Match Recap – El Paso Locomotive vs Louisville City – 07/30/2022
Following the home draw to Phoenix Rising, Louisville City hit the road for their first-ever match against the El Paso Locomotive. El Paso had been a competitive team in the West until a few recent losses set them back in their quest to challenge San Antonio for the top spot in their conference. Would a well-rested LouCity squad extend the Locomotive’s losing streak or would the home team get one over on the top team in the East?
The absences of Josh Wynder, Amadou Dia, and Corben Bone required Coach Danny Cruz to make some changes in this matchup. Wes Charpie moved back centrally and Manny Perez and Oscar Jimenez took up roles as outside backs. Jorge Gonzalez joined Tyler Gibson and Niall McCabe centrally while Brian Ownby, Ray Serrano, and Wilson Harris lead the lineup top. Carlos Moguel and Erik Leinhos made their way back onto the sub list along with Elijah Wynder, Josh’s older brother, back from his loan spell in USL L1.
Louisville City started the match as the aggressor, forcing a diving save within the first ten minutes. However, El Paso worked their way into the match with a few looks on goal. By 20’, LouCity answered with two half-chances. At 27’, the Locomotive sent a fantastic cross in front of goal that rolled harmlessly out and failed to result in a shot. A missed opportunity for the home team and a fortunate break for Morados. Both teams proceeded to find a few more looks, but the score remained 0-0 at halftime. Both the eye test and statistics had this one as an even match after the first 45.
In the five minutes of the second half, El Paso forced two saves from Kyle Morton. Louisville City responded at 52’. A low-hit corner by Niall McCabe was hit through traffic by Jorge Gonzalez to the far post and past the keeper for a goal. “We didn’t practice it this week, but right before the game (head coach) Danny (Cruz) talked about it,” Gonzalez said. “It was a great set piece play, and we executed it right how we wanted to.” Two minutes later, Brian Ownby used his speed to get a one-on-one shooting that was deflected away by the keeper. At 60’ Napo Matsoso entered the match for Ray Serrano. Less than ten minutes later, Erik Leinhos and Matiti Mushagalusa came in for Manny Perez and Niall McCabe. The final set of subs came in at 82’ when Wilson Harris and Jorge Gonzalez came off for Paolo DelPiccolo and Elijah Wydner. Ownby nearly snuck one into the far post at 89’, but it rolled slightly off target and out of bounds. Both squads had been finding possession in dangerous areas but few threatening shots to show for it. In added time, a deflected shot from El Paso hit off the ground and off a LouCity defender’s hand, but thankfully no PK was called. The boys in purple managed to hang on to their 1-0 scoreline and secure the win on the road.
By The Numbers
As mentioned in the preview, both squads were very possession-centric. El Paso won out in that battle but given that ~60% of their accurate passes were in their own half, it shows that not all of it was exactly productive. Both teams’ shooting numbers were quite even, but LouCity found more big chances. The xG battle was tight, but LouCity triumphed 1.12 to 0.81.
Player Of The Match
Kyle Morton was a major factor in Morados passing this test in the west. He racked up four saves on the Locomotives’ 12 total shots. Getting the best out of your keeper is imperative in these close contests and Morton has stepped up to the challenge every time. LouCity made a number of great signings this offseason but getting Kyle Morton might have been the best.
“It’s never easy to get three points when we play away, but those are the games we need to win to end up first in the league,” Jorge Gonzalez stated after the match. El Paso is a team that is quite capable of playing above their table standing and they put up a good fight against LouCity. Thankfully, the squad was prepared to execute and walk out with a win. This was especially important considering the absence of talent like Josh, Corben, Amadou, and Cam. “You’ve got a lot of injuries at the moment, and when you look at it, it seems like time and time again guys get their numbers called and step up,” Coach Cruz commented.
We have seen a number of dominant performances this season against inferior opponents. This was much more reflective of the types of matches the boys in purple will see in the playoffs. Getting a chance to perform with players missing and away from the comfort of home gave the team a good opportunity to see where they currently stand as they continue their march to the postseason. But, they can’t look too far ahead as another playoff caliber test awaits them on 08/13 when the Rowdies come to town. Although City has a game in hand, only one point separates the two sides. Should Coach Cruz manage to keep the squad focused, it could be a great opportunity for some revenge and to create some space on the table.
Be sure to check out my assessment of LouCity's performance the first half of the season (How's It Going Pt. 2) as well as my feature on Josh Wynder!
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