With the 2021 season done and dusted, it's time to take a look back at Louisville City’s most recent campaign before too much offseason action gets underway. There were many highs and lows, but ultimately, it was another successful run in the USL Championship. First, let’s start with a few positives:
Eastern Conference Finals Regulars
While the conclusion of the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals leaves much to be desired and will remain in the minds of LouCity fans for unfortunate reasons, the team’s trip was another significant milestone. Every year of the club's existence, they have made it to this point in the playoffs. It is an unheard of run of success. Louisville City fans are truly blessed to have such a successful team that can make deep runs year over year.
This young player was certainly a highlight and will remain in the minds of fans for years to come. JoGo had an absolutely outstanding season earning him Young Player Of The Year and a nomination for Defender Of The Year. His play earned him time with both the Mexican and US National Teams as well as a contract to play in La Liga next season. While he will be missed, he could go on to be one of the best players to have come from the league.
Goals, Goals, Goals
With an average of 1.88 goals per match, LouCity was one of the most impressive offensive teams in 2021. While Cameron Lancaster led the team in this effort, it was surprisingly the captain Paolo DelPiccolo who accumulated the 2nd most. You’ve got to score to win and City got it done with impressive efficiency. We will dive into all those numbers a little later.
Lynn Family Stadium As Intended
COVID really ruined the debut of one of the best stadiums in the league. Safety obviously needed to come first, and it wasn’t until the 2021 season could the team have a home match with attendance restrictions lifted. The Memphis 901 match on 06/12/2021 was the first opportunity for fans to fill the stands without restriction.
It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows in the bluegrass state. We had our share of bumps in the road that cannot be overlooked.
So Long Hackworth
After the first regular-season match, John Hackworth suddenly left the club. While the reasons were never officially released, local reporting was able to uncover that a rift developed when the organization opted to install oversight over his position when it was learned that some unusual contract clauses were put in place without the club's knowledge. It wasn’t exactly the best look (but thankfully Indy’s drama was worse). This left the team without permanent leadership for most of the season until interim manager Danny Cruz was awarded the full-time job.
LIPAFC Crown Relinquished
While Indy had a very suboptimal season, they somehow tested the purple juggernaut. Earning a win and a draw in Lynn Family Stadium, Indy put LouCity’s backs against the wall for the remaining two matches in the race for the 2021 LIPAFC bragging rights. City managed a draw in Indy but fell short in the fourth and final encounter. Despite Louisville being the clearly better team, they could not prove that in those matchups.
Struggle On The Road And End Of Halves
Defensively, Louisville City was quite successful. The numbers were favorable, however, there was a glaring concern that developed; goal concessions late in halves. 28% of all conceded goals occurred between 81’ and 90’ while 15% occurred between 41’ and 50’. It was an ugly pattern that drove the fans and team nuts. It ultimately was the team’s downfall.
The team also had some snafus while away from home. While the large pitch of Lynn Family Stadium played to their advantage, they never adjusted well to the smaller confines of baseball stadiums like Tulsa and Memphis.
Terror In Tampa
Although Morados entered the ECF as the heavy underdogs, they found themselves up 2-0 relatively early on. Sometime after 80’, disaster struck. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it is a loss that we, unfortunately, will not soon forget. An awful blemish in an otherwise successful season.
If you missed or want to relive any portions of the season, I was at it all year long and have posts for every match. You can track down those recaps using the following links:
Now, let’s dive into the data and see how Louisville City stacked up against the rest of the competition over the entirety of the regular season. As usual, I have pulled data from American Soccer Analysis. For those who are unfamiliar with “expected goals” (xG) or “goals added” (G+), please be sure to check out the posts I have written explaining them! If you read How’s It Going? Part 4, you’ll notice a lot of similarities between the numbers, but there are some changes.
Starting with goals for (GF) and goals against (GA), Louisville ended with 1.88 GF/match (2nd in the league) and 1.13 GA/match (8th). Their xGF/match was 1.87 (2nd) and their xGA/match was 0.90 (1st). While the actual goals for was right in line with expected, there was a huge discrepancy between goals against and expected goals against. In fact, it was the 4th biggest gap at 0.228 (GA/G-xGA/G). While they were good, they could have been great.
City ended with an average of 1.91 points per match, only falling behind Tampa Bay, Phoenix, and El Paso. A slight drop from the 1.96 they were at for How’s It Going? Part 4 but very respectable nonetheless. They remained top of the charts for expected points at 2.05 but that came down from the last check-in.
The previously mentioned G+ is a newer statistic, but is another great way to measure a team’s performances outside of just the actual goals (or expected goals) themselves. Much like the other pieces of data that we have reviewed, it paints a positive picture. Louisville ended with the 2nd highest G+ For per match with 1.461 and the highest G+ Against per match at 0.566. Not too shabby at all.
Below is the full breakdown of the stats for all teams. A quick look at the conditional color-coding shows what we already know; LouCity was damn good this season.
All in all, it was a great season. The team faced adversity but still managed another deep playoff run and statistically dominated the league. We got to properly fill our new home and witness quite a few memorable moments. With the season over, the offseason is now in full swing and Coach Cruz will have an opportunity to build a squad to fit his desired style of play. Be sure to keep checking in on the site for the latest and greatest as we hear about ongoing developments with the roster!
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