Match Recap: LIPAFC #2 – Louisville City vs Indy Eleven – 08/26/2020
While this may have only been a regular season match, it very much had a playoff-like feel to it. Just over the half-way point of the season, Louisville City’s next few games would greatly determine their postseason fate. To help increase their playoff odds, City was in need of a win against Indy Eleven. The first Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest of 2020 ended in a 1 -1 draw. That even affair was just the start of Lou City’s resurgence this season after a slow start. The spotlight was on our boys in purple to perform.
Coach Hackworth deployed a familiar 4-3-3 with many of the faces fans have come to expect with one big exception. Cameron Lancaster did not make the starting eleven. Cam was on the bench in favor of Luke Spencer. What appeared at first to be a decision to preserve Cam for the St Louis contest on Saturday, ended up being more of a tactical decision (more on that later). Indy’s side featured their notable big guns such as Tyler Pasher, Andrew Carleton, and Evan Newton who recently celebrated his 50th career clean sheet in the league.
Early on in this match, you could tell it was going to be a tactical, back and forth affair. These are two of the premier squads in the Eastern conference fighting for every point in this short and unusual season. Napo Matsoso started the aggression at 9’ with a long shot outside the box that was just a bit off target. Alexis Souahy showcased his defensive prowess at 14’ with a great stop of a hard shot by Pasher. Napo retrieved the deflection and used his brilliant ball work to evade Pasher, who was not quite done with that play. Its moments like that where Napo’s great handling of the ball helps to fill the void left by Magnus. At 20’, it was Alexis again with another sliding shot block. An opportunity arose at 25’ where the ball was loose in the Indy box off a corner but Morados was unable to make anything of it. City’s play appeared, at this point, to be a bit slower pace than normal and more deliberate. This may potentially have been due to fact that this was a more even encounter than the previous few matches.
Coming out of the hydration break, there were not many standout performances with the exception of the Lou City back line, who had thus far tamed the high powered Indy attack. Pasher did get a clear shot off at 33’ but it went wide. The first yellow card of the night was earned by Indy’s #4 after a tackle on Sean Totsch. The tensions of the rivalry began to flare up at 43’ after a no-call foul in the Indy box. This game, unfortunately, saw the return of a number of questionable officiating decisions. After three minutes of stoppage time, both sides went to their locker rooms still stuck in a nil – nil draw.
As of halftime, the stat line was relatively even with City having an ever so slight edge. Louisville lead possession with 54% and had the greater pass success rate at 79% (to Indy’s 74%). Both teams had two shots a piece with one of City’s being on target. There were still no individual performances jumping off the page. The most notable contribution was the efforts of Totsch and Alexis to shut down the leagues #2 scorer. While this had to have been one of the team’s main objectives, there needed to be some offensive output to give the purple side the edge in the encounter.
The second half commenced and the tactical battle ensued. At 50’, Totsch had a nice defensive moment, bullying Pasher off the ball in a one-on-one clash in the Lou City box. Indy managed to get off a close shot at 56’ that soared just right of goal. With that stoppage of play, Luke was subbed off for Brian Ownby. Ownby did not fill Luke’s central role but rather took over Antione Hoppenot’s winger role putting Hop top and center. This switch was when I realized Hack’s approach. Luke, a physical striker, was used to wear down the Indy back line. By taking him out and putting in the speed of Ownby, the Louisville City offense could then exploit the worn down Indy “D”. It did not take long for a shift in control and offensive effectiveness to take place. At 62’, Napo dished out a nice pass to Hop in the Indy box. Hop then played the ball around a defender and passed to an open Paolo Del Piccolo who took the shot off the roll and put it in the net. A fantastic team goal. Hack’s plan paid off in a big way. The pressure continued with an angled shot by Hop that was push over the goal by the keeper at the 71’ mark. Indy’s frustrations began to show a bit at 75’ with #20 earning the second yellow of the night. In the subsequent hydration break, Indy made three substitutions in an effort to get something out of the last ~25 minutes of play. PDP was also subbed out for Wes Charpie, who was sent in to help secure the three points. At 80’, it was a bit of a scary moment when Pasher got on a small breakaway and took a shot that was shanked right. More substitute action occurred at 87’ with Cam and Jonathan Gomez entering the fray to replace Hop and Corben Bone. The match ended after an altercation between the two rivals in the City box when Indy felt that they may have earned themselves a penalty. Not long after, the final whistle blew and City had earned the victory over the Group E leader.
The match may not have been filled with tons of big, flashy moments like some of our previous wins, however, it was an intense, tactical engagement. There were a number of small moments that helped move the needle. Indy seemed unprepared for City’s approach to the match and were unable to adjust as needed. It was good to see Luke get a start. The lone goal scorer, PDP, won the fan-voted man of the match (player rating 7.4) but I would have given it to either Alexis (6.4 rating) or Totsch (7.1 rating) for their defensive contributions. Shutting down Pasher is no easy task. It could have only taken one momentary lapse for him to have scored. Hoppenot (7.4 rating) and Speedy Williams (7.3 rating) also ended up having a good match. City ended the affair with 55% possession, 80% successful passing, and nine shots with five on target. The normally dangerous Indy had seven shots on goal with only one on target. I will say that I was a little disappointed with the decision to deploy Cam late in the match. Since the game was essentially in the bag, I would have loved to have seen our newer signing, Jason Johnson, get some minutes and more of an opportunity to showcase what he can do. Cam is only here on loan and we need to see what else we have up top to plan for the long term. Hoping he will see more time on the pitch through the remainder of the regular season.
That big win has put Lou City up in second place in Group E with a game in hand on first place Indy. FiveThirtyEight’s playoff chances for City went from 58% all the way to 70% with that victory. A win on Saturday against third place Saint Louis could Morados into first. Hackworth’s August magic continues! Vamos Morados!