Match Recap –Louisville City vs Atlanta United 2 – 03/12/2022
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
It’s been a long and eventful offseason but Louisville City soccer is finally back! Coach Danny Cruz has brought in a number of new faces and has spent the preseason preparing his team to play his brand of soccer in 2022. With the loss to Tampa in the playoffs used as motivation, Morados were ready to take to the pitch and begin their quest to right the wrongs of last season. That journey begins with a home matchup against Atlanta United 2.
During the offseason, it became more and more clear we were going to see a bit of a change formation-wise based on the signings made. That was later confirmed as the preseason matches took place. Coach Cruz has been keen on a back three and all the pieces were falling in place for that to become part of the mix this season. Match number one saw the team deploy the 3-4-3, AKA “Dannyball”. I had speculated that the 4-3-3 of last season may be leveraged for this match. Injuries to Cam and Oscar may have forced some adjustments. Regardless, the personnel selection featured many familiar names as well as some of the highly-touted newcomers. What I had found the most interesting was the omission of Sean Totsch. The CB role(s) were always going to be a competitive battle with Wes Charpie’s 2021 season and the growth of Josh Wynder. However, most fans would have guessed Totsch to have been a lock for the starting eleven.
Before diving into the match itself, two shout-outs. Before the match, a tifo was unveiled in honor of Brad Estes, who had recently stepped down from the Soccer Holdings front office. Brad’s leadership has had an amazing impact on the club. Much deserved! Also, several Racing Louisville players braved the cold to meet with fans and sign autographs before the match. Something the fans were quite appreciative of!
Ok, now on to the match! The first big moment of the match was unfortunately for the visitors. The Atlanta attack had found its way past the LouCity backline, putting the attacker in a one-on-one matchup against Morados’ new keeper, Kyle Morton. Morton made a big-time stop diving to his left, with Tyler Gibson following up to kick the ball out of the box. That save earned him a bloody nose but kept the scoreline 0-0. Only a few minutes later, at the 25’ mark, Louisville found their first opportunity. A high cross from newcomer Manny Perez lofted towards the far post where the captain Paolo DelPiccolo headed the ball on goal. Thanks to the acrobatics of the ATL keeper, it was tipped just wide of the net. Brian Ownby, looking to break the deadlock, had a close call at 31’ when he collided with the keeper going for a 50-50 ball, but he was unable to win the challenge. Minutes later, Perez secured the ball along the Atlanta touchline and dished it back out to Corben Bone, who took the one-time shot from the dead center of the box. A diving fingertip save denied Bone the bragging rights of the first goal of the season. A LouCity corner kick at 38’ caused some chaos in the box and resulted in a defender making a save with his leg from a ball shot through traffic. A cross from Jorge Gonzalez at 43’ shot through the ATL box at 43’ but failed to find someone to put it on goal. City was getting close and creating chances, however, they were unable to find the net. They had to settle for a draw heading into the locker room for halftime.
Louisville City’s dominance continued in the second half, but they were unable to convert that domination into points. At 60’, Ownby and PDP were relieved by Ray Serrano and Matiti Mushagalusa. This change ultimately proved to be an important one for the outcome of the match. Ten minutes after the switch, Ray crossed the ball to Matiti at the box's edge who selflessly dropped it off to the advancing Wilson Harris. Harris sent the ball goal-bound. It bounced off the fingers of the GK and rolled into the corner for LouCity’s first goal of the 2022 season! Three newcomers all linked up to make the goal happen.
Despite the lead, Louisville kept on the gas. Totsch entered the fray for Charpie at 82’. A few minutes after, Matiti nearly found a goal of his own, but his shot went wide of the far post thanks to an outstretched foot from the keeper. In the dying minutes of the match, Napo Matsos made his 2022 debut, coming in for Jorge to see out the final moments.
By The Numbers
Aside from the possession numbers, which were shockingly even, this match was all Louisville City. The boys in purple created many more chances and were unlucky to have not found the back of the net multiple times. Louisville’s xG suggested they could have had nearly 3 goals. PDP’s header and Matiti’s late shot were two opportunities that could have easily gone in Louisville's favor against a GK less on his game. Credit where credit is due; Atlanta United 2’s goalie, Vicente Reyes, had an outstanding match. Certainly, a name to keep an eye on.
Player Of The Match
There were many outstanding performances during this first match. Harris got his debut goal. Morton showed why he earned the GK1 role. For me, Josh Wynder is deserving of POTM honors. As previously stated, the CB spots are tightly contested. The young academy product may have been a surprise choice to beat out Totsch, however, it only took ~15 minutes to show why Coach Cruz selected him. Age is just a number because he was outstanding on both sides of the ball. He has grown tremendously since his debut last season and has shown the fans why he is on European clubs’ radar.
What a night! Even with temperatures below 20 degrees, there was a good showing in the stands and those who came were treated to a nice three-point showing. Post-match, Bone admitted more goals should have been scored, but that blemish aside, there were a lot of positives to take away from the match. Perez was exciting, Matiti appears to be an offensive playmaker, and Amadou Dia is a solid outside back addition, among many other notable performances. Optimism was the theme of the post-match interview with Coach Cruz. “We have so much room for growth. Tonight was a win – an important win – but there’s a lot to improve on still. As everybody continues to get on the same page and we have all the cylinders firing, I walk away from this game very excited about what this season holds.” There is a lot to look forward to between a revised formation approach and all the new pieces to the squad. I hope you are as excited for this season as I am! Vamos Morados!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? Might I suggest The Tifos of Louisville City, Louisville City’s Pathway To The Pros, Louisville City's Preparations For The Future, What Are Expected Goals (xG)?, or What Are Goals Added (G+)?.
Have a friend just getting into LouCity soccer? Be sure to send them the Introduction To Louisville City link to give them a point of reference to learn about the club and league.
Be sure to check out the Vamos Morados Podcast featuring me, Benton, and Zach Allen-Kelly. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Audible, and Spotify. Everything you need to listen can be found on the Podcast page. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!