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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Match Recap – Las Vegas Lights vs Louisville City – 05/18/2024

Photo Credit: RJ Forbus

Following Louisville City’s statement win over one of the West’s best, Orange County, the squad was back on the road. Their performances away from the comfort of Lynn Family Stadium have not been as spectacular. What better opponent to start to change that narrative than the Las Vegas Lights? Their first and only meeting last season was a somewhat forgettable 1-0 win. The Lights reside near the bottom of the table, making this as good of a chance as any for LouCity to keep the momentum up after the victory over OC.



As fate would have it, this was not the match in which the boys in purple would get a sizable victory as the visitors. “We started with a really well-taken goal from (Davila), but I thought the rest of the half was completely unacceptable,” Coach Danny Cruz stated after the 2-2 draw on his team’s first-half performance. It only took seven minutes for Taylor Davila to find the match’s first goal. However, Jose Bautista’s Lights showed grit not normally seen by one of the league's least competitive teams. Early on, it was obvious what Vegas’ plan was; give Louisville a taste of their own medicine. Aggressive pressing, quick transitions, using the field’s (limited) width, and smart passing. Generally, LouCity has an accurate pass percentage in the low 80s. LV hit that mark (81%) but Morados only managed 70%. Sure, the home side did make nearly 73% of those in their own half, but it still is not often you see a Louisville opponent see that much success. The Lights were disruptive and LOU seemed to struggle to fully assert themselves.



Even with the passing situation not going to plan, Louisville still managed to create chances. Lots of them. They fired off 20 shots and accumulated an xG of 2.33. Conceding two isn’t exactly “weathering the storm” but for Las Vegas to keep LouCity below their 3.3 goal average is a worthy achievement for the club. The second half was more favorable for Coach Cruz’s squad, with 4 of the 5 on-target shots being made in the latter half of the match. “There’s definitely some positives to take from the second half — the execution of tactics, mentality and fight. But we needed to be a little more clinical in front of goal."



On the flip side, the Lights only needed 8 shots to get their 2 goals. It stings even more knowing their xG topped out at 0.83. “I know if you look at the stat sheet, it doesn’t look like we conceded much. But I wasn’t happy with the mentality defensively,” Coach Cruz shared. “I thought we didn’t get stuck in. There weren’t enough tackles, and we let them dictate the game with the ball.” This was the story of the match. The stats may look more LOU favorable, but this is a case where they can be somewhat misleading. Las Vegas controlled long stretches of the match. Louisville was not in the driver’s seat nearly as much as they have been accustomed to. Not a lot of the match was in the middle of the park. It was end-to-end action. Despite Davila’s defensive presence (who was overall a bright spot on both sides of the ball), the home team utilized quick play to avoid a dogfight in the middle. Competition in that part of the field is critical to Louisville’s plans. How many times have you seen LouCity get a turnover in the middle, leading to a quick pass to one of several pressing attackers to create a solid scoring opportunity? You’ll find that general sequence in abundance in most other matches, but not here.

  

To Louisville’s credit, the second half was a better showing. More positives across the board. It began with a trio of changes; Jansen Wilson and Amadou Dia coming in as outside backs and Ray Serrano replacing Elijah in the midfield. Serrano would go on to get his fifth in what is becoming a standout season for the youngster. The match got more physical, which looked to be a deliberate effort to dim the Lights gameplan. But at the end of the day, the historically bad Las Vegas Lights secured themselves an important draw. It’ll look like a win from their perspective, but it was unquestionably a losing feeling for our beloved LouCity.

 

Anything less than 3 points doesn’t feel great when you are vying for the top of the table. However, there is still a lot of soccer left to play and there will be opportunities to make up for the 2 points missed in this one. The squad faced an interesting challenge in this match. These are the kind of battles you want them to see early. Give the team a chance to learn from the various styles and adapt to them. It won’t be an enjoyable film review, but a lot of important lessons will be learned.


Parting Thoughts

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