Louisville City’s weekend win over Sacramento Republic got the team back on course and feeling good heading into yet another midweek match. Morados were back on the road to face FC Tulsa. LouCity needs all the points they can get as the postseason picture becomes more clear. They have a shot to not only win the East but the regular season crown as well. Their recent losses have hindered their efforts in those races and Tulsa, with a home field advantage, would be eager to play spoiler to the boys in purple.
With little time for the squad to rest between matches, the starting lineup for this one featured a number of rotations. Elijah Wynder earned his first start along with starts from Napo Matsoso, Oscar Jimenez, and Ian Soler. Regular starters such as Amadou Dia and Brian Ownby were made available off the bench.
It was a sub-optimal result for Louisville City. At 11’, a one-time pass found a sprinting attacking who found his way between the LouCity defensive line. He was able to get his shot past Kyle Morton putting Morados down 1-0 early. Looking for a quick equalizer, LouCity took a corner kick taken by Oscar Jimenez that was nearly headed in by Sean Totsch but it flew over the crossbar. At 23’, Corben Bone received the ball from Matiti Mushagalusa at the end line and crossed it over to Harris in front of the net. The Tulsa defense narrowly intercepted the cross and prevented Harris from having a point-blank shot on goal. Shortly after the 30’ mark, Elijah Wynder sent an endline cross to a charging Wilson Harris whose shot was astonishingly kept out of the net. Off the proceeding corner, Louisville found their goal. Matiti buried the loose ball into the net tying the match up 1-1. Tulsa created a few chances in the final minutes of the half but LouCity kept them at bay and held the 1-1 draw into halftime.
To start the second half, Napo Matsoso, Elijah Wydner Ian Soler came off and Brian Ownby, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Wes Charpie entered the fray. Ownby was looking to get on the scoresheet early with a header at 53’, however, that attempt was gobbled up by the goalie. By this point, LouCity gained more firm control over the match that had been relatively even up until the half. Oscar’s night came to an end at 66’ with Amadou Dia coming on to replace him. Tulsa was nearly handed a big shooting opportunity a few minutes later when they came into possession of the ball right in the middle of City’s box. Thanks to Charpie, the shot was stopped by a sliding challenge. A close call but a great effort by Wes to neutralize the threat. An interception by PDP at 73’ resulted in a counter-attack by LouCity with Bone dishing the ball to Matiti who blasted the ball past the keeper for his second of the night. With that goal, LouCity took the lead 2-1. A phenomenal team sequence. Matiti called it a night at 76’ with Ray Serrano coming on in his place. Tulsa nearly tied things up at 82’ but thanks to a heroic leaping save from Kyle Morton, the ball was kept out. Unfortunately, Tulsa found their equalizer on the ensuing corner. 2-2. Wilson Harris took a crack at goal off a counter in the dying minutes of the match but the keeper knocked it away. The points were split between the two sides.
By The Numbers
The numbers didn’t look like #1 in the East versus #8. Tulsa kept pace with LouCity on the attack, with both squads registering 14 total shots and five on target. Louisville created three big chances to Tulsa’s two. While the second half was a better showing for Louisville City, the stats didn’t exactly meet the “eye test” as both halves were relatively equal. In fact, Morados’ possession was a lowly 45% with their accurate passes only at 70%. That’s down from the first half with 58% and 80% respectively.
Player Of The Match
Matiti Mushagalusa’s efforts in this one helped the squad secure the draw. It’s important for teams to get goals from a variety of sources and on a night where Wilson Harris and Brian Ownby couldn’t find the back of the net, Matiti got the job done. An honorable mention to Corben Bone who, as usual, was quietly excellent.
Coach Danny Cruz was irritated at the conclusion of this match stating that the first 30 minutes were the “poorest of the season”. While there is a case for some other moments this season, it’s hard to look past how many opportunities Tulsa was able to create. While the lineup featured some guys who don’t normally start, he should be able to rely on them when their number is called (as was the case against Indy). The roster is deep for a reason. “We’re beat up at the moment – guys are feeling tired legs and I have to rotate the roster and make sure we don’t pick up injuries,” Coach Cruz said. “It’s been a difficult stretch, but it’s no excuse. We have the quality on the team to get these results.” Sometimes draws feel like wins, and other times they feel like losses. This one felt like a loss between the number of chances that Tulsa had and losing the lead late.
To complicate things, the squad is back on the road on Saturday for a match that has only increased in importance as points have been dropped. “This is certainly a difficult stretch of games – four on the road, five total in 15 days is not easy. We’re carrying a lot of knocks at the moment. We have to turn it around tomorrow, get our legs right, fly to Pittsburgh and respond this weekend.” The Rowdies now have an opportunity to close the gap and put pressure on Louisville for first in the East. Anything less against Pittsburgh could give them a shot to nudge ahead of LouCity late in the season. That first-round bye could be critical. Let’s hope the boys in purple can get the job done this weekend to help secure their standing.
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