The weekend friendly against Atlante FC was a stress-free pallet cleanser from the Pittsburgh loss, but now it was time to get back to the regular season grind. It was off to Detroit for the second meeting this season between the two sides. Louisville City secured a win in the first meeting in early April and given their lowly position of 10th on the table, there was a reason for cautious optimism despite the team’s struggles.
By The Numbers
Louisville City winning the xG battle 1.61 to 1.52 feels wrong. Detroit should have had three (probably more) goals while we maybe earned one. LouCity won other statistical measures as well such as possession (58%) and shots (15 to 10) but DET made the most of what they had while LouCity failed to punish the home team.
Player Of The Match
Selecting a POTM for this one would be very forced. It was one of those matches where no one stood out positively. No positive outliers to point to. A bad day in the office all around.
What a gut punch. Despite the somewhat respectable table standing LouCity has managed to maintain, morale has been low due to the impotent and boring attack. But to be handed a second straight loss (third if you count the friendly) to a 10th-place Detroit side who has been just as bad on offense feels terrible. In previous performances, we have at least had solid defending to lean on, but that certainly was not the case for this match. As stated above, no one had a good night.
“Detroit did exactly what we spoke about with the group first five, seven minutes: lump the ball in behind,” Coach Danny Cruz said. “We did a poor job dealing with it in the first few minutes there. Obviously their goal comes from it as well, and again, it’s a pattern we’ve talked about over and over again with the group. So I’m extremely frustrated with how we concede there.” For the vast majority of the match, it felt more likely that Detroit would score rather than Louisville. LOU had their moments, but they were very few and most of the time not fully taken advantage of. “There’s some decisions in front of goal that you’ll look back at them and wonder why we made the decision at that moment, and I think a lot of it comes down to a lack of confidence.” It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell that morale is down. “They’re hurting right now. They understand this isn’t the expectation here. I certainly understand that. Nobody’s walking around in that locker room smiling over the last few weeks, I can guarantee you that. Ultimately, it’s up to myself and the staff to make sure that we’re preparing the group as best as we can and then see the players execute on the field.
Towards the conclusion of the Pittsburgh loss, there was a palpable frustration that I’ve not felt at a LouCity game before. While frustrating, PIT is a good team and not always getting the desired outcomes against a team of that quality is understandable to an extent. But to lose to a team as poor as Detroit City? This was the “get right” game. This was supposed to be the match where fans were given a glimmer of hope this would turn around. Personally, this loss was a tipping point. I try to remain positive but as the match went on, a fracture began to emerge in my optimism. Fan frustration has peaked and the “glass is half full” types such as myself need to begin to accept that this version of Louisville City isn’t one of the top teams in the league. Including the mounting angst of below-expectations performances, this may be one of LouCity’s darkest times. Hyperbolic, I know, but I can’t think of a time when things felt so bad. There are few positives to point to. Coach Danny Cruz, who has forgotten more of the game than I will ever know and is much more familiar with his team than anyone else, is maintaining faith. “There’s plenty of games left to play,” Coach Cruz said. “I’m certainly confident in what we have here. I’m confident in the quality we have here. We need to put it together, and we need to make sure that we continue to do our best to build the players up.”
He isn’t wrong. There is still time to right the ship, but that feels increasingly unlikely. At a minimum, all it takes is making the playoffs (which isn’t the tallest ask given the size of the playoff field) and getting hot right at the end. Anything can happen, but the odds do not appear to be in our favor. There have been a variety of tactical adjustments and personnel selection, but the problem seems to be largely mental. The squad will need to snap out of it sooner than later, otherwise we are looking at the club’s most disappointing season to date and a big offseason roster overhaul. Players are not only playing for starting roles but their jobs. Guys who are on contract years or who have player options need to turn the tides, otherwise they may be looking for a new club next season. One would have to imagine that these conversations are already happening to some extent in the front office.
“We’re in it together. There’s no silos. There’s no separation. It’s a collective issue, and we need to make sure this weekend that we turn it around.” There are a lot of guys in that locker room who are well-versed in the game and have been part of winning teams. I hope that they can figure this out. This team did so well last season and the potential is there for them to be a comparable squad. I’ll be there to cheer them on and support them in overcoming this adversity. I look forward to brighter days ahead.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following: