How’s It Going? Part 3 - An Assessment Of Louisville City’s 2022 Season-To-Date
With 24 matches in the books for Louisville City and only 10 matches left in the regular season, it's time that we take a step back and take a look at the big picture. Much like what had been done in May for Part 1 and June for Part 2, we will take a look at how LouCity stacks up to the competition, trends that have come up this season, and what is on the horizon for this squad as they finish out the regular season.
So, how exactly does this Louisville squad compare to the other teams in the league? The above chart shows team rankings for a number of statistical categories sorted by points per game (Pts/G). As you’ll see, LouCity is at the top of the list with the best goals for per game (GF/G) and best goals against per game (GA/G). Their worst category? A 6th place showing for shots to goals against which isn’t exactly one of the more important items on that list. For those interested in the raw numbers, those can be found below. But to keep it simple, the boys in purple are one of, if not the absolute, best performing teams in the league.
I think it's also worth taking a quick look at home and away performances. LouCity has a league-best 2.42 Pts/G at home and the 3rd best Pts/G away with 2.17. Morados have a 4th place showing for GF/G at home but lead the league with 1.92 GF/G on the road. As for GA/G, they are the best at home with just 0.58 and the third best on the road with 0.75.
The standard in Louisville is to be near or at the top, so beating out many of these teams isn’t exactly a ground-breaking accomplishment. For more context, let's compare this season to last season. Currently, 2022 improves upon 2021s GA/G, GA/G, and Pts/G. Both expected goals for (xGF/G) and goals against (xGA/G) also are trending the right way. However there is a slight decline in expected points per game (xPts/G). Much worse things could happen, so I’ll take it. And for what it's worth, goals added for and against (G+) have slightly decreased but like the xPts/G decrease, not super concerning.
Taking things a step further, let's add all the team from 2017 to present into the mix (excluding 2020 because that is an outlier in several ways). Of 157 teams, this season’s LouCity squad is 2nd for Pts/G and no lower than 21st in any other category. Below you can see the actual per game averages along with visualizations for Home and Away stats, “Good-Lucky” (Pts/G-xPts/G by xPts/G), and a plotting of GF/G and GA/G. Not only is it clear that LouCity has always been good, but there is a case for this being the best squad yet. This team is in the company of other greats as well including, 2019 Phoenix Rising and 2018 FC Cincinnati.
For more on the numbers of this season, check out the plethora of visuals at the bottom of this page. There is a lot to be happy about from a number’s perspective for LouCity fans.
Moving on, let’s look at some trends for Louisville this season. This squad tends to score their goals in the second half as first observed in Part 2. Whether this is the result of the squad taking time to feel out the opposition, Coach Danny Cruz lighting a fire in the team in the locker room at the break, both, or some entirely different reason, it has been consistent. LouCity’s rare goal concessions have been relatively spread out, with 51’-60’ being the worst period.
Another trend has been Morados’ ability to string together results. Only once have they lost following a win (provided you count the DET Open Cup win as a draw as it was 1-1 at the end of regulation). That loss was the first TBR encounter in which Kyle Morton was injured early. While draws have peppered the list of results, they have done well on bouncing back outside of that stretch in May.
The final trend we will touch on is related to expected points. Similar to expected goals (xG), expected points (xPts) is a calculation of how points based on the team’s performance in relation to historical outcomes. The closer a team’s xPts for a match is to three, the more that historical outcomes would suggest they would have won that match. However, sometimes a team with a high xPts for a match might only get a draw or even lose. The “better” team doesn’t always win. That’s soccer. This is a good barometer for a team’s quality (hence its usage in the “Good-Lucky” visualizations). Of LouCity’s 24 matches as of this writing, they have had the superior xPts in 20 matches (83.33%). Only the Rowdies have a higher count (21/25, 84%). LouCity’s wins are not flukes. They get results and do so in a way that often suggests that they should be getting those results.
Looking ahead, five of the 10 remaining matches are on the road, including a midweek LIPAFC encounter and a trip to Tulsa. While short rest can pose a problem, these are thankfully opponents that have been underperforming this season and appear to be on the outside of the playoff picture. Louisville’s most challenging matches left to play are LOUvSAC, PITvLOU, LOUvMEM, and LOUvDET. The Sacramento Republic are an unknown entity for LouCity, however, they have an Open Cup fixture less than a week after the match. They may prioritize the Open Cup and play an adjusted lineup for LOUvSAC. Fingers crossed for our sake. The remaining “big” matches are teams the squad has faced and beaten.
With how close the standings are for the regular season title, Louisville City controls their own fate. SA’s dropped points top RGV was a huge blessing on that front. While that elusive accolade is in reach this season, the more important playoff picture is even more favorable for Louisville. FiveThirtyEight is giving the boys in purple a 45% chance to make the finals and a 29% chance to win it all. Both are league highs. While they may not always get it right, it's nice to see their quants supporting the notion that LouCity is good and is in a prime position to win some hardware.
There is a lot to be happy about with Louisville City. Should they keep on their current trajectory, it could be a fun conclusion to the 2022 season!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following:
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!