On Saturday, Louisville City was off to Indianapolis for the third LIPAFC installment of 2020. With a St Louis win over Sporting Kansas on Friday, City found themselves in third and required a win to take jump both St Louis and Indy Eleven for first in Group E. The number of opportunities to breakaway in the group is dwindling as the regular season approaches its end. Their form has been good (unbeaten in five) but it needs to continue to secure a postseason spot. Between the need for points and the rivalry matchup on the road, the pressure was on for Morados.
Coach Hackworth deployed the familiar 4-3-3 we have all come to know and love for the matchup in Lucas Oil Stadium. During the last winning encounter against the Eleven, Luke Spencer got the start up top, yet, the choice to play Cameron Lancaster instead felt like the safer choice. With a full week of rest, tired legs did not need to factor into the lineups for this match. On the Indy side of the ball, Tyler Pasher did get the start (as expected) but his partner in crime, Andrew Carleton, did not. Carleton sustained an injury on his arm but he did find his way onto the bench.
The match commenced and City made their intention clear early. They came out aggressive and were eager to apply pressure on the Indy defense. Indy Eleven fought back and at 16’, they had a couple of good looks at goal with a missed header and then a shot that flew above the goal. Much like the last LIPAFC, it was a very tactical match. City broke the deadlock at 23’ after the ball found its way to Sean Totsch off a corner who then passed the ball to an open Speedy Williams. Speedy put the ball past keeper Evan Newton. City did not let up after one as Corben Bone headed in the second goal of the night off of Napo Matsoso’s shot that hit the top crossbar. It was a dream start for Lou City but there was still a lot of game left to play. Indy was getting chances but the tight Louisville defense was able to neutralize those opportunities. At 40’, Louisville City went on the counter-attack after a beautiful pickpocket steal. Antoine Hoppenot found himself one on one with the keeper but his shot on goal was blocked. City would not be denied, though. Hoppenot sent a cross into the box toward Cam at 44’ who missed the ball. It made its way to Napo who stayed up from an Indy defenders challenge and scored the third goal on the night. After scoring, Napo celebrated by holding up a “Justice for Breonna Taylor” shirt. Indy Eleven found themselves behind at home and went into desperation mode to try and salvage something from the match. There was a heavy offensive presence for Indy in the four minutes of stoppage time in the first half. Ben Lundt came racing out of his box to address with a breakaway Pasher. Shortly after, Oscar Jimenez was beaten and Indy got a shot off close to the goal. It was not until 49’ was there a glimmer of hope for Indy. The home side took a corner kick and a handball resulted in a penalty kick. Pasher made the most of the opportunity and clawed one back for his team right before halftime. At the break, Indy led the possession battle at 55% while Lou City led on shots with ten total and five on target to Indy’s eight shots and four on target.
The Eleven came out in the second half looking to recover from the hole they were in. They dominated possession as they scrambled to find a goal. The Louisville City defense remained calm and composed and limited Indy’s opportunities. The first substitute action for the night occurred at 57’ with Cam coming off for Luke. Not long after at 62’, Carleton made his way onto the pitch for Indy. Right after the substitution, the home side had an opportunity to get back into the match. They missed a sitter right in front of the net coming off a corner kick. At 70’, they were almost gifted another scoring opportunity when the ball rolled passed two City defenders as a result of miscommunication. Lundt narrowly beat the attacker to the loose ball in the box. Lou City had a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach a few minutes later. Paolo DelPiccolo took a shot on goal, which was deflected by the keeper. The ball landed right at the feet of Hoppenot who shanked the rebound shot. That could have very easily been number four on the night. Right before the hydration break at 77’, former Louisville City player, Ilija Ilić, was subbed into the match for Indy. While City did not have much going on the attacking side of the ball, their defense held strong and the will of the home team was broken as their attacks lost intensity around the 85’ mark. With four minutes of stoppage time, we saw Wes Charpie and Akil Watts make appearances, yet, it was a mere formality as the game was already decided.
What a dream match this ended up being for Louisville City. With the battle for supremacy in Group E increasing in intensity, the boys in purple stepped up grabbing a huge win on the road. Indy, yet again, failed to beat the Louisville squad. May 5th, 2018 was the last time that Indy secured three points against City. Goalscorer, Napo Matsoso, bagged yet another man of the match securing a fantastic player rating of 8.1. Napo has been a revelation this season and a critical component of the squads improved form. Bone also had a notable performance with one goal to his name and a rating of 8.3. He passed with a 79% success rate and had the most tackles of the match with four. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the team’s outstanding defensive play. Aside from the handball, they yet again managed to neutralize the threat of Tyler Pasher (the number two scorer in the whole league). Sean Totsch and Pat McMahon have been incredible this year. Ben Lundt has been critical for the team’s success. If it were not for the PK, he would have had his fifth clean sheet of the year and would have been within one of most in the league.
Early on, it did not appear that anyone would be able to catch Indy for first in the group. Now, a red hot Louisville City has jumped the competition and has snagged first by a very narrow margin. For the first time this season, FiveThirtyEight is now giving City a greater probability of making the playoffs than Indy. While there are still several games to play, things are looking pretty good for Morados. On Saturday, they have another opportunity to keep the top spot with a home matchup against St Louis. Vamos Morados!