On the heels of a redemption win against Atlanta Jr, Louisville City FC took their first road trip to the “Centennial State”. Weidner Field played host to the Friday-night affair against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. These two sides have yet to play one another because of the historical divide between the east and west in USL play. Were the Switchbacks able to defend the west or did LouCity showcase the might of the east?
Louisville City Lineup
Deployed in the 4-2-3-1 that has been seen a couple times this year, Pat McMahon, Jonathan Gomez, Brian Ownby, and Kyle Greig all made their returns to the starting eleven. Greig was tasked with leading the line, as Cameron Lancaster did not make the trip after leaving the previous match with a head injury. Jimmy McLaughlin, coming off his first goal in purple, started for his second consecutive match. Jorge Gonzalez was featured on the bench after seeing minutes last match, the first he had gotten in a while due to recovering from injury. Although it was not a full-powered Louisville squad, it still boasted enough talent to make most teams tremble.
After much delay, the match kicked off at 10:55 PM EST. LouCity found themselves in the driver's seat for the early portion of the match. Roughly twenty minutes in, City had the first quality opportunity on goal off a counter. Ownby dished the ball over to Greig, whose shot was off target and over the crossbar. At 27’, Niall McCabe took a corner kick and sent it right to Ownby. It looked as if he initially attempted a header, but due to its low arrival, it fell to his feet. He fired off a quick shot, but the keeper kept it out. A quality opportunity that ended up being an awkward sequence. By this point in the match, the control drifted from Louisville to the Switchbacks. Known for their potent offense, they began to challenge LouCity’s defense. Their most threatening moment occurred right before the half. A shot was taken at the near post and went just wide of the net. A really dangerous opportunity for the home side to close out the first half of play.
Ten minutes into the second half, McMahon almost found a goal for his team with a header attempt that ended up going wide. It was after this sequence that Coach Danny Cruz decided to mix things up. Napo Matsoso, Jimmy, and Ownby all came off for Antoine Hoppenot, Jorge Gonzalez, and Paolo DelPiccolo (back in action in his home state). The back-and-forth struggle persisted until the stalemate was broken at 74’. A give-and-go sequence between JoGo and Jorge ended with a cross right in front of the goal to Hoppenot at the far post who easily slipped it by the goalie. He took advantage of the moment to give the home fans hell when celebrating his first goal of the season.
Over the next several minutes, Akil Watts was put in for McMahon and then Alexis Souahy in for Greig to help try to seal up the victory. Unfortunately, this was not to be. The Switchbacks found space between the LouCity lines to pass the ball out of their half at 87’. The attacker then took the additional space provided by his peer, who pulled away a defender to take the ball into the box where he fired off a shot. The near-post shot went off the outstretched arms of Chris Hubbard and into the net. A defensive misplay and a save attempt Hubbard most certainly would like to take back allowed Colorado Spring a last-minute goal to secure the draw.
By The Numbers
Uncharacteristically, City managed only a meager 42% possession. Despite this disparity, did get off more shots and created more chances than their western opponent. The passing count and percentage fell below the Switchbacks, however, the vast majority of the Switchbacks passes were in their own half (276 of 373). A positive sign that Louisville was largely able to stifle the opposition’s offensive progress. The expected goals (xG) reflected this with LouCity earning 1.74 to Colorado’s 0.55. JoGo had a solid match with one assist and a player rating of 8.1. McCabe did as well, earning a rating of 7.4 and a match-high four chances created.
Most of the draws this season have felt like losses in how they played out. Although the Switchbacks did well, and subjectively probably earned a draw, it was how it happened which made it sting. An equalizer only a few minutes away from 90 minutes? Ouch. “The way we came away with a point makes it a little more bitter,” Hoppenot said after the match. A tough pill to swallow, but these things happen. The several injuries, travel, and the long match delay help to make the outcome a bit more palatable. “The game kicked off at 11 our time and with altitude and it’s a tough stadium to play in and at the same time,” said Coach Cruz. “I thought the guys responded well. I think we were on the back foot there for a little bit and showed some pressure. Ultimately, happy that we get the goal and go up and obviously I’m frustrated we conceded a goal so late.” Thankfully, Louisville City has a little cushion on the table and can afford just one point from the match. As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight has given Louisville a 99% chance to make the playoffs and a 25% to make the final. You’d prefer to win those, but most would agree that we’d prefer the tough lessons like this to happen now rather than later.
Shout out to the Switchback fans who took care of our traveling fans!
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