The latter portions of Louisville City’s 2021 season have been filled with many away matches and frustrating results. The team had a strong start but do not appear to be playing to their full potential as the playoffs draw near. LouCity’s most recent match, a 1-1 draw at Memphis, was a continuation of this trend. With this, ATLvLOU (who we last played back in July), being the final away match before a game back in Lynn Family Stadium, the boys in purple were looking to secure three more points and a little confidence boost before coming home.
Louisville City Lineup
To no one’s surprise, the 4-3-3 were the marching orders. As for the personnel selection, it was a welcome sight to see the return of both Corben Bone and Pat McMahon to the starting eleven. Jimmy McLaughlin was also given another starting opportunity to display his talents along with Napo Matsoso. These changes found Paolo DelPiccolo and Antoine Hoppenot on the bench.
It was nearly a disaster of a start to the match for Louisville City. Within the first minute, a long Atlanta United pass got by Pat and to a charging attacker. One-on-one with the keeper, the ATL2 player, thankfully, sent his shot wide. City’s first opportunity came at 17’ when Brian Ownby sent in a well-placed cross right in front of goal that narrowly avoided connecting with the foot of Cameron Lancaster. Roughly five minutes later, Ownby was back on the attack showcasing his speed and ball skills to shake a defender and get a shot off towards goal that ultimately flew off-target. From this point on, it was largely ATL2 who controlled the match and appeared to be the stronger side. That control turned into an actual lead when a corner kick to the far post was awkwardly hit in at the far post. To Louisville’s credit, fought back in the remaining minutes of the half cumulating in a sequence that nearly tied the match. At 43’, a LouCity corner was headed towards goal that forced the keeper to make a leaping deflection that hit the crossbar and went airborne. Alexis Souahy challenged the keeper for the ball as if fell back into play, but the goalie was able to bat it away. The half would end with ATL Jr winning 1-0.
To begin the second half, Oscar Jimenez and PDP replaced Jimmy and Napo. Between the opportunity to regroup and the player changes, the squad looked like a whole new side and drastically changed the flow the match had been going. At 46’, Souahy almost managed to hit in a cross in front of the Atlanta United goal. It wouldn’t take much longer for City to find their goal. A corner kick from Niall McCabe a few minutes later was sent in right to Cam, who headed it in. An expertly executed set piece tied up the match!
At 56’, it was another close call for City as Pat secured the ball in front of the net. However, his back was to the goal. He was unable to get around for a shot but instead pushed it back out to Cam to take a shot, but the defense has closed in and the opportunity was lost. Roughly ten minutes later, Kyle Greig and Hoppenot entered the fray, replacing Cam and Ownby. These subs were followed by Bone coming out of the match for George Davis IV. GDIV immediately found himself in the action as he almost had a good shot on goal right after coming in. He took a strike at an airborne ball wide open but failed to get a solid hit on it. At 79’, a hectic offensive sequence for LouCity in the box resulted in a shot from Greig that tipped over the crossbar by the fingertips of the ATL keeper. A very close call for City and a great effort by Atlanta’s goalie to keep the scoreline level. While City controlled the second half, the wheels came off in the final minutes as ATL made a late push to claim all three points. At 89’, an Atlanta United 2 counter-attack found them in possession in City’s final third with little defensive presence. Chris Hubbard came off his line to make himself big. This prompted the ATL attacker to make a sloppy lob that went off target. A huge blown opportunity for Atlanta. Three minutes later, an ATL2 shot outside of the box required Hubbard to make a diving deflection to preserve the tie. In the dying seconds of the match, Hoppenot did get off a last-minute breakaway shot, but it was above the crossbar. Post-match, Coach Danny Cruz stated, "Obviously, I know he'll (Hoppenot) want that one back, but again, we missed too many chances tonight that I expect us to score. The players know that.”
By The Numbers
Statistically, this was an interesting match. Very much a tale of two halves. Atlanta United controlled the first half and Louisville City dominated (most of) the second half. The expected goal (xG) numbers really show that flow in terms of opportunity. City did better to create scoring chances but failed to translate that into actual points. LouCity ended leading in most categories except for the one that matters at the end of the day.
This one was a mixed bag that still has me personally going back and forth on my thoughts. On one hand, the team failed to beat a team they are clearly better than. Despite the chances, they could not find a second goal. On the other hand, the turnaround between the first and second half was tremendous and showed the team’s ability to adapt and adjust. It showed heart and fight (obviously excluding the final few minutes). "I feel like a broken record. I felt like we created enough chances. We weren't good enough in the final third — that's for sure — but we also conceded a lot of chances in transition” Coach Cruz commented, acknowledging the unfortunate trend we have seen as of late. "I'm frustrated with the result, but it's the end of a difficult five-game road trip. I spoke to the players about the importance obviously of returning home and getting three points in front of our fans. I'm always honest with them in the locker room. I don't hold anything back. I was proud of the mentality there in the second half. I was proud of the fight we put in. I just thought we needed to manage the game better, and we're certainly looking forward to getting back to Lynn." The players are not naïve to the missed opportunities despite the challenges. “It's not easy doing five away games in a row," said McCabe, "and under the circumstances, we played to remain unbeaten shows great resolve — great mentality. On the other hand, we should be coming away with more points...with the team, we have here and the expectations we have also." All involved with LouCity hold the team to a higher standard than the average team. Given their past performances this season, everyone knows that they are capable of more. All is not lost. There have been redeeming qualities to these frustrating nights. If City can pull it all together and begin producing complete performances, the sky is the limit. It is something that they are unfortunately running out of time on. On to the next one. Cya all back in LFS soon!
Heading up to Indy to watch LouCity beat up on the Eleven again? You can get your tickets to that away match on 10/16 here.
The LouCity team is forming a fundraising walk team for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Light The Night. I encourage you to channel your charitable side and contribute whatever you can.
If you’re looking to expand your purple wardrobe, Vamos Morados shirts are available!