with the first, Goals For and Goals Against Per Game (2021). To put it simply, the bottom right is where you want to be. While we would ideally like to be in Phoenix’s position, Louisville is still in a fabulous spot. Averaging 2.0 goals for and 1.2 against is great and many other teams in the league would kill for those averages. Interestingly enough, it is Louisville who is in the better spot in the next visual, Expected Goals For and Expected Goals Against Per Game (2021) (albeit slightly), with 2.0 xGF and 0.9 xGA. That difference between the 1.2 goals against and the 0.9 xGA simply assigns numbers to some of the defensive frustrations we have seen this season (despite still being overall fairly solid).

Goals For and Expected Goals For (xGF) Per Game (2021) provides a nice comparison of just how well City is fairing. They are right on target and noticeably above the trend line. On the flip side, Goals Against and Expected Goals Against Per Game (2021) shows that we have perhaps given up more than we should have. More to the bottom left would be preferable. Even with this aside, LouCity is still one of the better defensive teams.

Looking at Shots and Goals (2021), LouCity and Phoenix Rising are in a league of their own, drastically out shooting and scoring the competition. Two well above average teams that almost seem destined for a championship clash (knock on wood). However, Points Per Game (2021) shows that there are still other teams in the mix, such as El Paso.

The following compares this season’s team to LouCity teams of years past as well as some dominant teams in the USL over the past few seasons.

Although Louisville has been offensively strong, there are still a few in front of them for the title of best all-time, as seen in Goals For and Expected Goals For (xGF) Per Game (Historic). They are in great company and have a bright remainder of the season, should it maintain. As already mentioned, there is some opportunity with keeping the ball out of the net, and Goals Against For And Expected Goals Against Per Game (Historic) shows that. If City can just bring the actual number down to the expected level, they would be in fantastic shape. And finally, there is Points Per Game (Historic). All the averages are very tight, but Louisville City is right there with the best of them.

So, what’s the takeaway from this high-level rundown? Louisville is not perfect but is in a fantastic spot. They are one of the top teams on both sides of the ball and are pacing well alongside some of the great teams from the past few USL seasons. With each positive result, making the playoffs seem more and more like a foregone conclusion. That is, however, the expectation with the fan base. The million-dollar question is, can they keep up this momentum into the postseason? There is still a lot of regular season left and, not to be a negative Nancy, there is still plenty of time for some sort of unexpected adversity to strike. Only time can tell, but for now, there is much more to be happy about than upset about. Through injuries and a head coaching change, Louisville City has persevered. Excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds! Vamos Morados!

Parting Thoughts

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