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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Match Recap – El Paso Locomotive vs Louisville City – 03/16/2024 

Photo Credit: Andres Acosta

03/16 is Stone Cold Steve Austin Day and this year it also happens to be the start of the 2024 campaign for Louisville City. Despite making it to the Eastern Conference Finals (again), the season as a whole did not sit right with the team or fansRedemption even became one of the storylines I noted heading into this season. Last season’s home opener was the first sign of trouble. And that match just so happened to feature the same opposition that LouCity was set to play to start 2024. What better way to cleanse the pallet than to get a little payback from the team that spoiled the first match in Lynn Family Stadium in 2023?  

 

Lineup

 

Match Highlights


 

57’ – Harris 

 

By The Numbers

 


https://mastodon.skrimmage.com/@GameFlow/112109023088058910

 

Full-Time Thoughts


Louisville City has a strong preseason, and that success seems to have translated into early success in the regular season. The boys in purple largely controlled this match. El Paso technically won the possession battle with 56% but given nearly two-thirds of their accurate passes occurred in their own half, that isn’t anything to sweat. That matches the eye test too. They were largely suffocated in their final third, only getting occasional offensive opportunities with the counter. LouCity came out with a clear game plan in their back three setup and forced El Paso to play the match their way. Of those few opportunities the Choo-choos had, the defense responded with quality play. Austin loanee, Damian Las made a fantastic jumping deflection to go along with a few easy stops. Marquee signing, Arturo Ordonez, Kyle Adams, and Sean Totsch all had their moments of defensive brilliance to quell an attack. I’m sure there are elements that Coach Danny Cruz will want to address in film review, there was much more to be pleased about than to be upset with. 

 

This match featured Louisville City debuts from Taylor Davila, Adrian Perez, Sam Gleadle, Tola Sowunmi, and Arturo Ordonez. Jake Morris made his league debut (aside from a partial-season loan). Jensen Wilson and Evan Davila both made their first appearances as professionals. It wasn’t completely flawless play, but the cohesion was strong enough that the uninformed would not have caught on that there were so many new players in the mix. For a team known for their roster stability, Louisville has largely done a commendable job of integrating new talent. 

 

The offensive end of play featured a particularly exciting fact; Wilson Harris’ goal in this match marked his 50th in league play making him the youngest to hit that goal tally in USL Championship history. “I couldn’t ask for a better start this year. I’m really excited about that but also excited about three points with this group of players right now,” Harris commented after the game. Harris came into this season with a different air about him. A hunger that has already translated into success on the pitch. The first of many, I hope. Harris did get his moment, but the attack did feature the team’s biggest area of opportunity. Despite the control and talent at their disposal, they were not as threatening as one would have liked. Possession and control mean nothing if you are unable to turn them into scoring chances. Morados fired off 11 shots (to ELP’s 13) with only three on target. Perhaps the home side’s defense deserves some credit, but this is likely to be the biggest concern for the staff coming from an otherwise successful start to the season. The recent Brian Ownby injury certainly doesn’t help this situation.

 

With all that said, El Paso did accumulate an expected goals value higher than LouCity. Louisville only generated 0.87 xG to ELP’s 1.43. While the low xG value for the boys in purple makes sense when paired with the eye test, the 1.43 for the home team felt high. Most of their chances did not appear to be particularly threatening. xG at the individual game level should only be taken with a grain of salt anyway but it will be interesting to see how these numbers pan out for LOU’s next several matches as we begin to get a clearer understanding of who this team is in 2024.

 

“The field here’s not great. The size of the field makes it that way, but I was extremely proud of the bite of the group,” Coach Danny Cruz commented after the match. “We talked a ton about making sure that when we go back and watch the game that you see a group that was relentless — and that when people are watching back home, they look at it and say that group is relentless. I certainly felt that way.” Coach Cruz regularly brings up mentality and this preseason, he emphasized a strong start. I think both fall under the positive column for this match.

 

I’d be remiss not to mention the captain situation. With the retirement of Paolo DelPiccolo and Ownby, who was set to bear that title, out for who knows how long, Coach Cruz had to go back to the drawing board on that one. It was Kyle Adams who earned the right to the captaincy in this first match. “Wearing the armband, to me, it’s obviously very special, especially at a club like this,” Adams said. “There were three captains before me and then Brian is the fourth. Whether I wear it or not, I’m going to go out and try to lead and do the best I can in that regard.” Regardless of who is physically wearing the armband, there is an abundance of reasonable options. No matter the lineup configuration, there will be multiple leaders on the pitch helping ensure the squad is upholding the LouCity standard.

 

The first match was a success, but it is a long season. A road win over a decent opponent is reassuring and something for the squad to continue to build from.


Parting Thoughts

 

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