Match Recap – Atlanta United 2 vs Louisville City – 05/04/2022
Louisville City has had a terrific start to the 2022 season. After a dominant performance against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, they boast an impressive 6-3-0 record in regular season play and a +12 goal differential. City’s next test was their final trip south to face a struggling Atlanta United 2. Entering the match, the odds seemed heavily in Louisville’s favor. Could they maintain their historic start or would Atlanta play spoiler to LouCity’s fun?
Several changes in this match’s lineup. Amadou Dia has been given a rest and was omitted from the eighteen. It was Wes Charpie who was selected to backfill his right-back role. Wes’ change to the right worked out wonderfully to reintegrate Josh Wynder after having returned from the US U-19 team. Niall McCabe earned his first regular-season start in place of Corben Bone, who was “carrying a little bit of a knock” as revealed by Coach Danny Cruz after the match. This lineup also saw the reappearance of Oscar Jimenez, who has yet to see on-field action in 2022 due to recovering from a procedure. The resulting shape was a 4-2-3-1, an uncommon look for LouCity. However, its playstyle looked very similar to the more common 4-3-3 that has been a team staple.
Only 4’ into the match, Wilson Harris made a great run and shot on goal that was deflected by a defender and just narrowly bounced over the crossbar. It only took one more minute for LouCity to get another chance on goal. A cross from McCabe was redirected into the goal by a header from the captain, Paolo DelPiccolo, putting the visitors up 1-0 early. Although City was largely in control, Atlanta Jr was finding periodic chances. At 28’, they made an on-target header that Kyle Morton batted away. Five minutes later, Morados responded with a great passing sequence involving Matiti Mushagalusa, Harris, and ending with PDP who took a shot that was deflected. The first half concluded with Louisville up 1-0.
Jorge Gonzalez entered the match at the break, replacing Matiti. Much like the start of the first half, Harris quickly tested ATL’s defense. He beat the backline to a loose ball and took a quick shot that rolled wide of the net. A big missed opportunity. Minutes later, Atlanta United took a quick strike of their own, forcing Morton to tip the ball over the crossbar. Harris’ miss minutes prior wouldn’t linger on the team’s mind for much longer as Harris handed the ball off to McCabe at the top of ATL2’s box, pulling two defenders along with him and providing space to McCabe. The veteran Irishman made the most of the opportunity and hammered the ball into the net for Louisville’s second goal. Less than ten minutes later, at 60’, a leading pass from Brian Ownby set up Jorge for LouCity’s third of the night and his first of the season. PDP and McCabe called it a match at 63’ and came off for Napo Matsoso and Carlos Moguel. At 66’, Harris took a shot on the run from a well-placed Ownby, crossed but flubbed the opportunity and sent it wide. He came off ten minutes later for Corben Bone. Louisville city scored their fourth and final goal of the match with Napo putting it into the net off an Ownby cross. Following that final goal, Oscar made his season debut, relieving Wes Charpie. He saw out the last moments of the match ending 4-0 in LouCity’s favor.
By The Numbers
This match was dominated by Louisville from start to finish. Atlanta United 2’s 45% possession is made worse with the realization that 70% of their accurate passes occurred at their own end (226/323). They were largely trapped in their end weathering a storm and were broken down over time by LouCity and their brilliant passing (86% accurate pass completion). The boys in purple made 21 shots in the match with seven on target and six big chances (which is high for a single match). 16 of the 21 shots (and five of the seven on target shots) were in the 2nd half. Sometimes, xG does a good job showcasing how lopsided a match can be and this was an example of that (3.13 to 0.41).
Player Of The Match
Like many matches this season, there are a lot of directions you could go here. Wilson Harris was very dangerous up top, and Niall McCabe reminded fans why he has remained on LouCity’s roster since day one, but my POTM goes to Brian Ownby. Ownby is a constant threat and if he isn’t scoring, he is almost single-handedly creating opportunities for others. He created the most chances of the match (three) and won the most duels (eight). His name was mentioned repeatedly above for his service. Ownby was fantastic last season and somehow managed to get notably better.
Louisville City’s dominant win isn’t a surprise if you have been following this team. They have been on an absolute tear and showed no mercy to an inexperienced Atlanta United 2 squad. While City may have played down to weaker opponents in the past, that has not been the case this season. “I reminded them about the things that occurred here last year,” Coach Cruz said, with LouCity a 1-0 loser in its first trip to Atlanta in 2021. “I talked to the players about not taking one game for granted — not with the team we want to be and the goals we want to achieve.” Fans have the luxury of underestimating weak teams, but thankfully Coach Cruz and his staff have been treating all with equal dedication and determination. Morados’ defense has stellar. Even minus Amadou Dia, they did not miss a beat with Wes Charpie shifted out of his normal role. Corben Bone has been a critical piece in the midfield, but Niall’s performance could have him earning some of those minutes for himself. While Wilson Harris didn’t find a goal of his own in this match, he has been a dynamic playmaker with his movement and passing. Can’t forget about the headache Brian Ownby caused Atlanta. Take a moment to not only reflect on this match but Louisville City’s season to date. We have been good before, but it feels like this team has found a whole new level of play. Players are in form and the bench is deep. Should Coach Cruz be able to maintain this winning formula, the fun could continue for quite a while. Cherish every moment. This team is special.
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!