Match Recap – Louisville City vs Atlanta United 2 – 04/24/2021
After getting a little taste of the 2021 team, fans were finally treated to the first match of Louisville City’s 2021 USL campaign. With the ongoing battle with COVID-19 trending in a positive direction, the stadium capacity was able to be increased to 50%, allowing for a Lynn Family Stadium record crowd of 7,000+. Between the increased support for the team, the extended preseason, and the arguably favorable matchup, it seemed to be a recipe for a LouCity win.
Louisville City Lineup
This match featured a return to the familiar 4-3-3 rather than the back three used in the friendly with the Riverhounds and a bit of variation in the eleven. No Wes Charpie, Tyler Gibson, or Brian Ownby. Tyler Gibson, starting on the bench, was unexpected as he seemed to be the heavy favorite to slide into the void Speedy left on the team. This could have been tactical, or the others could have genuinely beaten him out for the starting job. A bit too early to tell, however, it is something to watch. Ownby went down in the friendly and was subbed off. Between that and his omission from the eighteen could indicate he is still out because of that knock.
Morados did not wait to apply pressure. Right from the starting whistle, they looked to take control of the match and come out the gates, hot. Within the first three minutes, Corben Bone had already sent a shot goal-bound. This would be the first of many in the encounter. The first serious opportunity came at 15’ when City sent a free-kick into the mixer in the box. The ball was sent towards goal but was kept out by the keeper’s fingertips on a diving save. An immediate rebound shot was blocked and sent out. LouCity continued to apply pressure with no big chances for a while. ATL2 got their own opportunities in, though. At 29’, a counter-attack left a streaking attacker with only Jonathan Gomez and Chris Hubbard in the action. JoGo’s sliding defense didn’t get the ball but Hubbard deflected the shot on goal back out to Sean Totsch. City had a few more opportunities around the thirtieth minute. At 33’, a Paolo DelPiccolo free-kick was shot at goal but tipped out at 36’, Bone sent a rocket of a shot right at the keeper who deflected it away. And at 38’, JoGo’s cross into the box was barely intercepted by the goalkeeper. Had it not, Bone would have broken the 0-0 stalemate. The goalless deadlock held going into halftime.
Ready for action to resume, Coach Hackworth redeployed the same starting eleven at the start of the half but ten minutes in seeing the first change in personnel. Akil Watts and Niall McCabe (great to have him back, by the way) came off for Antoine Hoppenot and Jimmy McLaughlin, who was making his regular-season debut in purple. At 69’, the long-overdue moment happened. PDP found a corner kick from Oscar Jimenez and headed it past the keeper for the first goal of 2021. A light show and an enormous sigh of relief ensued. Immediately following the goal, Atlanta Jr made their first sub action and Louisville made their second switch taking off Napo Matsoso for the debuting Gibson. Moments later, Atlanta’s frustration boiled over in the form of a ball being thrown at JoGo. Without hesitation, Hoppenot, sporting a wild mullet, charged in a got in a bit of a scuffle with several ATL players. It’s unlikely anyone doubted the squad’s cohesiveness, but it's these kinds of moments that show how together the team is. You love to see the players stand up for one another. Cameron Lancaster, hungry for his own goal to start the year, fired a warning shot at the keeper from a distance at 76’. He, unfortunately, would not find a goal as he was substituted off roughly ten minutes later (following a few Atlanta 2 switches). George Davis IV, Cam’s replacement, made an almost instant impact. At 87’, GD4 received a pass from JoGo near the corner which he drove into the box's edge and then sent a cross in a running PDP who put it in the back of the net. A brace for the captain! That goal was the final nail in the coffin, solidifying LouCity’s win at 2-0.
By The Numbers
It was a largely dominating performance by the two-time USL champs. 60% possession (although it felt like more) with 14 shots on goal. With only five shots on target, it showed that the reoccurring issue of too many shots happening lacking quality has not dissipated. City’s expected goal rate (xG), courtesy of GameFlow, had the team at 1.79. The team passed well racking up 459 passes at a success rate of 81%. PDP’s two-goal performance earned him a 9.2 player rating and MotM honors (via FotMob). The rest of the squad performed well with Oscar getting a rating of 8.2 and Bone earning 8.0.
You can’t be too mad with Louisville City earning all three points. City controlled the game and, largely, looked good doing it. If one were to be critical, the time it took to score the first goal was a bit concerning. They were up against a MLS2 side who are generally less than successful in the USL. It’s not a hard rule but their team only had eleven players on their permeant roster. A lack of roster continuity can very much be an impactful factor. Post match, Coach Hackworth did compliment their organization. As mentioned above, the shots to shots on target ratio was less than ideal but if the goals do eventually come, you can’t get too picky. Going off the eye test, many players appeared to play well, especially JoGo. He not only looked like he belonged out there with all the players many years older than him, but he was also one of the better guys out there. His game is growing rapidly, and it’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season. It was great that Jimmy and Tyler Gibson made their debuts. Jimmy’s presence wasn’t a huge game changer, but Gibson appeared to be passing well. Super happy for GD4. With his career beginning to wind down, cherish each opportunity that we get to see him play. If you’re so inclined, you can check out my match thoughts immediately post-match below (I promise I’ll eventually get more comfortable in front of the camera!). Overall, it a great start to the season!