Match Recap – Hartford Athletic vs Louisville City – 09/07/2021
Louisville City has entered the fall in an uncharacteristic slump. After a draw (at Energy) and two losses (vs Legion and Tulsa), the boys were starting to creep into desperation mode if they wanted to retain their hopes of winning the East and potentially the whole regular season. The last time Morados has a three-loss streak was in their inaugural season in 2015. Under pressure and on short rest, LouCity headed north to take on the Hartford Athletic in a rare match outside the confines of the Central Division. With the eyes of the ESPN2 audience watching, would they be able to snatch a win on the road and put the sub-par three-match streak behind them?
Louisville City Lineup
No changes to the normal 4-3-3, however, there were a few personal adjustments from the previous match. Cameron Lancaster returned to the fold along with Akil Watts, replacing Oscar Jimenez. After returning from a “personal leave”, Hubbard was back on the bench behind Parker Siegfried.
LouCity entered this match and made an early statement. At 7’, Brian Ownby drove the ball into the box under heavy pressure and crossed it over to Cam. Cam’s ensuing shot was snuck in between the keeper’s legs, putting the purple visitors up 1-0.
The Athletic, looking to level the scoreline, sent a quick cross into the box at 23’ toward the near post that found the foot of a sliding striker, but thankfully the shot hit the post. A very close call for Louisville. Two minutes later, Cam thumped a shot toward the top corner, but a great stop by the Hartford keeper prevented his brace. Not long after, a high Hartford cross required a jumping deflection from Parker to prevent a header attempt from the striker awaiting the ball. At 29’, LouCity were the one to break through again. Cam took a shot from a tough angle that forced the keeper to pounce on it near the post. However, he was unable to retain possession, and it was Jorge Gonzalez who blasted it across the line. 2-0 City.
This scoreline would not hold. Less than a minute later, on a quick counter, Hartford found their first goal of the night on a cross and tap in (questionably offsides). And just like that, Morados’s lead was cut back to one. Antoine Hoppenot, looking to get in on the fun, fired off an outstanding shot headed for the top corner that forced an acrobatic jumping deflection from the keeper. The first half, unfortunately, had more to provide as at 43’, Jonathan Gomez was beaten, allowing a cross to go into the box which made it by a jumping Sean Totsch and was headed in at the far post. After an exhilarating 45 minutes of play, halftime was called with things tied up a two apiece.
Entering the second half, Hubbard was sent in between the sticks to relieve Parker after he sustained a knock halfway through the first. The second half picked right back up from where the first left off and at 56’, LouCity found their third. Akil took a corner kick and sent it perfectly to Ownby, who was waiting at the back post and headed it in for number three on the night.
Looking for more, about a minute later, a LouCity shot came in dangerously close and was deflected off the post. That wouldn’t be the end of their aggression, as at 60’, Hoppenot hit an absolutely outstanding curling strike around the keeper and found its home in the top bin. Wow! 4-2 LouCity!
At 73’ Niall McCabe and Napo Matsoso entered the fray for Jorge and Tyler Gibson. Following the dual subs, Kyle Greig relieved Cam at 80’. With the match creeping to a close, Paolo DelPiccolo was taken off for the young CB, Josh Wydner. Those substitutions would be enough to hold the lead and secure the must-needed LouCity win.
By The Numbers
Louisville City flexed their offensive muscles on the porous Hartford D. With 14 created chances and 11/14 shots on target, there was much for Coach Danny Cruz to smile about. Despite an xG of 2.35, City bagged four goals, which likely speaks simultaneously to the boys having an “on” night as well as the home team’s defensive weakness. While possession was even, roughly 2/3rds of the Athletic’s passes were in their own half, indicating that their time with the ball wasn’t always of the highest quality. While the offense was a pro to this match, the con was the defense. Allowing two goals is less than ideal and it’s even less desirable when the opposition only managed three on-target shots. A total of 12 chances created by the home side is also something the team should want to limit going forward. Both the goals allowed came off crosses from the left-hand flank. While I consider myself a huge JoGo fan, it wasn’t his best outing. It happens. It’s quite possible that he is not back to 100% after his knock a few matches ago.
Are you not entertained!? LouCity stopped their slide in a big way. Away, with little rest, against an unfamiliar opponent, and on the big ESPN2 stage, they showed up. “You obviously want to right the wrongs of the past two games and bounce back as good as we can,” Cameron Lancaster stated post-match. “We just needed maximum effort today, to focus on our football, and thankfully it paid off.” Fans were treated to a number of great individual performances along with a special Hoppenot goal. “It felt really good,” Hoppenot said. “It’s been a while since I scored a goal, so it’s nice to get one that eases the pressure on our team a bit in a hard-fought game…There’s pressure every game to get a result. We hold ourselves to a standard that we expect to win a game, but especially after losing two a row and seeing Birmingham close the gap, it’s nice to get three points.” While it wasn’t a perfect performance, there was more to be happy about than upset over. “I thought the players’ mentality was excellent. I thought the fight was excellent. I was really proud of the second half specifically,” said Coach Cruz. “Ultimately, we’ve talked a lot the last few days about the importance of us being clinical in the final third but also making sure to let the players know there’s no panic from me — only belief.” The key now will be to ensure this success is not a brief break in the recent trend of unfortunate results. Winning the Central Division is still very much in City’s control, but Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh are making pushes for the title of best in the East. Should Louisville return to their mid-summer form, it seems likely they will secure those honors.
Before you go, take one last look at Hop’s goal. Spectacular!
On 09/18, LouCity will be heading north to take on Indy Eleven! Tickets to the designated visitor’s supporters section (208) can be obtained here. Let’s show the boys some support on the road! Please note there will not be any team-organized transportation due to the ‘rona.
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