Match Recap – LA Galaxy 2 vs Louisville City – 05/13/2022
The first and likely only matchup between Louisville City and LA Galaxy 2 came on the heel of Louisville’s second penalty kick finish in the 2022 edition of the US Open Cup. Los Dos have had a decent start to the season and was looking to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them against a tired LouCity. And if you believe in the unluckiness of Friday the 13th, the boys in purple had that working against them as well. All factored considered, the late match in LA had all the making of an interesting match against unusual foes.
The midweek US Open Cup win over Detroit City was thrilling, but came at a cost. Heavy squad rotation was expected and delivered. In total, eight new players made their way into the 4-3-3. This included Parker Siegfried making his first start of 2022, Owen Damm who was recently recalled from loan, and Ian Soler, who was making only his third start of the regular season.
Buckle up because this was an eventful match… and it only took roughly 90 seconds for the first goal to be scored! Jorge Gonzalez was in possession in the box and cut inside around the defender and took a shot at goal. It was blocked by the keeper but bounced to an in-position Ray Serrano who made the most of the opportunity, tapping it into the net for Louisville’s first of the night. City was firmly in control for the first 15’, but LA grew into the match cumulating in their first goal. At 19’, a Galaxy cross made it by the defensive efforts of Josh Wynder and Jan-Erik Leinhos and was slotted into the net at the far post. Matiti Mushagalusa crossed to Serrano at 27’ who then immediately dished it over to Jorge. He took a hard one-time shot on goal, but the keeper did well to block it out of play. Roughly ten minutes later, a set piece in LA’s half was snuffed out and they turned it into a counterattacking opportunity. Parker, however, did well to come off his line and smothered the chance. City entered the break tied 1-1 with the home team.
At the start of the second half, Paolo DelPiccolo and Damm came off for Wilson Harris and Oscar Jimenez. City didn’t wait long to retake the lead. At 51’, Morados earned a freekick just outside of the box. Veteran Niall McCabe expertly slotted the ball past the wall and beyond the outstretched arms of the diving keeper and into the net. LA, looking for a quick response, went on a quick counter at 56’ and took a lobbed shot over Parker, that thankfully was off target. Unfortunately, their next counter-attack shot a few minutes later didn’t miss. The backline was beaten by two attackers and they were able to easily get it past the keeper with the numeric advantage. Tied back up at two-all, however, that scoreline would not hold. Soler earned LA a PK with a blatant handball in the box. LA converted and took the lead. Following that goal, Brian Ownby entered the fray for Serrano at 64’. He nearly earned an assist within two minutes off a brilliant cross to Matiti, who didn’t fire off his shot quick enough and allowed a defender to get into position to block his attempt. Soler came off for Wes Charpie following that chance. At 76’, the Louisville backline was again beat and LA’s shot made it past Parker for their 4th goal. City did claw one back two minutes later by a strike from Harris on an airborne cross, however, LouCity could not find a 4th of their own and the match ended 4-3. Louisville’s first loss of 2022.
By The Numbers
If you had shown me these numbers and ask who won, I would have confidently said Louisville City. City outshot Los Dos 21 to 6 (9 to 4 for on-target shots)! Louisville dominated possession with 59%. To make that number more drastic, 80% of LA’s accurate passes were in their own half. Their measly 41% possession wasn’t even quality possession. The area in which they did win was the only one that truly matters at the end of the day. Despite almost all numbers going in LouCity’s favor, they made the most of their counter-attacking opportunities and earned all three points.
Player Of The Match
Niall McCabe did all that he could to help the squad through this rough outing and earned my POTM honors. Not only did he score one of City’s three, but he created the most chances (four) and completed the most passes (84). The result wasn’t good, but his individual performance was.
Coach Danny Cruz said it best after the match, “I’m certainly extremely frustrated. We gave too much space in behind. Our shifting wasn’t good enough from the back. Our initial pressure wasn’t good enough from the front. You can’t concede the same goal over and over again and not learn from it in the middle of the game.” LA made the most of their opportunities and exploited LouCity’s biggest weakness. Louisville’s aggressive press has done well to suffocate opponents, but if they are given even a second to breathe, they can make our team pay on the counter. We saw this earlier in the week against Detroit. It is exactly how they earned their PK. The backline scrambled to get back off a counter and Detroit forced a mistake in the box. Unlike the match in Detroit, City did not adapt.
“It’s obviously frustrating conceding as many goals in one game as we have all season,” Coach Cruz said. “We played a backline together that hadn’t been able to train together at all with the injury situation and a quick turnaround. At the same time, it’s my responsibility to make sure that I do a better job in getting the players prepared for a game like this no matter who’s on the field.” Depth was one thing that LouCity has had in their favor this season, however, those pieces were not the difference-makers you need in a tough match like that one. Much like the Charleston match in April, it was an opportunity for a non-regular in the starting eleven to step up and be a hero. Much of the weight falls on the defense. To win spots over the likes of Manny Perez, Amadou Dia, or Josh Wynder, you have to have performances exceeding what they could do. At a minimum, you cannot give a PK as Soler had done. That could have been the difference between a draw and a loss. But, the weight of that result does not fall squarely on his shoulders and there were many other opportunities abound. The ball was in Louisville’s net three other times besides that PK. Niall has been with the team since its inception and knows the expectations. “I don’t care that we made seven changes. I don’t care about travel. I don’t care about any of that stuff. We have standards here, and tonight fell way short of that. I think everyone who played tonight needs to have a look at their performance and address it because that’s not Louisville City’s standard. That’s well below par.”
It’s a tough pill to swallow, losing to a MLS 2 team after such a great unbeaten run. However, to look at the situation glass-half-full; losses present learning opportunities. While the team wants to win every match (as they should), a rough outing such as this one can give the team specific areas to work on. If the downsides of LouCity’s press were not already known, it certainly is now. Even going beyond the tactics, it can add fuel to the fire. Coach Cruz had a message for his squad after the game: “I told them to listen to the other locker room that was celebrating. I was telling them to make sure they understand what it means to beat a team like us and listen to them celebrate. At the end of the day, we’re not going to have this feeling next week — to make sure we learn from it and grow from it.” The team will come back stronger after the performance in LA. Valuable lessons were learned.
With that draining stretch of matches now over, Louisville has a little time to recover and prepare. Familiar faces such as Brain Ownby and Wilson Harris should return to the eleven for the first meeting against Monterey Bay FC. However, Paolo Del Piccolo will be out of action as he will serve a suspension for yellow card accumulation. The Monterey match will be in Louisville and I’m expecting for some frustration to be taken out on the struggling first-year team. Catch you all at the match where LouCity gets back on track!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following:
Experimentation is ongoing with the Match Recaps. Please see my Editor's Note. Feedback welcome and encouraged!
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