Match Recap – LIPAFC – Louisville City vs Indy Eleven – 05/29/2021
Updated: May 31
Who doesn’t love a good ol Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest!? Coming off an exciting win over Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal, Louisville City has shown that the recent coaching shakeup has had little disruption on their ability to do what they do best; win. Despite the new look to Indy Eleven’s roster, there were many reasons to be confident entering the first LIPAFC of 2021. History has been favorable to LouCity and with easing COVID-19 restrictions, the home team crowd was eager to help influence the match and add another tally to the win column.
Louisville City Lineup
With Oscar Jimenez still out injured, Jonathan Gomez training with the Mexican National Team, and Brian Ownby still out suspended, they required a few alterations to the starting eleven. Sticking with the 4-2-3-1, Akil Watts was deployed in the back line to help fill the void of the missing left-backs. Tyler Gibson earned another start and his first against his former side. Antoine Hoppenot also saw his return to the starting eleven. A logical choice given Ownby’s absence and his history as an Indy killer.
When two strong teams line up against one another, it can often lead to a slow start. Respecting the quality of each other, the beginning of the match saw careful play from both sides as they began feeling each other out and looking for vulnerabilities in their approach to the match. After about 20’ into the match, LouCity’s Niall McCabe made a wonderful long pass to Cameron Lancaster who escaped his coverage. The pass was just a touch too far in front of Cam for him to get a strike off before the charging keeper leaped on the ball. Indy’s first big opportunity did not occur until 31’ when a cross was sent into Louisville’s box but just narrowly too high to be headed on goal. A tad lower and it would have been a serious goal-scoring opportunity. By this point, it was becoming clear that City was the more successful side in exerting their will upon the match and dictating the pacing. The following 15 minutes saw shots fired in from Cam, Niall, and Corben Bone, as well as a narrow header miss by Cam. With minutes remaining in the first half, Louisville’s control over the match finally paid off. A cross from Niall, intended for Cam, went loose in the box after Cam collided with a defender. Bone took the onetime shot on the stray ball and sent it in the top right of the net for the match's first goal and the one that allowed LouCity to enter the half with the lead.
Early in the second half, the score nearly went up 2-0 as Paolo DelPiccolo slid into the box and barely missed burying a well-placed cross in the near post. After that close call, the match reverted to the careful back and forth with City still largely controlling the action. At 62’, Indy Eleven was on the counter-attack and found Jordan Hamilton charging downfield with only Sean Totsch impeding his shooting opportunity. In the box, Totsch went to the ground to try to dislodge the ball and prevent an angled shot on the goal, but he took Hamilton down and the referee called for a penalty kick. The former MLS striker confidently slotted the PK past Chris Hubbard to tie the match up 1-1. In response, Cam and Hoppenot’s nights were finished as Kyle Greig and Napo Matsoso came into the match to help provide an offensive spark. Greig got involved early and with ten minutes connected his head with the ball in the box but it did not have the power to send it into the net. Bone came out of the match at 71’ for USL veteran, George Davis IV. With only a minute or two remaining in the match, disaster struck again. A mis-communicated handoff of the ball between Tyler Gibson (who had a splendid match until this point) and Alexis Souahy, resulted in an Indy attacker taking advantage of the opportunity and stealing the ball. One on one with the keeper, Hubbard came off his line and made a play for the ball but made contact with the attacker, resulting in another penalty call. Like the first, Hamilton lined up and confidently put it into the back of the net to grab a very late lead and ultimately the 2-1 victory.
By The Numbers
Louisville City, statistically, had a very successful night. They maintained possession, were passing well, and creating chances. While chances were created and several shots were subsequently taken, many were not as high quality as one would like to see. A paltry five were on target. While these reoccurring issues continued to plague this otherwise talented team, the defensive setup was very solid. Indy Eleven was limited to only five total shots with two on target. Unfortunately, two costly mistakes lead to PKs. While the xG story does appear to run contrary to the rest of the numeric narrative of LouCity running the show, taking out the two PKs at 0.76 xG each and suddenly it fits more closely to the rest of the story.
Rivalry matches, such as the Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest, always make for an exceptional encounter and one that is circled on the calendar early in the season. Top that off with an expanded, record crowd of 10,700+, and you have a recipe for an incredible night. Sometimes these matches are special for the wrong reasons. Morados has dominated the series, however, occasionally the bad guys pull out a win. For LIPAFC encounters, it will be the team with the fewest mistakes who will win. Unfortunately, in this installment, it was Indy Eleven. LouCity had more possession, more shots, more chances created, better passing, but they did not win the statistic that matters; goals.
I’ll say this about the match until I’m purple in the face; goal tally aside, Louisville wins that match four out of five times with those numbers. It was two uncharacteristic mistakes by City that made the difference. Whether you agree with the first penalty kick call or not, you can’t allow the referee to make a decision. As for the second, Hubbard did what he had to do given the situation he was in. It was the misplay in the midfield that allowed for the breakaway and subsequent foul in the box. Post-match, Coach Cruz stated, "Obviously really frustrated to lose here at home. I think we were the better team, and the issues that they caused, we worked through all week. We talked about transition — talked about being responsible with the ball. Obviously two plays and it goes the other way and two penalty calls. You can’t keep gifting opponents goals like that and come away with zero points. Ultimately really frustrated at the moment."
Tyler Gibson was a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating night (with his involvement in the second PK lead-up put aside). He was a real difference-maker in the midfield. He made several crucial interceptions and his passing was spot on. Whether he had a leg up knowing how some of his former teammates play or was just on top of his game, his performance deserves recognition. His type of contribution is often overlooked. Pat McMahon also deserves credit for his defensive contributions and Hoppenot for what he brings to the attack.
It is premature to hit the panic button. It’s one (tough) loss while missing several important players in JoGo, Oscar, and Ownby. Looking back, Indy will be feeling very thankful that they managed to get out of Lynn Family Stadium with all three points. Two on-target shots and next to no possession rarely cuts it. This was the exception to the rule and they know they might not be so fortunate next time. While many fans are upset, we should all take solace in the fact that the season is still young. This team will find their stride and come out on top during the next big match. They know they can do better and will carry that chip on their shoulders into the next LIPAFC.