Louisville City managed to squeeze out a win against rivals Indy Eleven and hit the following match against Hartford Athletic. Hartford has yet to beat or draw Louisville since their inaugural season in 2019, including the most recent meeting which ended the regular season (a 2-1 win). Tab Ramos’ team has struggled this season and currently resides at the bottom of the table. FiveThirtyEight had them with a 34% chance to make the postseason, down from 57% to start the year. The most notable thing about the Athletic is that it is the new home of former LouCity attacker, Antoine Hoppenot. The fiery Frenchman was looking to get one over his former club and help his team begin their climb up the table. On the flip side, LouCity finds themselves in a good table position, but missed opportunities and a lackluster attack have left some fans a bit worried. Can they secure another win on the back of a big rivalry victory or will Hartford play spoiler to City’s hopes?
Oscar Jimenez and Dylan Mares enter the fray. Manny Perez was out due to a minor groin strain and Ray Serrano was replaced by Mares, allowing Jorge Gonzalez to play in a more advanced role.
By The Numbers
Defensively, not too bad of a night. LouCity held the home to five total shots with an expected goal (xG) value of less than 0.5. Louisville dominated possession 61% to 39%. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t able to make much happen. They did get 11 shots off, but zero were on target. Despite this, they still managed to get an xG over one. This was a very bad outing considering the opponent is 23rd of 23 for goals conceded per match (2.0).
Player Of The Match
Louisville City endured a few scary moments and Oliver Semmle was there to show why he is the first-choice keeper. Those big moments were the difference between a draw and a loss. “I thought he was excellent tonight,” Coach Danny Cruz said of Semmle. “His management of the game was good. He had one or two good saves, and it doesn’t surprise us at all. He has a lot of quality. It’s a big reason we brought him here. We didn’t feel he was someone who wasn’t going to be ready or anything like that. We were happy with his performance tonight, and we’ve been happy with his performances so far this year.” He may not have much influence on the offensive woes, but he has done his job as well as anyone could ask for.
Hartford knew the quality of Louisville and planned accordingly. “They haven’t done what they did tonight one time this year,” said coach Danny Cruz. “They dropped off completely and played in a 5-4-1…So they put a lot of numbers behind the ball, made it difficult for us to break down, and played for transition. Their game plan was clear, and (they) obviously came away with a point.” While it can be a challenge to play against a park-the-bus strategy, it was still another performance where fans were left scratching their heads regarding LouCity’s offensive struggles. “We’re disappointed, obviously,” Semmle said after the match. “We want to win these games. We want to get points. We have a high standard, and I think we can do better in the final third. But as I said, I think once we score, it starts clicking, we get the momentum and we start winning games.”
Morados’ attack has yet to find its groove this season. For a team that retained most of its talent from the previous season, it’s hard to understand how they could go from 1.88 goals per match in 2022 to just 1.00. Perhaps they are a touch “unlucky” (goals for per game minus expected goals for per game) but they are not even hitting the league average number of shots per game. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. While quality is certainly desired over quantity, perhaps a shoot-on-sight strategy is warranted if other tactics are not working. I won’t pretend to have the solution, but it’s become clear that there is something that needs to be figured out with the front line. LouCity’s table standing may be good, but we want it to be great. We want a push for the regular season title. Right now, that feels like a steep ask. I have faith in the staff and squad and hope they find that winning formula soon.
Thankfully, the boys in purple get to return home to Lynn Family Stadium for their next match. It’s another with Memphis 901. Those matches have always been testy. Cooler heads will need to prevail to help avoid ruining Saturday night at the Fam. FiveThirtyEight favors Louisville 54% to 21%. Make sure you are there to help cheer the boys to victory!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following: